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From: Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio, Sunday, October 12, 2003

Web resource for natural remedies 
By Candace Goforth
Beacon Journal business writer

When psychiatrist Shila Mathew's patients began asking her about herbal and other natural remedies to treat their ailments, she turned to her husband, engineer Jacob Mathew. With his knowledge of the still-new Internet, she figured he could find a few appropriate Web sites she could recommend.

But all he found were sites trying to sell this herbal supplement or that natural regimen.

There was no comprehensive site where people could get practical information about traditional medicine and how it should be used in conjunction with modern medicine to treat the mind and body.

So they took their savings and created one.

In the seven years since, holisticonline.com has grown from 500 static (or permanent) Web pages to 50,000 pages of articles and a database on everything from hair loss to stroke, from ginger root to prayer. Featured articles include precautions, warnings and other information users might need in choosing their own path to wellness.

An international network of contributors gathers information about traditional medicine from all over the world. Much of what is featured on the Web site is a result of requests from users looking for specific information. And, in some cases, users share their own experiences with traditional medicine.

Users in Japan, for example, can discuss the treatments that might be common in that culture, but new to Westerners.

Mathew said holisticonline.com receives more than 4 million hits per month. With that sort of traffic, eventually the site could become self-sustaining, though never money-making, through endeavors like product branding.

Mathew said he will never charge users for the information.

Until the day the site can support itself, Mathew will continue to fund the project with his own money. He said he sees it as his gift to the world.

``We emptied our savings, and when you go into something like this, you put your heart into it'' he said. ``As they say, it was a labor of love.''

The Web site is a project of Mathew's Akron-based company, International Cyber Business Services Inc., which he founded eight years ago out of his Hudson home. The company develops interactive Web sites and acts as an e-commerce consultant for small businesses.

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