My Story

A Personal Awakening

by Stephen Marsden Last updated October 2015

I want to share with you a miracle. My quest for knowledge and understanding of a way to improve my health and well-being almost ten years ago not only was the seed of Herbal Advantage Inc., but I believe is also the reason I'm alive today.

You see, by now I should probably be a statistic; another victim of self-neglect that is all too common these days, most often rationalized under the "sooner or later, something's going to kill you, so why worry?" philosophy.

As an international agricultural consultant, I prepare feasibility studies and supervise the consrtuction of large scale commercial greenhouse projects all over the world, demanding jobs that call for international travel, lots of exercise, strength and stamina. When out on projects I'd feel trim, strong and fit. But in between assignments was another story. My weight and cholesterol would go up, I'd be short of breath and the feeling of well-being I had would evaporate.

Eight years ago, after decades of dietary self-indulgence, I reached the bottom of my physical barrel with cholesterol readings as high as 320 and a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. I knew I had to find some way of improving my health. I was looking for something that I could have control over, something only limited by my knowledge and motivation for improvement.

While searching the Internet I came across some information on the Kombucha Mushroom. I paid $15 for my first Kombucha, and started drinking the tea and growing the mushroom. It made me feel better almost immediately. My breathing improved, joint pain that was starting to develop was eased. I became a believer in the power of Kombucha mushrooms, and started selling them. Although I didn't know it at the time, my newfound appreciation of what the mushroom did for me was the beginning of Herbal Advantage, Inc.

At that time there were very few people who knew about the mushroom, and wanting to share my knowledge, I wrote a little booklet, complete with the recipe for the tea I was drinking, and I started selling the Kombucha Mushroom.

With a background in horticulture and agriculture, I widened my investigation to include herbs. I had always appreciated the beauty and serenity of plants, and to discover the power of herbs, how they could improve your health when used properly was just mind-boggling to me. It was around this time I also learned about the sweet herb Stevia, and how you can use it to rid your life of the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, as well as sugar.

I had never been a user of artificial sweeteners, but did not feel entirely comfortable with sugar either, my family having a high incidence of diabetes. Like many people, I believed that most cases of diabetes are inherited -- that if you were predisposed, the disease would emerge sooner or later depending on your health and lifestyle.

I recently learned that during the 16th International Diabetes Congress, it was stated that only 10 percent of people with the disease are suffering from type-one diabetes "which is often genetic in origin," the rest, (about 122 million people worldwide) suffering from type-two. In fact, they described diabetes during the conference as "a truly global epidemic." Paul Zimmett, CEO of the International Diabetes Institute was quoted as saying, "people who were not at risk before (are) now developing diabetes." Scary news, and all the more reason to seek out traditional, time-tested ways to improve your health. Stevia has enabled me to cut down substantially on sugar.

I set out on an intensive course of self-education on herbs, with the help of my wife Josie, a dentist who has an extensive knowledge of herbal remedies, having practiced in the Philippines where pharmaceuticals are extremely hard to obtain.

Our catalog grew, filling with herbs for many uses as well as Stevia plants, and, of course, Stevia leaf and Stevia extract. Then in January of 1996, a feature article about Stevia titled "Sinfully Sweet" appeared in New Age Journal magazine. Written by investigative journalists Linda and Bill Bonvie, this article marked the first time the Food and Drug Administration's efforts to block Stevia, (as well as Stevia's history of safe use and widespread popularity in Japan) had been chronicled in a national magazine.

Herbal Advantage was mentioned in a source box on where to buy Stevia, and our phone started ringing off the hook. I didn't realize until that article appeared just how hungry the public was for a safe, noncaloric, natural sweetener. Before January of '96 we use to buy Stevia by the pound, now we buy it by the ton. That same month we incorporated, reflecting just how much we had grown in such a short time.

In September of '96 I went to Venezuela to build a greenhouse, working seven days a week at extremely high altitudes. I came back the week before Christmas feeling terrific. But, as in years past, I started gaining weight and sitting in front of the computer for hours taking phone orders and my well-being started going downhill again.

On June 19th I started experiencing mild chest pains and went to my doctor. I had planned a trip to Russia on a greenhouse project at the beginning of July and wanted to make sure everything was okay. My doctor was reassuring. The EKG was fine, I looked good, and if I had any more chest pains, she said, just take three aspirin, three times a day.

Several days later Josie saw something in my face that alarmed her. At 3 a.m. Sunday morning she convinced me to go to the emergency room of St. Johns Regional Health Center. They immediately stabilized me with blood thinners and other medications. Early Monday morning Dr. John Windsor performed an angiogram and did five angioplasts. He also installed two stents, springlike devices that hold the artery open. All this was just to stabilize me, my arteries being 98% blocked. The doctors were working hard to avert a first heart attack, which thanks to their skill (and some luck), was prevented. Cardiac surgeon Dr. Mark Avery bumped his entire Monday morning surgical schedule to get me in immediately. On Monday I underwent five-and-a half-hours of open-heart surgery in which they did six bypasses.

While four years of receiving the heath benefits of herbs and the Kombucha were not enough to undo a lifetime of self-indulgence and periods of inactivity. I am convinced that the Kombucha tea and the herbs I had been utilizing for the past few years were what enabled me to withstand the strain of the surgery and have such a quick and complete recovery. I am on no special medications, just working to lower my cholesterol and blood sugar, and get more regular exercise. I smoked my last cigarette on June 22, the day before my surgery.

When I needed medical care I was fortunate enough to be able to find skilled and caring doctors and staff; certainly if you break your leg it would be a better bet to seek out a doctor then an herbalist. But there is another world besides chemical pharmaceuticals and MDs, a world of health and healing that millions of people have made use of for thousands of years. With a little education, I believe that you can take care of the vast majority of you own ailments. Had I embraced herbs many years before, stopped smoking and made a concerted effort to moderate my diet, there is a good possibility I could have avoided my medical crisis.

Shortly after my discharge from the hospital one of our good customers, Tower Laboratories, phone to place an order for Stevia Extract that they use in their "Heart Technology" drink mix. I asked them to tell me about their drink; how it was formulated, and what did it do. They told me about Dr. Linus Pauling and how he came up with the theory that Heart Disease could be eliminated RIGHT NOW by everyone that followed his formula. They also told me about the video he made at the age of 92 that goes into great detail on his findings and how it led him to the formula and dosage that is the basis of the "Heart Technology" drink mix. Sounds too good to be true --- doesn't it?

A few days later, while visiting my doctor, John Windsor, I asked him if he had heard of Dr. Linus Pauling and of the Heart Technology formula. His response was that "in theory, Dr. Pauling's findings were true but because of the very high cost of the blood test for "Lp(a)" he could not recommend it to anyone.

GOOD NEWS - Herbal Advantage has made special arrangements with a nationally recognized laboratory to do this "Lp(a)" test for $132.00. In many cases this blood test will be paid for by your insurance company. I am now on this Heart Technology formula. Please see related story: Heart Technology

For me it was almost too late, but I want you to know that things can be turned around, even when you've made terrible mistakes in your life. I feel that I've been blessed, and would like to share some of my knowledge and understanding, as well as the herbs that made all the difference to me -- with you.

Stephen Marsden was assisted in writing this article by Linda and Bill Bonvie. Steve is the owner of Herbal Advantage, Inc , Rogersville, Missouri and may be reached at 800-753-9199 or at:

Update: October 2004 - Seven and one half years later I am completely drug free. I have taken no medication since my operation. I take 3 doses a day of Heart Technology (that's 9,000 mg Vitamin C). I very seldon get sick. I never get a flu shot and if I do get sick I'm usually better within 24 hours. When I do get sick I start right off with some chicken soup with lots of onions and cabbage. I take 2 capsules an hour of Ecninacea, Cayenne, Goldenseal, and Garlic and one capsule of Vitamin C an hour. A day later and I'm back to 100%. Steve Marsden

Update: November 2014 - I was 55 years old on June 23rd, 1997 when they performed an angiogram, did five angioplasty and installed two stents. Later that same day during five-and-a half-hours of open-heart surgery they did six bypasses. Five years later I was told I was diabetic and MUST start taking insulin. After that I changed my diet. Now over 17 years after surgery I am still drug free. That's right - no drugs. I take lots of herbs and supplements and a few years ago I started doing Chelation. But no prescription drugs of any kind and no insulin. The American diet is what is killing Americans. If you want to be healthy stop the GMO's, stop the artificial sweeteners, stop the corn sweeteners, stop grains like wheat and corn, and stop the junk food. Most of all stop the High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I am not a doctor. What I am doing may not be right for you but if you want to find out more about what I'm doing email me. My way is not the easy way but it works for me. Steve Marsden

Update: October 2015 - Just completed my annual physical examination and everything is looking well. My doctor who read me the riot act just a few years ago now seems pleased that I am doing so well without drugs. We talk about issues I have had and the herbs I use to correct them. This year I spent a little more time going over my diet with him. I explained to him how I raised my own grass fed beef, that I buy free range chickens, turkeys and eggs from local farmers and that I drink 1.5 gallons of raw milk from Jersey cows every week. I seldom eat sweets or grain of any kind.
Steve Marsden