When Nestlé tries to patent TCM wisdom…

Nestlé is a Swiss multinational food and drinks processing conglomerate. In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed they had “discovered” what much of the world has known for millennia: That Nigella sativa extract (fennel seeds) could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy.” Nestle failed to patent a TCM wisdom…


Instead of creating an artificial substitute or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé was attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone for using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications — which are currently pending — around the world.

Update 2020: The patent was denied…

nestle failed to exclusively patent old TCM wisdom
I am perplexed about this last public outreach: My response is, let Nestle Corp. patent any idea they want… What difference does it make? Anyone interested still has the same access to fennel flowers when trying to find benefits, regardless. Grow it in your garden… It does not limit anyone from brewing a fresh fennel tea at home. I actually think these silly attempts to claim “title” to ancient knowledge are great exposure of public knowledge in today’s uninformed, pill-pushing culture. Look at this example: Although chicken soup has been demystified as a scientifically correct cold remedy, this data ignores the placebo effect of any caring mom, sister, or friend preparing it for you when you are sick – i.e., health benefits nobody doubts and science can’t really pin it down into data either way…

vanilla creamer by Nestlé

In 2006 Nestle, after getting in contact with EYS (Eu Yan Sang), a Hong Kong-based Chinese traditional pharmaceutical corporation – produced in collaboration with a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) – fused bouillon that did not successfully breach the market. Within this relationship, Nestle must have discovered that there is more to consuming food than “feeding”… Now, a few of Nestle’s modern scientists seemingly hashed out this idea they could patent 3000 years of herbal wisdom as if to dominate the market with a singular “ownership-certificate” of common natural wisdom. Next, they might attempt to patent that fresh ginger root corrects equilibrium and goji berries significantly slow the progress of cataracts. Let ‘em claim!

…and I admit, I love their Coffee-Mate Vanilla…

Any good TCM practitioner will merely smirk about this naïve attempt to secure greedy power. It is a misguided marketing scheme that one isolated entity is the “cure-all” for trusting consumers searching for alternative help. You should never trust a laboratory geek selling you packaged “wellbeing,” especially if they produce junk-food brands like Coffee-Mate Creamer and Lean Cuisine (run)!  Sugar and food color-loaded products like Cheerios, KitKat, and Nesquik chocolate milk cause tooth decay, child obesity/diabetes, and skin disorders… Nestle intends to create a natural anti-hive remedy based on ancient herbal knowledge, and they pushed to claim this herbal remedy as exclusively theirs. These modern scientists must believe that if they could isolate a plant product, patent it and add it to unhealthy food products, people would consume it longer or in higher quantities because they don’t get sick as quickly…? Well, it’s like trusting Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola with “healthy fruit juices.” Even so, they are loaded with corn syrup, preservatives, and a multitude of ingredients you should never poison yourself or your child with… Heck, all their “fresh” ingredients have shelf lives beyond nature’s date… Their products claim to be 100% fresh fruit juice! …“how much,” you should be asking – “how much is artificial and how much is actual fruit juice?” We just “read” the words that comfort us, not the text, intrinsically trusting.

nestle product

From the perspective of TCM, it takes a multitude of herbs and minerals to support a patient successfully. Not one singular remedy. As we all know, the same good herb that is intended to aid one person could harm another with the same symptoms. Modern pharmaceutical corporations like Nestle, blind-sided by generating revenue, are now laughably attaining a patent for an ancient claim that fennel flowers have skin healing properties… rather reflecting silliness in the face of simple herbalists: Yes, tea of fennel flowers reduces skin ailment in people – only if they have no internal inflammations. You cannot just isolate one powerful substance and give it to “all.” Most of the “natural medicines” you will find in today’s health-food stores are packed to lure consumers into finding “help” but are branded falsely or even promise “cure.”  Some go as far as to claim “healing power.”  These are all mass-produced “remedies” by factories producing little valuable substance for anyone. As if all humankind with the same symptoms – an ongoing catch 22 – could be cured with one singular ingredient, regardless of our height, our originality, condition, sex, or age… Nothing TCM supports nor recommends.

Contrary. Fennel flower tea contains thymoquinone that can aid women during their dysmenorrheal (painful menstruation), but at the same time, it can cause severe photodermatitis (skin rash) to another. While Nestle files patents requesting worldwide to create a skin remedy “cure for all” with an herb that’s been around for thousands of years – no modern practitioner would prescribe singular fennel flower tea as a successful skin remedy (Nestle claims it was to help children with food allergies…). Not in the last 3000 years of well-researched herbology was such simplicity effective enough to herbalists. Fennel flower (also known as Nigella sativa, black seed, and black cumin) would be prescribed within many herbs and minerals. Single applications are not the TCM norm.

Nestle should not claim they “own” this wisdom… Fennel is documented in over 3000 years of medicinal history. It is the knowledge that any well-rounded druid will pass on to you (to no cost). Like mom teaches her kids to brew a chicken soup for an ill sibling and encourages them to go and get him to drink it… She will give them the best advice yet: “Watch, he might be a bit grumpy, just ignore it and join him in eating the soup….” There, healing is initiated!

the TCM wisdom about fennel seed does not need a patent by nestle

Hint; fennel is health-boosting and can stop vomiting and reduces fever… If you want to learn more about it, visit the menu pages in and learn how to prepare a healthy shrimp and fennel salad – it is an aphrodisiac as well… That recipe was drafted by myself in 1998… Just in case Nestle gets any ideas!

TCMchef raphael


It takes hours to prepare a dish you consume in minutes…

Life of a chef: I miss the jungle, that gypsy blood in me – inherited, I’m convinced… My love for TCM food is to prepare bites that give others pleasure, even for a few minutes.

It is truly odd coming back to Los Angeles after spending time in pre-Olympic Europe and Singapore. Tossed around by rain in London, hail in Switzerland, and the brutal humidity of South East Asia – I’m still wandering in a cloud of jet-lagged daze. Impossible to adjust to my craving for spicy curry… Good quality of life, healthy food, living without texting, cultural discoveries. A well-adjusted sense for business lacks in the US. Although I love living in California (yes, the weather), I tend to compare and wish to surround myself with only the best from other lands.

I rebound with familiar faces from the rwp (red, white & pure) days in Singapore. Not much seems to have changed. As life moves forward, we merely become wiser about the past and cautious about the future. A sense of belonging when dealing with EYS (Eu Yan Sang) mixed with a peculiar hesitation. I love the general intelligence, the kindness of Asia cultures. I do clash a little with my “pushy” American attitude, trying to add quick efficiency. Seemingly, my free-spirited and enthusiastic ways of adapting to the possibilities do not align with a corporate structure of a slow directive approach. Here at home, we are more expedited in developing ideas into reality but lack a sincere and logical business structure.

The need on both ends to come together and bridge a complex TCM conundrum is still the same. I have developed into a gifted, versed chef with the unique ability to incorporate simple herbal formulas into tasty food. EYS has the ingredients, the testing facilities, and production factories lined up and need my talent to produce intelligent food concepts that can attract a worldwide multi-generational clientele. How do we come respectfully together? The opportunity to learn Traditional Medicine is my lure…

My dilemma is still the same: It’s hard to promote oneself as a good chef; Until you have sat on my table, tasted my food, shared my compassion… my job’s best resume is a short-lived three-dimensional experience. What seems a quick “toss-together” of seemingly lucky gestures and choices is actually a professional methodic selection of actions to blend wisdom – years of study and struggle – into a dish. IT IS METHODIC AND WELL THOUGHT OUT when I form flavor, balanced taste, and target sensations. The critique is brutally quick. One bite, judged by a few seconds of lesser joy, and my entire reputation is murky!

An irate chef would burst into a defensive mode of reactions, insulted by the simplicity of the judging entity that seemingly excluded years of study, ignoring the artistic layers incorporated in a dish judged… Judged by a lesser compassionate palate, unaware of the circumstances that now counter against the master: The soils composition, the mediocre bare ingredients, the lack of tools and time… The personal facts, the judge’s physical momentary circumstances…? This instant measures one few seconds of tasting a nibble and a whole life.

I have long learned not to give in to such negative notions. One must look at the entire experience: Secured by my research, supported by my wisdom, and motivated by my drive to please the most common of palates, I embrace a challenge and provide solutions. The simplicity of merely cooking a meal to please and earn an income bores me. Today’s life dictates that we find healthy solutions and combine the best minds to create intelligent food without synthetic toxins. My motivation is not the business aspect, although I respect that money is vital to sustaining trade and production.

Back to the drawing tables – in my case, the test kitchen… I gotta get this right! My sense is to work, show my kind intentions, and trust that others will protect my rights.

At this point, I find myself newly motivated by the possibilities presented. It feels incredible to be a part of a development that sincerely caters to bring intelligent foods to the masses. Changing a world where most “nutritional” food is a farce. I welcome the opportunity to design TCM food for EYS again. This requires my artist side to bow to the slow-moving process of regulations and bureaucracy…

Is there a decent curry house in Los Angeles?

TCM chef Raphael