Whole World Botanicals & our Social Mission
Whole World Botanicals was founded with a vision of helping ordinary people assume more responsibility for their health by extending their healthy eating to include dietary supplements which could literally transform their quality of life. We have carefully selected certified organic, sustainably wildcrafted, therapeutic botanical concentrates, extracts, teas and specialty products from the Peruvian rainforest and the Andes mountains–the reservoir of some of the greatest, most potent natural remedies on the planet.
We are a company of firsts—first to introduce Maca Root to the U.S. market—a natural hormone balancer-back in 1995. The first also to introduce Camu-Camu, Chanca Piedra, Desmodium, and other little known, highly effective Amazon rainforest botanicals. We source these products ourselves and teach you how to use them!
Whole World Botanicals was founded by three social entrepreneurs, an American anthropologist a Peruvian midwife, and a distinguished botanist specializing in species of the upper Amazon River Basin, one of the most diverse botanical areas in the world. Their goal was to do good for all of the Company’s stakeholders: The Peruvian Maca farmers, the rainforest botanicals’ collectors and growers, customers and employees.
Whole World Botanicals is a nearly unique herbal products company because we have made personal relationships with our herbal growers and collectors and carry out an active social mission with them. Over the years our projects have included the following:
- Since 1996 Whole World Botanicals has helped eliminate extreme poverty in the most disparaged Peruvian communities
- Distributing 1000 notebooks and 2000 pencils to the settlements along the Curaray River for children to use in school.
- Initiated a pilot Solar Energy Project with Maca-growing communities to demonstrate solar cookers and provide workshops on building a solar space to heat their homes
- Whole World Botanicals is currently partnering Water With Blessings to help Camu-Camu collectors secure clean water for their families.
Viana Muller PhD
Viana Muller, PhD, is co-founder and President of Whole World Botanicals. She wishes to provide highly beneficial natural health products to consumers while helping the producing communities.
“By founding Whole World Botanicals™ in 1995, I discovered a way to join forces with native people to provide a market for their medicinal herbs and to make them partners in our company’s venture by returning to them a percentage of profit,” states Dr. Muller.
“The trail that led me to studying the maca root began in 1989 during an anthropological field research trip to the jungles of Peru,” the anthropologist explains. “Then I came across Cat’s Claw which at that time was almost totally unknown in the USA. From there I became involved in looking for other highly effective Peruvian medicinal herbs.
“In 1994, I came upon maca and spent the next two years researching its botany, history of use, and how it’s used today by native peoples and medical doctors practicing in Peru.
“The farmers who produce maca are sheep, llama and cattle herders living under very harsh conditions in communities high in the Andes that have existed for centuries. In order to survive they need to partially integrate economically and socially into Peruvian society, but they still live on communal land that is distributed to households by the communal council. Decisions about what to grow and how to use the land are made by the council. They still speak Quechua, their ancestral language, and maintain many traditions such as the worship of Pachamama, Mother Earth.”
Elena Rojas-Martinez CMP (Certified Midwife Practitioner)
Growing up in an ancient, prehistorically famous town called Nasca, in Peru, I had the good fortune of being born into a family who knew the local herbs from our coastal area of Peru very well. Also, my family was always in contact with people from the highlands who brought us herbs from the Andes and from the rainforest, for these two regions have been connected since prehistoric times. I was always attracted to all of this knowledge. It seemed so mysterious and powerful to me – the results of these medicinal plants were astonishing!
My grandmother on my father’s side was part Indian and part African, a tall, proud woman who was a bonesetter, who set people’s broken bones and who put dislocated bones back in place, using her hands, and then wrapped the traumatized area with crushed fresh herbs, tied in place with a piece of cloth.
She was also a healer of children by means of laying on of hands. One of my earliest memories was watching the mothers lined up outside of our house with their sick babies and children, waiting for Mama Elena’s miraculous touch.
My mother was an Indian woman from the Department of Ayacucho in the Peruvian Andes whose first language was Quechua, the original Peruvian language. From the time I was a small child, both my Mama Elena and my mother would take me with them when they went on their herbal expeditions. Near Nasca the best herbs were found near the small rivers and at the “ojos” (small holes) opening to the ancient underground water canals built by the people of the Nasca civilization, which flourished about 800 years before the Incas. In these areas there was a profusion of wild plants, many edible, including tiny wild tomatoes, tiny wild squash of many varieties, and small wild beans and a plant similar to the asparagus, in minature size. Also growing there were a variety of medicinal plants, herbs used to relieve stomach pain, to stop coughs, to calm the nerves, herbs for eye infections and anti-inflammatory herbs.
These early experiences influenced me to become a midwife and eventually led to my deep desire to found an herbal company which would spread the knowledge and make available these powerful and sacred Peruvian herbs to people all over the world.
Sidney McDaniel PhD
We have suffered a great loss, with the death on November 12th after a long illness, of Dr. Sidney McDaniel Ph.D., the third co- founder of Whole World Botanicals. Sidney was one of the premier botanical taxonomists in the world. He was a Professor of Botany at Mississippi State University and founder of the Institute for Botanical Exploration whose field station was established in Iquitos, Peru, in 1972. He was knowledgeable about all plant families, specializing in the Upper Amazon River Basin, that is to say, the Peruvian Amazon.
He collected and identified more plants for medicinal research than any other individual or institution in the United States. Most botanists learn one or two plant families and specialize in plant identification within those families. It was astounding how Sidney was able to identify the plant family of any species brought to him and frequently without the flower! He maintained a field station for more than two decades in the Iquitos area, first working as a botanist for the Amazon Drug Company and then collecting and identifying approximately 10,000 species for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a National Institute of Health (NIH) project, screening plants as potential cures for cancer. He also was the author of Guia de la Flora de Iquitos, a definitive guide to the plant families and genera of the Upper Amazon Basin in Peru, published in 1995.
Sidney was instrumental in our getting started in Whole World Botanicals, identifying plant samples for us, providing guidance on various botanical issues, and introducing us to the expert indigenous field botanist, Manuel Rimachi, whom he trained since Manuel was 16 years old. Sidney was extremely generous to us with his time and talent, as he was also with his graduate students, whom he taught at MSU.
We got to know Sidney in 1992 through a chain of people, starting with Elena’s cousin, an evangelical minister at a church in Iquitos, and ending with Nicole Maxwell, author of Witch Doctor’s Apprentice, who was a close friend of Sidney’s. He identified all of the species she collected on her groundbreaking expeditions of the 1950’s.
Our debt to Sidney is eternal. We would never have had the courage or the expertise to start the company without him. Thank you, Sidney, from the bottom of our hearts.