The Founders

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."

Viana Muller
Dr. Viana Muller, co-founder of Whole World Botanicals, with maca growers, taking a rest break during the maca root harvest.

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.

Elena Rojas-Martinez
Elena Rojas-Martinez, co-founder of Whole World Botanicals (left top), with Peruvian family

Sidney McDaniel PhD

Dr Sidney McDaniel, the third co-founder of Whole World Botanicals and Director of Research, is 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 is a pre-eminent botanist, a taxonomist knowledgeable about all plant families, who specializes in the Upper Amazon River Basin.

He has collected and identified more plants for medicinal research than any other single individual or institution in the United States, more than 10,000 for the United States Department of Agriculture, for research by the National Institutes of Health.

He has written the definitive guide to the plant families of the Upper Amazon Basin in the Iquitos area and is establishing the Green Ark Biodiversity Project.

He is 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 by the Institute for Botanical Exploration in 1995.