Igennus Healthcare Nutrition was formed in 2004 after our Founder and CEO, Dr Jav Nazemi PhD, was inspired by research supporting the therapeutic role of omega-3 fatty acids. Jav’s family experienced a personal crisis when his daughter suffered irreversible heart damage from inflammation caused by rheumatic fever.
Following the research of the eminent researcher and clinician Professor Basant Puri, Jav was exposed to evidence highlighting the remarkable properties of a specific long-chain omega-3, called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Jav’s passion for the role of nutrition in health and disease was ignited and our first patented formulation, Vegepa®, was created. Ten years on, we’ve branched into many areas of health with an inflammatory component including brain function and mental health, developmental disorders, joint conditions and CFS/ME. Most recently, we’ve ventured into supporting optimal wellbeing for key areas of brain health with our MindCare® range. Jav and his family’s values, principles and approach to health continue to guide our multi-faceted philosophy and vision.
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 our Founder and CEO, Dr Jav Nazemi. It is now more than fifteen years since Jav found out that his daughter had a heart condition involving incompetence and stenosis of the mitral valve. Quite uncommon in the UK, rheumatic fever had caused heart inflammation and permanent scarring to the mitral valve such that it became narrowed and unable to close properly. This condition can cause backflow of blood through the heart and ongoing risk of blood clots.In Jav’s daughter’s case, blood clots did form and passed through the body, settling on and scarring the optic nerve, which caused blind spots in her vision. Fortunately for the family, MRI scans showed that there were no clots in the brain. They remained concerned, however, about the implications of her heart condition and how it could be managed and/or treated.
Eventually one friend recommended that Jav call a helpful doctor that he knew. The doctor (now a Professor at Hammersmith Hospital), namely Dr Puri, could not have been more approachable. After telling Dr Puri about his daughter’s valve condition and the theory of the blood clot causing the black spots in her vision, Jav was a little surprised when Dr Puri advised that his daughter should take cod liver oil capsules. Dr Puri explained that the omega-3 fatty acids within the oil would help the blood cells to be more flexible and less likely to clot in future.
“… the body requires a specific ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for the optimum functioning of the body and brain.”
As well as being hugely grateful for the advice, Jav was encouraged that Dr Puri had suggested a natural solution, without the side effects of the aspirin that the doctors at the hospital had recommended. The family, where possible, always opt for natural remedies; firm believers in prevention, they eat a largely Mediterranean diet, low in grains and rarely need to visit the GP. The omega-3 that Dr Puri had advised further fuelled Jav’s interest in natural health; wanting to learn as much as he could about the beneficial properties of fish oil, Jav would read any material he could get his hands on – particularly if it might help his daughter.
His daughter stable, Jav became aware a few years later that Dr Puri was conducting pioneering research with fish oils and getting remarkable results. This was further corroborated by the American Heart Association which was by then extolling the virtues of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. In following Puri’s research, Jav found that Puri and other leading researchers were beginning to distinguish between different types of omega-3.
They were no longer simply suggesting omega-3 was beneficial, but a specific omega-3 fatty acid known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) possessed remarkable properties including thinning the blood. Although DHA (docosahexaenoic acid – another omega-3) was known to be essential for health as it plays a structural role in the body and brain, there was growing evidence that when taking both in combination therapeutically, the DHA was inhibiting the beneficial effects of the EPA. This was found in conditions such as depression, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder.
Jav was determined to find the right supplement for his daughter. According to Professor Puri (and a great deal of research since), the body requires a specific ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for the optimum functioning of the body and brain. He discovered the family of botanical triterpenes – free-radical scavengers – present only in organic cold-pressed virgin EPO. In his search for the right supplement, Jav discovered that a pure EPA (without DHA) omega-3 & omega-6 supplement did not exist. It appeared there was a gap in the market for a super-concentrated high-EPA omega-3 and omega-6 supplement.
“Jav’s entrepreneurial side spurred him on to formulate and produce a fatty acid supplement that would outweigh any other in terms of ratio, concentration and purity.”
Jav’s entrepreneurial side spurred him on to formulate and produce a fatty acid supplement that would outweigh any other in terms of ratio, concentration and purity – one that his family would be 100% happy giving their daughter. Just as the market moved on from cod liver oil to more concentrated fish oils, Jav pioneered a unique pharmaceutical-grade and targeted EPA omega-3 formula based on the research of Professor Basant Puri, which has changed the landscape of the omega supplement market today. Realising that Vegepa® was unique, he immediately applied for a patent which was approved and granted at the end of 2005. Ten years after the launch of Vegepa® in the UK, the company has developed and expanded its product range – with supplements taken by thousands of people who report improvements in a variety of conditions including depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and ADHD, as well as joint and heart problems. Igennus has now broadened its support, beyond clinical nutrition and into wellness nutrition – for those consumers passionate about prevention and seeking support for brain health.