THE REMARKABLE EVOLUTION OF OUR COMPANY,
AND OUR THERAPY
Protein Ended My Banking Career
I have spent the last 25 years studying health care from a fairly unique perspective. My path in natural medicine evolved from an entrepreneurial adventure that began in the early 1990s. Quite by accident, I crossed paths with a couple of medical researchers who were doing some very interesting things with protein and needed a partner to help develop their business. Coming from a successful (albeit unfulfilling) banking background, I felt ill-prepared for a new career in natural medicine. However, this group had stumbled upon something very special: a unique process for fermenting protein that was rendering it more bioavailable than anything the medical community had ever seen. As protein malnourishment was (and still is) a pervasive problem in healthcare, this new technology carried the potential to help countless people--from starving children in the third world to well-fed Americans whose stress levels were prohibitive of proper protein assimilation. The technology was simple, yet genius--and the preliminary research was very promising. Promising enough to inspire me to leave my career in banking and become a partner in the company.
Falling in Love with Natural Medicine
A significant portion of my outreach effort involved attending alternative medicine conferences all over the country with the intention of encouraging various doctor groups to try the protein supplement for their Crohn’s, colitis, and irritable bowel patients. At that point in my life, I'd had no exposure to the field of natural medicine. To be honest, I thought I was going to meet a bunch of quacks, but from day one I fell in love with the entire industry. I realized I was, by and large, meeting sincere practitioners who were deeply committed to finding new ways to help their patients achieve the level of health they desired and deserved.
My path guided me to a deep, intuitive understanding of the guiding principles that govern all the natural medicine traditions and modalities. Those common threads include the concept that only the body is curative, that all disease is the result of the breakdown of normal function, that removing the obstacles to cure is the key to healing, and that most disease begins in the gut. I began to see the human body with a new level of awe and reverence; I also began to recognize how inherently flawed our current medical system is in the way it disempowers patients and promotes interventions that work against the body's natural, perfect healing mechanisms.
Meeting My Teachers
I read every book on natural medicine I could get my hands on, and I was blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the leading figures in the field: from Dr. Christiane Northrup and her amazing work chronicled in her best-seller, Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, to Jonathan Wright, MD and Alan Gaby, MD, who for years presented some of the very best of natural medicine research at their annual educational seminars. I developed a passion for natural healing and an intense desire to help usher in a new medical paradigm: one based in respect for the body's wisdom, one that empowers individuals to be the ultimate authority when it comes to their own health, and one that seeks to improve overall wellness and vitality, not simply mask symptoms.
ForeverWell Is Born
I was very fortunate to have crossed paths with some of the most brilliant, gifted, and heart-centered practitioners in the field of alternative medicine, and it was only a matter of time until ForeverWell was born. Our goal in starting the company was to create a nutriceutical supplement that could serve as the foundation of any healing protocol, and one that would aid physicians in bringing their patients' bodies back into balance. We approached this goal by referring back to the guiding principles of natural medicine: The root of all disease is the breakdown of normal function. The vast majority of that dysfunction begins in the gut. Thus, our aim was to design superior products that would provide unique support to digestive function as well as to the elimination organs. It was obvious: make sure the body gets what it needs (digestion, assimilation, and absorption), and make sure the body can eliminate what it doesn't need (detoxification and elimination). Do these two things, and as the body is supported in its natural healing efforts, symptoms of disease should start to disappear. The mantra of ForeverWell thus became, "Gut/liver, gut/liver....and...when in doubt, gut/liver."
Developing Our Formulas
Our development team got to work designing two formulas: one to promote optimal digestion, and one to support the elimination process. In alignment with the principle that only the body is curative, we reasoned that the best way to help the body's natural healing mechanisms is with whole food support: This way, the body can pick and choose the components it needs the most. The result of this effort, Foundation Formula, is the combination of three predigested whole food ingredients: deep sea fish, organic grasses, and sea vegetables, along with an outstanding blend of 14 naturally-occurring probiotics. The predigested fish protein that had inspired my career in natural medicine became the cornerstone of this synergistic compound.
Our team was fortunate to have been connected with a brilliant doctor in Australia who had developed a densely nutritious fermented grasses and sea vegetables product. His unique process involved a beautiful blend of naturally-occurring probiotics (as opposed to the lab-culture grown probiotics commonly found in health food stores). These probiotics carried a natural resiliency that made them so stable they could withstand changes in temperature and survive the high acidity of the stomach environment. These ingredients on their own would be helpful to anyone; used in concert, they carried the potential for remarkable improvement in digestive health. The pieces were coming together.
The goal in developing Renew Formula was to support the body's elimination processes: principally the detoxification pathways in the liver, and also its role in making glutathione (the body's primary antioxidant). Informed by the philosophy that a little bit of the right thing can make a massive difference, our team decided to combine strategically small amounts of critical vitamins, minerals, herbs, and micronutrients that would work in concert to facilitate healing in a gentle, yet powerful way. The power of Renew Formula is in synergy, not quantity. And because no single ingredient in Renew is included at the level of a "therapeutic dose", we reasoned that it should be well-tolerated by even the most sensitive individuals.
Success with Migraine Sufferers
Our network of alternative medical practitioners was the first to try the protocol with their patients suffering from digestive problems. The feedback was powerful and promising: The ForeverWell protocol was almost universally well-tolerated, and doctors were reporting dramatic improvement in their patients suffering from digestive disorders. What's more, individuals who also suffered from migraines were noticing relief of their symptoms! Migraine is a pervasive, stubborn, and often debilitating disease--and the existing migraine medications were often equally disabling--so the discovery that these formulas yielded notably positive results for migraine was exciting, to say the least. We knew in this moment that we had created something very special.
The profound effect of Foundation & Renew in migraine patients shouldn't have been so surprising. After all, anything that improves digestion and detoxification has the potential to trigger the body's repair mechanisms and thus cause improvement with just about any ailment. But why migraine, specifically? Enter the missing link: the gut brain.
The Gut Brain - The Missing Link
It was around this time that we came upon the groundbreaking research of Michael Gershon, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Columbia University. Gershon's research into the intricacies of the digestive system revealed that it actually houses a highly complex neurological center, i.e. a second brain, hidden within its mucosal lining. This second brain--also known as the gut brain, or enteric nervous system--directs the digestive process independently of direction from the head brain; it also runs on chemical messengers just like the head brain, and is largely responsible for manufacturing them on behalf of both brains. When we learned, for example, that 95% of the body's serotonin is made in the gut, suddenly the answer to "why migraine?" came into focus.
While the cause of migraine was (and still is) not officially known, there has always been no doubt that neurotransmitter (and hormone) balance plays a critical role in the manifestation of the disease. For example, the typical migraine abortive drugs (the triptan drugs) work by affecting serotonin levels in the brain, not unlike SSRI's (selective serotonin repute inhibitors), which target serotonin receptors in the brain in an effort to relieve depression symptoms. And there is a clearly-established correlation between hormone fluctuations and incidence of migraine attacks (many women experience migraines around the time of menstruation, for example).
A New Perspective on Migraine
My colleagues and I, immersed in the fascinating new field of neurogastroenterology (the study of the gut brain), came to a major epiphany: the medical community was looking at the wrong brain in its efforts to treat migraine. The effectiveness of the ForeverWell formulas, we believed, was due to the fact that instead of targeting pain symptoms or manipulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain, we were providing direct nutritional support to the [malnourished] brain in the gut--the one largely responsible for making these chemical messengers. The gut brain, once healthy, would naturally correct its production of neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and hormones--the body would balance itself--and the symptoms of the imbalance (the migraine) would cease. The ForeverWell protocol now had a name: Gut Brain Therapy™.
Enlivened by our new understanding of the gut brain, we conducted a formal medical study utilizing the scientifically-established Migraine Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MSQ), to test Gut Brain Therapy™ and its effectiveness in treating migraine. The results were quite remarkable: After only 90 days, eighty percent of participants experienced significant improvement in their migraine symptoms. What's more, sixty percent of participants reported total or near total relief of their symptoms, as measured by the MSQ. Our study was published in a peer-reviewed alternative medical journal.
IBS and Migraine: The Same Disease in Two Different "Brains"
Filled with confidence in our product, we released it to the general public. Gut Brain Therapy™ has helped migraine sufferers around the world find balance and relief. But there was one more revelation, and it brought the focus full-circle, back to the matter of digestion. What the ForeverWell team was hearing again and again from migraine sufferers was that many of them also suffered from IBS. Customers were reporting that they would first notice digestive changes--alleviation of their IBS symptoms--and later, they would experience relief of their migraine symptoms. This made perfect sense. Gut Brain Therapy's™ first job was to heal the gut. The gut, once functioning properly, would then correct the imbalance causing migraine symptoms. But what if these two diseases (migraine and IBS) were simply two sides of the same coin? What if IBS and Migraine were actually the same disease?
There is, indeed, quite a bit of evidence supporting this theory. For starters, both are so-called "chronic" conditions with no known root cause. Then there is the matter of co-morbidity: forty percent of migraine sufferers have also been diagnosed with IBS. Both diseases favor women nearly 3:1. Both are clearly influenced by neurotransmitter balance, particularly serotonin. Both are often treated with drugs that target serotonin receptors. Both tend to flare up during periods of heightened stress. A majority of migraine sufferers experience stomach upset during the attack, and often, a migraine first announces itself with a notable gastrointestinal shift: diarrhea, constipation, cravings, etc. Then, there is the incidence of headache-free migraine: "a condition characterized by migraine symptoms, such as visual impairment, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, but no headache." Headache-free migraine sure sounds a lot like IBS...
Supportive Evidence from the Research Community
Revisiting the work of Dr. Michael Gershon and others studying the structure and function of the gut brain, we substantiated our theory. The gut brain is a complex neurological entity. Both IBS and migraine are neurological diseases: One is manifesting primarily in the cranial brain; the other in the gut brain. But because the gut brain and cranial brain are in constant communication (mostly in the form of the information traveling from the gut brain to the head brain), any imbalance originating in the gut by definition will have an effect in the head. And the fact of the matter is this: Since both diseases have no official known cause, their designation as separate conditions is merely a matter of putting a label on a certain collection of symptoms:
Headache, aura, nausea, etc = migraine.
Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, etc = IBS.
But in many cases, these symptoms overlap. And the body doesn't know individual "diseases", it only knows imbalance. One imbalance can manifest any number of symptoms in various places in the body. When we learned that autopsies of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients revealed lesions reflective of the disease in both the head brain and the gut brain tissues, the link between these two systems became too profound to ignore. And the anecdotal evidence from years of treating migraine patients suggested more than simply a correlation: migraine and IBS do, indeed, seem to be the same disease in two different brains. We at ForeverWell now view those conditions as reflective of the same underlying imbalance and thus requiring the same intervention.
(You heard it here first. Migraine and IBS are the same disease in two different brains.)
Which brings us to the present day. What started as a groundbreaking technology for predigesting protein has evolved into a whole new way of looking at--and treating--the conditions known as migraine and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We have been inspired and humbled by the effectiveness of our unique formulas in helping sufferers of these diseases find relief of their symptoms--and, more importantly--address the imbalance causing those symptoms in the first place. We have all been affected in some way by Migraine or IBS, whether personally or peripherally. We know how disruptive these conditions can be to everyday life (anywhere from embarrassing to totally debilitating), and we understand how frustrating it is to see doctor after doctor and not find relief. We believe in what we've created with Gut Brain Therapy™--it is truly our life's work--and we are committed to helping as many people as possible reclaim the health and vitality that we all desire and deserve.
Thank you for reading our story.