May 2014 is a special time for us here at Igennus Healthcare Nutrition as we mark our 10th anniversary. Since 2004, we have pioneered therapeutic EPA-only omega-3 formulations, offering effective science-based healthcare solutions for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. As we celebrate our 10th birthday, we’d like to reflect and share with you our beginnings, developments leading to the current day and, finally, give you a little insight into what we believe our future holds.
Igennus is a specialist and partially family-run company based in Cambridge – the UK’s hub of innovation. Our co-founder and CEO Dr Jav Nazemi is the driving force behind our patented omega-3 supplements, which started after he learned how EPA could play a strong role in managing heart health naturally and without medication – a discovery that both assisted his youngest daughter’s heart condition and led to the creation of Igennus Healthcare Nutrition in 2004. Igennus was founded on the principles of holistic health and nutritional science and this ethos continues to guide the company today.
We launched our patented supplement, Vegepa®, in 2004 and it remains the company’s best-selling supplement and most widely known brand – thanks to widespread media coverage in the national press and television, brand mentions in peer-reviewed journal articles and impressive results in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in ADHD, as well as many endorsements in books on conditions ranging from ME/CFS and candida to ADHD, depression and schizophrenia. Over the past decade, we have supplied our super-premium omega-3 EPA supplements to thousands of consumers, independent health food shops & pharmacies and complementary practitioners, as well as having fulfilled prescriptions for a wide range of conditions.
How it all began
It’s not always easy to see the positive during a crisis – let alone an opportunity – but this was exactly how the seed of an idea for a specialist nutrition business was planted in the mind of Igennus’ co-founder and CEO, Dr Jav Nazemi.
In 1998, Jav’s family experienced a health scare with their youngest daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. It appeared that rheumatic fever had triggered an autoimmune reaction, caused by a ‘strep throat’ infection. Widespread inflammation left Jav’s daughter with irreversible damage to the mitral valve, which caused blood clots and blind spots in her vision.
Determined not to rely on lifelong prescriptions of penicillin and aspirin, the family avidly researched how nutrition could help to manage their daughter’s condition and prevent further blood clotting. Strong believers in holistic health (in terms of both prevention and cure), the family were receptive to the cutting edge research on omega-3 that they were introduced to after a friend put Jav in touch with Professor Basant Puri – an eminent researcher, author and proponent of nutritional medicine. Professor Puri spoke highly of the blood-thinning properties of omega-3 fish oil – an innovative idea in 1998.
It didn’t take much further research to discover the phenomenal health properties and therapeutic potential of consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids – in particular, EPA. Spotting a large gap in the market for EPA-rich omega-3 supplements offering therapeutic doses, Jav’s passion for the role of nutrition in health and disease was ignited. This was the start of a journey that led to a dramatic change of career direction for Jav, the formation of Igennus Healthcare Nutrition and the creation of the first EPA-only supplement range in the UK. Jav, his wife and two daughters all now work at Igennus and their values, principles and approach to health continue to guide our multi-faceted philosophy and vision.
The current day
Ten years on, Igennus has branched into many areas of health concern with an inflammatory basis, where EPA offers therapeutic benefits. Our dedicated focus on EPA has led to expertise in brain function and mental health, developmental disorders, cardiovascular health, inflammatory joint conditions and CFS/ME.
From the very beginning, we have pioneered the use of pure EPA as preventative and restorative for health. The company has remained true to its roots and carved out a specialist expertise in the area of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Our patented product Vegepa now has a dedicated and loyal following, with thousands of customers taking daily doses of pure EPA for inflammatory conditions and ailments ranging from CFS, psoriasis, arthritis and diabetes to depression, ADHD and schizophrenia. A range of augmented products now complement each other, each tailored to different actions.
Commitment to efficacy, quality and sustainability
Research and development are central to the innovation of Igennus’ specialist EPA supplements, which are developed in association with in-house nutrition scientists and independent researchers and clinicians. The provision of efficacious supplements suitable as natural treatment methods or add-on treatments necessitates a relentless focus on quality and safety – a company-wide commitment that influences choice of suppliers, types of raw materials, packaging facilities and even testing labs. All Igennus fatty acid products are independently batch-tested to guarantee safety and are certified free from heavy metals, PCBs and dioxins.
The company won’t compromise on using natural ingredients and avoid artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners at all costs – a commitment that has its challenges. It took a product reformulation and months of testing to produce what is now a pleasant and palatable child-friendly chewable capsule for children – a considerable feat without the aid of sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavourings.
Looking to the future
Igennus is the only remaining independently owned UK manufacturer of fatty acid supplements. Dr Jav Nazemi, CEO, comments: “Igennus is unique in the UK omega-3 sector. We are the only privately owned UK-based omega-3 brand, whose founding principles and ethos continue to guide the company strategy and operational decisions.
“With the majority of omega-3 brands owned by large multinational parent companies or even pharma, we’re unique in the UK not only in terms of our focus on EPA, but also in being led by cutting edge science, even when market opportunities and growth could be found in other areas with more mainstream awareness and understanding. It’s an uphill battle being a pioneer and an educator.
“When you’re a relative newcomer, it takes time to change understanding and opinion, especially when cutting edge information runs counter to previous understanding and continuing beliefs. But whilst we are alone in the UK in terms of advocating pure EPA for inflammatory conditions, we are encouraged by more and more published evidence coming to light, very positive results from meta-analyses, and pure EPA becoming a licenced prescription drug for heart health in the USA.”
Head of Clinical Nutrition, Dr Nina Bailey, says: “Meta-analyses have shown the isolated benefits of EPA, quite distinct from DHA, in neurodevelopmental disorders, aspects of cardiovascular health and mental health disorders including depression and schizophrenia. Igennus stands firm in its position on EPA science, knowing that the supporting evidence for its benefits is getting stronger each day.”
Marketing Director Mina Nazemi, comments: “The tremendous feedback from our customers and practitioners for EPA in a wide range of conditions is not only immensely rewarding for the team here – knowing that we are making a positive difference to people’s health – but also indicative of the real clinical potential of this nutrient. We are excited about the future as we have the opportunity to help improve the health of many more thousands of individuals, so we are committed to translating the complex cutting edge science into meaningful and easy-to-apply information for the layperson. We don’t consider ourselves just manufacturers, but passionate educators on the bigger picture of nutrition, diet and lifestyle too.”
Jav adds: “We are confident that EPA science will become established and more accepted over the next decade and that it will help support people worldwide to improve their health. At Igennus we embrace change and new learning; we promise to remain science-led in our bid to provide health-conscious and concerned individuals with effective, natural nutrition supplements and continuing support in the face of the greater range of conditions being seen, particularly in Western populations.”