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Shaahin Cheyene (also previously known as Sean Cheyene or Sean Shayan[1][2]) is an Iran-born American businessman, writer and filmmaker. He wrote and directed the award-winning 2008 documentary film Serpent and the Sun: Tales of an Aztec Apprentice. He is currently the founder and current CEO of the companies Accelerated Intelligence, a maker of nutritional supplements, and Victory Films, a documentary film production company.[3] He was the founder of the now-defunct company Global World Media, a maker of legal intoxicants,[1] Cheyene developed several alternative medicine products, including "Herbal Ecstacy," an ephedra-based alternative to the drug MDMA, commonly known as "ecstasy."

Shaahin Cheyene
Shaahin Cheyene
Born1975 (1975) (age 44)
Tehran, Iran
OccupationPresident and CEO
Known forFounded:
Global World Media
Accelerated Intelligence Inc.
Victory Films

Early lifeEdit

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1975, Cheyene’s family relocated to the United States in 1980 after the Islamic Revolution.[2] From a young age Cheyene wanted to be an entrepreneur. His interest in business was influenced by the writings of Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, as well as by articles in the numerous financial magazines that he regularly read.[2] At a young age Cheyene started several successful small businesses,[2] including a bicycle repair business.

Herbal businessEdit

Cheyene began to study and market herbal products while still a teenager.[4] In the early 1990s, Cheyene launched the company Global World Media, selling legal intoxicants called "Herbal Ecstacy" and later, the Herbal Ecstacy cigarette.[5] Herbal Ecstacy is a herbal alternative to the illegal drug MDMA, also known as “ecstasy.”[2] His company reached over $350 million in sales.[citation needed] Later, Cheyene founded Accelerated Intelligence Inc. to develop alternative medication that he claimed would improve brain function. His most successful product[citation needed] was a herbal cigarette also known as "Ecstacy Cigarette".[2]

Ban on sale of herbal stimulantsEdit

Critics including health officials in Nassau County, New York claimed that the products Cheyene marketed were harmful and should not be used for recreation.[1][6] Herbal Ecstacy was sold in the form of a tablet and its ingredients include ephedra (key ingredient), guarana seed, kola nut, green tea, black ginseng, nutmeg, ginkgo biloba and Centella asiatica. From 1991 until its ban from sale in 2004, Herbal ecstacy was sold in the United States as an over-the-counter drug in drug stores, music stores and other shops in the United States.[7]

In 1996, an article in the New York Times[1] reported that legal herbal stimulants such as herbal ecstacy and other similar products were targeted by federal authorities in a campaign to prohibit selling them in stores. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the primary ingredient of these products known as Ephedra has been the cause of as many as 15 deaths in the United States.[1] Dr. Varro Tyler, professor of pharmacognosy at Purdue University has stated that ephedra should be taken only under medical supervision.[1] Mark Blumenthal, founder of the American Botanical Council was quoted in the Times article as saying that ephedra is extracted in laboratories from the Chinese herb ma huang, and that companies "make millions and millions of profit" on the chemical.[1] Dr. Tyler also said that it "is a very simple chemical, easy to make - it shouldn't be a high-priced drug."[1]

Following the statements in the media by the FDA in 1996, Shayan's company claimed a 25 percent sales increase due to the controversy, and said "if the FDA ever goes out of business, we'd like to hire them for P.R., because that's probably the only thing they're good at.".[8][9] He accused federal authorities of trying to discredit his product through media publicity. He said, "If a product is unsafe, they can pull it off the shelf and shut us down, right here and now,but they haven’t done that, because the product isn’t unsafe."[1] The companies Twin Laboratories in Ronkonkoma, L.I.and Weider Nutrition Group in Salt Lake City, both of which use ephedra in their products, also expressed their concerns over the possible crackdown of herbal supplements.[1]

In 1997, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued a cease and desist order against Cheyene's company Global World Media Corporation ordering the company to cease marketing the product as safe and free of side effects, on the grounds that "Ecstacy contains a botanical source of ephedrine alkaloids, which can have dangerous effects on the nervous system and heart. Thus, according to the complaint, the claim that Ecstacy is safe and side effect free is both false and unsubstantiated."[10] Seven U.S. states subsequently filed separate lawsuits to stop the sale of the product, on the grounds that it was a drug being sold without approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[11]

In response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to ephedra, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements in 2004.[12] The ban was upheld in 2006 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.[13]

Studies on herbal ecstacyEdit

Dr. Charles Grob, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, conducted a government approved study on MDMA, and confirmed that herbal ecstacy had nothing in common with the real thing.[8] He said taking an herbal ecstacy was "like drinking seven or eight cups of strong coffee."[8]

Nicholas Saunders, author of the book E for Ecstasy, claimed that he was misquoted in the marketing materials of herbal ecstacy. According to him, the marketing materials did not include his entire statement, "People reported all kinds of effects. Some even saying it was the best ecstacy experience they had ever had, whether they had taken the herbal ecstasy or the vitamin pill." Saunders explained that his own conclusion regarding the product is that its effect is not greater than placebos.[14]


Cheyene has written several books including:

  • Shayan, Dr. Sean (2001). Divining ecstasy: the magical & mystical essence of Salvia Divinorum. ISBN 978-1-55950-221-4
  • Cheyene, Shaahin Sean (2003). Vapor: The Art and Science of Inhaling Pure Plant Essences. ISBN 978-0-9644958-8-3
  • Cheyene, Shaahin (2009). Darkness: The Power of Illumination. ISBN 978-0-9825651-0-0
  • Cheyene, Shaahin (2006). Salvia Divinorum: Shamanic Plant Medicine. ISBN 978-1-59971-404-2
  • Cheyene, Shaahin (2012). "The Brain That Changes Everything: The Ultimate Guide To Accelerating Your Brain". ISBN 978-1-4680-4009-8

On the cover of his book Divining ecstasy Cheyene is credited as "Dr. Sean Shayan", but the book gives no details about where any doctorate or medical qualifications were obtained.


Cheyene wrote and filmed Serpent and the Sun: Tales of an Aztec Apprentice,[15] a documentary about the life and roots of an Aztec medicine man and his apprentice in Mexico City. The film has been recognized and screened at:

He also wrote 2012: Change, Apocalypse and the End of the World.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Herbal Ecstacy "New Scrutiny for Sellers of Herbal Highs" Check |url= value (help). New York Times. 23 April 1996.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The Willy Wonka of Generation X". The Observer. 13 April 1997.
  3. ^ Brown Book Magazine 2011
  4. ^
  5. ^ "27 Mentors - Winter 2010 Seattle". Founder Institute.
  6. ^ Shaahin Cheyene. "The Herbal Ecstacy Story".
  7. ^ "Herbal Ecstasy".
  8. ^ a b c "Shaahin Herbal Ecstacy". Details. 1996.
  9. ^ "Lethal but Legal". People. May 20, 1996.
  10. ^ "Federal Trade Commission File No. 962–3210, Global World Media Corporation; Sean Shayan; Analysis to Aid Public Comment" (PDF). August 4, 1997.
  11. ^ "Lawsuits filed". The Victoria Advocate. October 16, 1997.
  12. ^ "FDA Final Rule Banning Dietary Supplements With Ephedrine Alkaloids Becomes Effective". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 7 February 2007.
  13. ^ "FDA Statement on Tenth Circuit's Ruling to Uphold FDA Decision Banning Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids". U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  14. ^ Nicholas Saunders (1995). "1995 Research Trip to the USA".
  15. ^ Serpent and the Sun on IMDb
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-25. Retrieved 2013-03-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "HDFEST Los Angeles". Archived from the original on December 24, 2010.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Archive - 2008 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival". Archived from the original on November 7, 2013.
  21. ^ "2009 Silver Palm Award Winners". The Mexico International Film Festival. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012.
  22. ^
  23. ^ 2012: Change, Apocalypse and the End of the World on IMDb