August 21, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

A search for natural remedies to help his mother, prompted Tamir Goren to set up Mamaherb – an international online database of alternative cures.Anyone who’s ever been faced with the prospect of making a tough medical treatment decision will understand the dilemma faced by Tamir Goren. His elderly mother had cancer – which meant either surgery, or a long bout of chemotherapy. Either way, Tamir didn’t think the 74-year-old woman was up to the course of treatment suggested by her doctors.

So he looked around for alternative cancer treatments, and came up with the idea for Mamaherb along the way. Mamaherb is the world’s most comprehensive online database of alternative cures and treatments for just about every condition and disease imaginable. Based in Tel Aviv, the web site has tens of thousands of users from all over the world contributing – and using – thousands of alternative therapies from cultures the world over.

“Neither of us are ideologically opposed to traditional medicine,” says Elad Daniel, Mamaherb’s CEO, who comes from a family of vegetarians and sports enthusiasts. “This is more about choice. Medical doctors will lay out all the courses of medical therapy that they believe will help. But people were getting sick long before modern medicine came up with treatments.

Presenting choices

“We believe many of the traditional, natural treatments are just as worthy of consideration as complementary solutions to conventional medical treatments, and we want to present those choices to consumers seeking cures and treatments – so better decisions can be made, based on better knowledge of alternatives, with the final choice on what course of action to take up to them.”

Before Mamaherb went live less than a year ago, the most comprehensive natural treatment sites on the Web either dealt with a very narrow range of information – usually the one most familiar to the site’s publisher – or designed to push some specific product.

From acne to cancer “Tamir had a hard time getting to the people who knew what the possible alternatives were, because there was no organized community,” Daniel tells ISRAEL21c. After much in-depth research, Goren came up with a lot of contacts and information – information that became the seed for Mamaherb, which today boasts about 5,000 therapies for hundreds of conditions – on everything “from acne to cancer,” Daniel says.

Many people are wary of natural medicine, because you don’t have to have a license to practice it in most places. But Mamaherb has that covered, too. “We address the issue of a treatment’s effectiveness in three ways: First – by building a community, we open up lines of communications. When a therapy is posted, the entire community is encouraged to vote, rate and comment, so the treatments that have better chances of doing good are the ones that generate the most positive comment,” says Daniel.

Like a second or third opinion among medical doctors, the greater the efficacy of the treatment, the more users approve it.

“Second – users can link the information they upload to other sites or blogs that contain additional information, scientific studies, health organization approval, etc. Many of the therapies have been accredited in scientific studies, and Mamaherb gives those searching for alternative therapies a quick and easy way to get the full story on a therapy,” continues Daniel.

Lastly, the site’s most recent feature links to natural doctors and experts in each condition, so users can get expert advice, adds Daniel.

Many of the therapies are from China, India, and South America, areas where alternative medicine is taken much more seriously than in the US or Europe – but most of the users seeking information are from North America.

Daniel believes this is partly because the site is still only available in English, but also because the area of natural therapy has exploded in the past several years.

All the information at Mamaherb is free, and the core services will probably remain so as the site gets bigger, says Daniel.

A marketplace for natural remedies

“One of the things we are planning to do is offer a marketplace for natural remedy ingredients, which are also very hard for many people to find. Offering a place for users to find where to buy natural ingredients from, as well as seeking professional opinion from experts on top of its huge database of information will help Mamaherb cement itself as the major online alternative remedy information hub,” Daniel says.

And the Mamaherb crew of 10 employees practices what it preaches. “We serve a vegetarian lunch to our staff every day. Plus we encourage doing sports and living a healthy and natural life,” says Daniel.

Daniel and his team are committed to bringing natural therapies up to the next level – giving scientific credence to the many alternative therapies that are known to work. “As a Web 2.0 site, we use all the new web tricks, like RSS, online polls, etc. Our aim is to make the site simple enough for non-sophisticated users to benefit from, while giving more savvy users all the tools they need to properly evaluate a therapy and determine how beneficial it will be,” he explains.

Of course, there are the usual caveats. “Our attorneys make sure we tell all users to check out anything they read very carefully before actually doing something,” Daniel says. But the fact is, Mamaherb isn’t pushing, or selling, anything.

“We’ve found that honest talk about alternative therapies, enabling consumers to have a chance to find all the information they are seeking, enables them to make better, more rational, and ultimately more healthful decisions. That’s what we do at Mamaherb,” says Daniel.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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