Even though it didn’t get a catchy name, this flu season in the United States has been the most severe since the swine flu epidemic in 2009. While influenza season is winding down with the melting snow, there are still a few more risky weeks to get through. Thankfully, one local product that does have a catchy name may be just the hero Western Mass needs to fight off influenza.
Dr. Schnuffie’s is not in fact a Winnie the Pooh character, but a locally made natural supplement that can help give your body the boost it needs to fight off or prevent viruses. The two Dr. Schnuffie’s products, Stay Well, a daily supplement to prevent colds, and Get Well, an immune support for when you’re already sick, were developed by Dr. Alan Inglis and Andrew Blechman in Great Barrington.
Despite the fluffy sounding name, Dr. Schnuffie’s is actually a powerhouse as far as supplements go.
“Ours is like Thor’s hammer,” Blechman said. “Theirs is like throwing a toothpick at it.”
Inglis first developed a “recipe” of herbal supplements and vitamins and minerals to recommend to his patients at his practice in Great Barrington. One of those patients was Blechman, a journalist, who then went out to buy each recommended vitamin and herbal supplement to bring with him while travelling when risk of illness is high.
“I used to take his recipe but it was expensive, I had to shop for (all of the ingredients), and nothing comes in the right amounts,” said Blechman.
A year and a half ago Blechman asked Inglis if his recipe could be turned into a tablet and Dr. Schnuffie’s was born.
The tablets contains high doses of vitamin A, D, and C, zinc, and herbal extracts. Inglis explained that Dr. Schnuffie’s is unique on the supplement market because of its high potency. He compared it to using a fire hose versus using a sprinkler.
“Each individual ingredient has abundant research for their favorable effects on the immune system,” Inglis said.
“It’s as few ingredients as necessary and as high a dose as possible,” Blechman added.
Dr. Mark Pettus, the director of medical education and population health at Berkshire Health Systems in Pittsfield, endorses Dr. Schnuffie’s and explained that most people don’t get enough of these vitamins through food.
“Most of these vitamins are fat soluble, and many people don’t get sufficient fat-soluble vitamins in their diet because many people have adhered to the low fat diet,” Pettus said.
While all of the ingredients work well individually, Pettus explained that it’s the synergy between the different vitamins and minerals that really makes Dr. Schnuffie’s effective. In food, vitamins are not generally found individually, but in groups. That’s part of the reason why taking a pure vitamin C supplement at the onset of a cold might not be as effective as taking several different vitamins, especially because popular vitamin C products often also contain sugar.
“It would be like taking an orchestra and comparing it to just the trombone section” Pettus said. “That still has value, but not the same value as the whole orchestra.”
Inglis has training in functional medicine, which is a medical practice that focuses on the optimal performance of the body and can involve alternative and holistic medicine. The Dr. Schnuffie’s recipe takes a functional medicine approach to curing and preventing a cold or flu by looking beyond just masking symptoms and including some aspects of holistic medicine. Inglis chose to include some botanical supplements in Dr. Schnuffie’s, including elderberry, ginger, olive leaf, and rosemary. All of the herbal extracts Inglis chose to include are backed by research (which is available in the form of a bibliography on the Dr. Schnuffie’s website) that shows their benefits to the immune system.
“I take a deep look at cause, not just symptoms,” Ingles said.
Inglis’ focus on cause is also why Dr. Schnuffie’s can be considered not just a replacement for other supplements, but a replacement for generic cold medicine. Inglis explained that most cold medicines only treat symptoms, but Dr. Schnuffie’s provides the body with a high dose of vitamins and minerals that will help the body do a better job of treating its own symptoms, from helping with inflammation to helping the body to kill off the virus.
Dr. Schnuffie’s wellness formulas are unique local products because supplements are not generally produced locally. The tablets themselves are manufactured within 100 miles of Great Barrington and Blechman and Inglis are focusing their sales on local markets where they can do in person deliveries and tabling.
“Ideally we will be the Ben and Jerry’s of supplements,” Blechman said.
After a year of sales that, according to Blechman, exceeded expectations, the Schnuffie’s team is looking at UMass Amherst and other college campuses as their next market. They were recently taken on by the UMass Isenberg School of Management as a local business case study. Blechman and Inglis are getting advice from the business students about how to best market their product at colleges with the help of student ambassadors. They are also able to talk to students about what is in Dr. Snchuffie’s and why it works.
“He loves teaching people how to take care of themselves,” Blechman said of Inglis. Given this year’s flu season, learning how to best stay healthy is more important than ever.
Meg Bantle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.