I think we have all, at some point in our lives, experienced the sense of knowing something before we know it, even if we can’t explain how.
When I began my training to become a naturopathic colonic hydrotherapist, I had feeling that I was embarking on something much bigger. I didn’t know what it would lead to, but I knew that I was on a path towards something that aligned perfectly with who I was and what I believed in. It was, for want of a better expression, a true gut feeling.
From day one of my training, I knew that I was in the right place at the right time, with the right person – the wonderful late Dr. Milo Siewert, the founding father of modern colon hydrotherapy in the UK. I was training in a therapy that would change my life and potentially the lives of millions of people. It was such a strong and profound feeling, and it still is.
I had no idea, at that time, what huge problems we had in the UK and indeed the western world with digestive and gut disorders/disease. Over the years since qualifying, I have embraced every opportunity to learn; I strive continually to increase my knowledge – simply put, I am a lifelong learner. However busy my days are, I can always create time to educate myself. Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before; it is a most enjoyable privilege to take this convenience and utilise it to develop and expand my vision.
When I set up my digestive and gut disorders clinic, I started to truly understand the extent of the digestive and gut health problems we were faced with then, and still are today. I got very busy, very quickly; there was an astonishing number of people booking in for digestive/gut consultations and colon hydrotherapy treatments. In those days, I was still working three days a week giving physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments. It soon became apparent that the other three days I dedicated to digestive/gut consultations and colonics simply weren’t enough, so I stopped all my physio work and became a full-time naturopathic colon hydrotherapist. I also took up a role, sitting on the Advisory Board of the UK’s IBS charity, The IBS Network, which gave me more insights into the problem we have with IBS alone – around 20% of the population diagnosed with it, and that’s not including the millions who suffer in silence, afraid to seek help due to shame and embarrassment. Attending conferences and exhibitions on digestive/gut health, with a focus on the important role the gut microbiome and probiotics play in our overall health and wellbeing, gave me further knowledge and impetus to make a difference.
When my appointment book at the clinic became fully booked four to six months in advance, I found myself recommending digestive/gut health food supplements, probiotics, digestive enzymes, omega 3s etc., so people could at least try and get some relief from their bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and so on until they could get in to see me.
It was at this point that my husband, Kevin, happened to ask one day, “Why are you recommending other manufacturers’ probiotics and digestive health supplements? You’re the expert. You have (at that time) 23 years’ experience in natural medicine, and digestive and gut health, and you know the best and most effective strains of probiotics for certain symptoms and health conditions. Why don’t you develop your own range?”
So I did. It took 2 years from that idea to launching the Just For Tummies website in August 2015. I must admit that the timing was good, as I was looking for a challenge. I wasn’t, however, quite prepared for the enormity of the challenge! I had other commitments, including being Vice-Chair for The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists, as well as my role with The IBS Network. My clinic was also very busy, and both my elderly parents needed support, and continue to do so.
I don’t think the time is ever right to start something like this. But you follow your passions, you dive in, keep your head down, plough through and hope you come out alive the other end! My ambition was to produce a range of probiotics and supplements that would help the millions of people in the UK and beyond have a much better quality of life.
I knew exactly what strains of bacteria I wanted in my Live Bacteria probiotic capsules, strains including lactobacillus rhamnosus that in studies have been shown to reduce bloating and abdominal pain, and for my new For Women probiotic capsules, the strain lactobacillus reuteri, shown to reduce UTIs. My plant-based Digestive Enzymes contain papain from the papaya fruit, known to help break down animal protein, in particular red meat, so avoiding excessive putrefaction in the stomach and gut, and helping improve transit time, meaning fewer problems with constipation.
It has been a real thrill and a privilege to develop my range. I can’t say it’s been easy. In fact, it’s been tough, working six days a week in my clinic from 9am-7pm, then coming home, grabbing a quick bite to eat, before working on my Just For Tummies business. For over two years, it consumed my every waking hour, and my sleep, as I would dream about it too. However, I now work two days a week in the clinic so I have a much better balance.
I receive so many wonderful emails and messages via my Facebook pages about how people’s lives have changed for the better after taking my Just For Tummies products, in particular the Live Bacteria probiotics. It makes all the hard work worth it.
My vision is to develop more strain-specific probiotics, from cradle to grave, so there will be probiotics for newborns up to centenarians. I want to make Just For Tummies a nationwide brand, not just for the quality and efficacy of the supplements, but also for education, awareness and support. Our gut microbiome is our ‘root system’. If we neglect it, we will pay for it with declining health, premature ageing and early death. I don’t mind getting older, but I do mind feeling old.
I’m excited to see how the rest of this journey unfolds. I don’t know where my motivation comes from. It’s just something at the very core of me. I see a huge unmet need, people suffering, and I know there are safe, natural probiotics, supplements and other therapies to help them. I want to make a difference, and I can make a difference, or at least the probiotics and other Just For Tummies supplements can – it’s as simple as that really.