Did you know you have a choice between consuming synthetic or whole food vitamins? Have you ever found yourself in the supplement aisle trying to decide which one is best? Dr. David Wang, ND is responsible for creating Pranin Organic and its transformative suite of whole food vitamins. As a leader in the wellness industry and founder of a planet-centred company, we were privileged to connect with Dr. Wang about the origins of Pranin’s PureFood powders and their health benefits.
We chatted with Dr. David Wang, ND about treating chronic diseases, the benefits of whole food vitamins, and the concept of “food as medicine.” Don’t miss Dr. Wang’s tips for choosing a supplement!
WEHL: Please tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start Pranin Organic.
DW: I spent most of my schooling in Ontario, in Toronto. Growing up in the seventies and eighties, there was no such thing as organic food, gluten-free this, dairy-free that. It was all processed food. I ate the standard American diet, and I eventually developed terrible cramps and diarrhea which was eventually diagnosed as IBS. My doctor didn’t know the cause, couldn’t really help me, and here I was going through high school and university. For about a dozen years I really suffered with these terrible cramps and diarrhea, and didn’t get any solution other than prescription drugs from my doctor, none of which helped.
I was attending the University of Toronto pre-med in the zoology program. That’s what everyone did if you were trying to get into med school – you studied zoology. I said to my dad one day, because there was an expectation to be the fourth generation doctor in our family, “Dad, I don’t want to be that doctor that doesn’t know how to treat a problem and just keeps prescribing drugs.”
I then pursued naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1986. Within my first year of learning new things and switching to a plant-based diet, all of my symptoms with IBS disappeared! That really was a turning point and why I became passionate about “food as medicine”.
My new calling at the time was, “Well, can I figure out all the other causes of other diseases that people are suffering from and how can I help them?” So that really was the start of it.
I graduated in 1990. I then came out West and worked with a mentor of mine for two years – Dr. Leo Roy in Kelowna. After that I came to Vancouver and started my practice in 1992.
Most of my practice has been focused on treating chronic diseases, and because of my mentorship with Dr. Roy who cared for many cancer patients, I saw many cancer patients from the very start.
After seeing chronic degenerative diseases like that, and my early exposure to Dr. Roy’s philosophy about “food as medicine,” I was always curious why it was that many of the supplements I was using in the years following the start of my practice weren’t working consistently. And many patients were getting side effects like headaches, nausea and vomiting from taking these supplements.
So I decided to dig deeper.
In 2006, I did a lot of investigation to understand where these supplements come from. I wrote a white paper on it. Based on what I saw, to my shock at the time, most of these supplements are made with synthetic ingredients. Vitamins were made with synthetic petroleum and coal tar derivatives, and minerals were largely made with rock-based minerals that people can’t digest or absorb!
When I discovered this, I was in utter shock, and decided I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I didn’t sign up to be a naturopathic doctor who recommends pharmaceutical agents disguised as nutrients! Ethically I couldn’t do it.
So I threw away $30,000 of products from my own clinic dispensary. I found myself without any nutritional supplements to use.
What followed, a couple years later was, “Well, I better start my own company because no one else is doing what I think is true nutrition!” So that’s where Pranin was born.
It took me five years and about a million dollars of my own personal funding to create this line of supplements that you see today, and to develop them to the level that I was satisfied that I could use them for my cancer patients, moms and kids and all these people that are sensitive to chemicals.
At the end of five years, I arrived at two conclusions:
- No one was having any side effects.
- I was having tremendous success helping many of the common problems we see today.
WEHL: Why did you choose to name your business Pranin?
DW: Pranin really encapsulates what we’re all about. A fundamental principle of nutrition is that only live nutrients can support the living.
Synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals.
Pranin, literally, means life.
WEHL: What is a PureFood powder and what are the health benefits of it?
DW: The PureFood products are really meant to be foundational nutrients.
We all know about the studies showing that people are deficient in vitamins particularly when they’re eating processed foods, eating on the run, and they’re stressed. In addition, minerals and trace minerals in our soils have become depleted over time.
So we need to have supplements. Our A to Z product is a foundational product that provides the full range of essential vitamins – from Vitamin A to mineral Zinc. If you need extra vitamins, such as B and C which are critical for people who are tired, stressed, who face metabolic challenges such as deficient adrenals, there are PureFood B and C products available.
WEHL: Tell us about Iron and how the PureFood Iron product is unique.
DW: Iron is so important because we’re all aerobic metabolizers, so we need that oxygen to be able to effectively turn that sugar that’s delivered to our mitochondria to the highest yield of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). We have a plant-based PureFood Iron.
The conventional mineral products that you find elsewhere, which are made of rocks and sand, may increase cardiovascular risk; they’re not being absorbed into the body, they stay in circulation, harden the arteries, and this leads to heart attacks and strokes. These are fundamental issues that we have with our supplement industry.
This is why I’m so passionate about finding solutions, and seeing people coming back, saying “Thank you, Dr. Wang. This is working! This is helping!” Now I’m seeing cases of people reversing the osteoporosis using plant-based minerals as it was intended to be.
Let’s stop fooling ourselves thinking that we know better than Mother Nature. Let’s stop making supplements in labs using rocks that just don’t work.
North Americans are over-spending on medical care; we pride ourselves on the best medicine, we have ample numbers of hospitals and doctors who are well-trained, well-intentioned, but we’re not preventing anything, we’re not treating the causes, and we’re using supplements based in labs that are using chemicals and rocks. There is something wrong with this big picture.
Google “magnetic breakfast cereal” and you’ll see YouTube videos of people who are using different types of fortified cereals floating in a bowl full of water, and there’s a guy passing with a magnet over the top. There’s this trail of cereal following behind it. The only logical reason is that the iron in these cereals is made of metallic iron.
That’s our reality. Typical iron supplements have been very difficult to absorb; they cause side effects like upset stomachs, constipation, and, as you know, anemia is hard to reverse.
Coming back to our discussion about iron, we’re reversing anemia in one to two months in most people using our plant-based iron made by Mother Nature from curry leaves.
WEHL: How do you formulate and produce each PureFood powder?
DW: It took me about five years to develop. I brought in raw materials from around the world. I didn’t really trust a lot of the databases online so I had to test everything myself. Eventually I was able to put these ingredients together into formats that I felt were useful.
WEHL: Do you have any tips for choosing a supplement?
DW: Right now there’s a real push by Big Pharma to get FDA and Health Canada to drop chemical names [from labels] – trying to fool the consumer into thinking that unlabelled foods are “clean.” This is why, for the most part, organic food sales have increased over the years. Really, the only way you can tell, when looking at many rows of supposed “natural health products” in a natural health food store, is the organic symbol. If there’s no organic symbol, then you know that the product may not be made from food. Anyone who says that their products are made from organic ingredients on the side of their bottles but doesn’t have the organic symbol is simply lying. There’s standards and regulations in place that require that everyone who displays the organic symbol must be certified through a third party verifier (like Pro Cert or Eco Cert) that confirms that the product is organic. By law, the product needs to have 95 % or more organic ingredients before the Canadian or U.S. organic symbol can be used.
Before long, Cyanocobalamin, which is the synthetic version of B12, will only be called Vitamin B12 if Big Pharma has their way. So you won’t really be able to tell the difference between a conventional, synthetic B12 and a natural B12. The only way you’ll know is looking for the organic symbol.
For more related information and a great resource on quick ways to tell if your vitamin is synthetic, click here.
WEHL: We noticed your products are made in glass jars. What made you choose this type of packaging?
DW: The packaging for PureFood products is recyclable and we encourage people to reuse our glass jars (e.g. candle holders, homemade cosmetic containers, etc.). The amber glass jars protect the powders from oxidation which degrades the nutrients. We didn’t want to use plastic bottles because we wanted to prevent our powders from being exposed to potential chemicals leaching from the plastics.
WEHL: Do you have any tips for someone who wants to start a wellness-related business?
DW: At the start there is always passion. But passion itself is not enough. You need to get some education. Whether it’s going to a nutritional program, studying herbology, getting into a naturopathic program, you need some knowledge to be able to help people. Once you have that knowledge base and passion, follow where it takes you.
As life presents itself, and as we age, whatever we may have planned 20 years ago, is not necessarily the case. It’s a circuitous route to getting to where you are today.
Be able to surrender. Work hard. Accept what is, and accept the challenges that come your way. Challenges turn into opportunities. Be able to go back to your core beliefs and your passion – that’s what helped me get to where I am today. Collaborate with people who are like-minded.
Think about the Berlin Wall coming down and how that happened. Without a collective belief, that would never have happened. I actually talked to people that I knew from East Germany who worked for the East German government who were at the wall at the time it came down, and their job was to secure that wall. And yet they stood there, and watched as people climbed that wall and basically busted it down. It really speaks to the collective consciousness and what people really want.
There’s a mega trend in just the last five years: globally, people are moving away from drugs and wanting “food as medicine.” We created a product line 10 years ago and we were a little ahead of the curve at the time. I knew that we would eventually get here. The right product at the right time for the right people who are looking for these products.
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