Dr. Majeed’s Pick
WholeFoods recently asked Sabinsa’s founder Muhammed Majeed, Ph.D., which of his branded ingredients holds a special place in his heart. Here’s what he had to say:
For me, it’s Curcumin C3 Complex®. When I look at the humble beginnings of bringing out the powder, then standardizing it and helping it grow through world-renowned studies, it has matured into one of the greatest ingredients for our marketplace and for our time. If I had to do anything over again for Curcumin, I wouldn’t change a thing, simply because our ingredient delivers a multitude of health benefits with quality that is unsurpassed.
Through some of my philanthropic concerns, I have given millions of doses of Curcumin C3 Complex® out to the public. When I see and hear from parents of children with health conditions who are improving and recovering, it holds a very special place in my heart.
Natural Vitality of Austin, TX, was founded in 1982 by Peter Gillham, who created the popular Natural Calm magnesium supplement. Today, Farmer and Whitman have worked to bring the brand to the next level. At some companies, that concept would encompass mainly sales and profits, but at Natural Vitality, Farmer and Whitman wanted more. They wanted to help people lead healthy lives with “calm” at the core.
“Calm is the perfect word to represent this unstressed state and ‘calmful’ means being proactive about managing the stress levels in your life,” the pair explains.
The idea of “calmful” touches all aspects of one’s life, from eating to parenting to work life to relationships and beyond. “You could say that calmfulness is being mindful about personal stress management,” say Farmer and Whitman. “It’s being aware of your own ‘inner dashboard’ and soothing negative emotions before they gain momentum.”
They make the point that chronic stress puts the body in a heightened defense mode, which zaps energy and can cause physical harm and discomfort. “We have to learn to shift our focus from stressful things to things that make us happy. We need more ease and less dis-ease,” say Farmer and Whitman.
For these reasons, Farmer and Whitman use “calmfulness” as the guiding principle in all the company’s efforts.
The Natural Vitality leaders want their line to address the need for “calm” through several touch-points. The concept of proper stress–calm balance certainly relates to the company’s key products, many of which support wellness with balanced mineral levels in the body and proper vitamin intake. “In the body, you can see this in the cellular action of calcium, which brings the cell to action, and magnesium, which brings the cell back to its resting state. Balance is key in all of these,” they say.
The Natural Vitality line is known for its anti-stress multi-mineral drinks, liquid plant-based vitamins, liquid plant-sourced minerals, and more. But the firm recently launched some new products that also embrace the idea of changing lives through calmfulness. Two examples are Natural Calm Bath (magnesium spa bath salts) and Natural Calm Cream (transdermal magnesium cream), but several new launches are on the horizon. “We’re moving to the next level and are focused on innovation now! We are really excited about what we have coming to market soon and moving into 2017,” say Farmer and Whitman. Natural Vitality made news early in 2016 by being acquired by Wellnext, which the pair calls “the perfect partner for our needs. We met them and the relationship clicked.” Wellnext owns other natural products brands such as Rainbow Light.
This partnership has helped make even more innovation possible for Natural Vitality. “They share the same passion, commitment and idealism that we do. Additionally, they have extensive state-of-the-art manufacturing along with great research and development capabilities,” say Farmer and Whitman. These resources will help the Natural Vitality team on its mission to bring several novel products to market in the near future.
Natural Vitality is also calmfulness and wellness focused in ways that aren’t related to the bottom line. For instance, the firm launched Organic Connections, which Farmer and Whitman call “a labor of love.”
The publication started as a print magazine, moved to a digital publication and was recently renamed Calmful Living with the tagline “Life Less Stressed.” Coverage offers stress-free reading about daily living, products and recipes. Consumers are appreciative of this free publication, which has more than 40,000 subscribers. “It’s a natural extension of the larger conversations we’ve been having as a brand,” say Farmer and Whitman.
Another pet project at Natural Vitality is soil remineralization. Having abundant minerals in the soil is key for moving nutrients into our foods, and then into our bodies. “Tracing this to its ‘roots,’ we found that most of our soils are mineral depleted,” explain Farmer and Whitman, who decided to do something about it. “Of course when we consume this marginally healthy produce (which doesn’t taste like much or smell like much), we’re only getting a portion of what we should and thus we need supplements to fill the gap.”
They say the remineralization process is simple, inexpensive, effective and natural, and benefits farmers, retailers and consumers. Therefore, since 2007, the Natural Vitality staff has championed its Calm Earth Project—and numerous other giving-back opportunities. “While focusing on environmental non-profits Remineralize The Earth and the Bionutrient Food Association, we have also worked with Conservation International, Organics4Orphans, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Center for Food Safety, Heifer International, American Forests, the Special Olympics, Vitamin Angels, Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas, Wounded Warriors Project and a host of others,” they explain.
The company is pleased to do so, with Farmer and Whitman saying, “We believe one of the greatest joys in life is helping to make things better.”
And certainly the calmful tools that Natural Vitality is making available to the public are doing just that.
The Science Niche
With a pharmaceutical background, Majeed founded Sabinsa nearly 30 years ago, but his original intent still drives the company. “My background in science is the basis for the Sabinsa approach: using modern science to validate and expand upon the traditional knowledge of Ayurveda,” he states.
How this pursuit played out in tangible ways has been huge. The firm’s large portfolio of innovative branded ingredients is backed by a solid collection of published scientific studies. In addition, Sabinsa owns well over 100 U.S. patents, earned generally recognized as safe status for several brands, and has several health claims approved in Canada.
For Majeed, these spokes all rotate around the central wheel of science, in which the firm has invested heavily. “We have over 100 scientists on staff doing solid research,” states Majeed. “It’s gratifying to see what Sabinsa and Sami Labs have become from that basic aspiration to validate my country of origin’s historic medical system.”
With the belief that scientific validation should be the core of every Sabinsa product on the marketplace, there is no endpoint of scientific study for ingredients. Part of the reason why, says Majeed, is that many of its ingredients are application specific, and Sabinsa wants to make sure the uses and benefits of all its brands are fully realized and their safety is demonstrated.
He states, “Research on even our most established products is ongoing because I truly believe that science is dynamic and therefore we take it as our responsibility to gather new evidence and new findings on our products.”
Patents and Research
As of late September, Sabinsa had 123 U.S. patents to its name and the company continues to add to its impressive roster. The firm is also not afraid to defend its hard work and intellectual property through litigation when necessary. Doing so, says Majeed, is important, especially to safeguard future research projects.
“For a company to continue to invest in research and innovation, which is costly, you must have a way to protect your discoveries so that income can fund additional research,” he says, noting this research is, of course, connected to future discoveries and even more innovation later on. “Innovation is what drives our industry, and, more importantly, it benefits mankind,” he states.
Therefore, he believes that research is worth investing in, both for Sabinsa and for the companies that buy its products. “I always tell our customers, the extra amount we ask per kg goes directly to funding more research, and any intellectual property we can develop from that work. This then goes directly back to defending the patents and other intellectual property that research makes possible,” he states.
He uses Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex® as an example, saying its patent has allowed the firm to invest in human clinical trials that both confirmed and uncovered specific health benefits. “We’ve had to defend our curcumin intellectual property from infringers, but the patent protection is strong and we always prevail because we well understand how important it is,” he states.
As a show of how serious Sabinsa is about science, Majeed gives readers insight into its investment: “Millions of dollars have been spent and will continue to be spent, because to us, it’s the right thing to do. Each year, we invest 6–8% of our net income back into research.”
And, the Sabinsa team of scientists seems to have no trouble thinking of new areas for exploration. Sabinsa’s LactoSpore is the centerpiece of “some really exciting studies yet to come out,” while new research on DigeZyme delves into its possibilities in the sports area—that is previously unchartered territory. Sabinsa is also planning to release a new sports-centric study on Sabeet, its standardized beet root extract, as well as new research on ForsLean and “the true workings of coleus in our system for better weight management,” says Majeed.
This is just a snapshot of the research happenings at Sabinsa, with Majeed adding, “research even takes us beyond the lab itself.” By that, he means that the company is heavily invested in research at the farm level, “alongside farmers, educating them on agricultural practices such as those that minimize the use of pesticides, adding irrigation lines for the farms and bringing accessible water to the villagers.”
He explains that these investments have returns that are many-fold, with farmers better able to grow high-quality raw materials for Sabinsa.