Great Barrington doctor, author team up for immune system boost
One of them is a doctor who zips around in a moped and does not own a car. The other is his patient, who also happens to be a writer.
One day, after physician Alan Inglis gave Andrew Blechman a long list of supplements to buy, Belchman said, "Couldn't there just be one tablet?"
Why yes, there could, Inglis told him.
And Dr. Schnuffie's was born.
Inglis is a Great Barrington internist and integrated medicine practitioner with a mind packed full of studies about vitamins, minerals and various botanicals, among many other things.
In a recent interview with these two, Blechman said it wasn't hard for Inglis to map out a formula for one pill to pack a punch.
"It's $120 worth of stuff in a bottle of tablets for less than $20," Blechman said, bemoaning these expensive but necessary trips to the Berkshire Co-op for supplements that would "fill a basket."
"It's a passion thing for Dr. Inglis, completely and utterly," Belchman went on. "I think of him as Einstein. He's the doctor people travel hours to see, when the regular doctor can't figure out what's wrong."
Blechman said it is pure selfishness that often leads to a great product.
"I wanted it made because I wanted it for myself," he said. "Now it's filling a gap in the health supplement market."
Blechman and Inglis say their two immune products, "Get Well" and "Stay Well" get to the root of the symptoms, but also treat the symptoms of cold and flu.
The heavy hitter here is vitamin D, which in the Get Well high-potency formula has 8,000 IUs.
Inglis said there are more than 47,000 peer review studies about the importance of Vitamin D, and that there is a "true vitamin D deficiency pandemic in that 50 percent of Americans may be lacking optimal amounts."
"It's actually a hormone, but it regulates the cell cycle," he said. "It's important for the absorption of calcium, for mood and the brain, it activates the production of immune system peptides, and cathelicidins that kill viruses and bacteria."
He said he's tested thousands of patients to check their vitamin D level, and "nearly everyone is low."
That's because it's hard to get enough sunlight in the northeast, and in the winter. But it's a problem everywhere as people cover themselves and use sunscreen.
There's also a good dose of vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc in the formulas, as well as other botanicals.
And Inglis said vitamins D and A are "companion nutrients that team up to support the immune system." That research goes back to the 1800s since both exist together in Cod Liver Oil, which was widely used then.
The supplements are FDA approved and "all-natural," according to Inglis and Blechman.
And already there have been some solid endorsements, including one from the associate dean of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.
"While I do not ordinarily recommend many supplements to my patients, Dr. Schnuffie's COLD + FLU is an exception," wrote Mark Pettus. "I cannot imagine anyone with a stubborn cold or upper respiratory infection who would not benefit. The ingredients have been thoughtfully developed, proven to be effective and without the unnecessary side effects that come with most prescriptions and OTC cold remedies."
In the spirit of the Berkshires, Blechman gives his own endorsement.
"No one is doing a local cold remedy," he said. "Co-ops support local and we're it."
Dr. Schnuffie's is in stock in all the large co-ops from Albany to Boston/Cambridge and even up in Brattleboro, Vt., Blechman said. It's also selling at both Guido's Fresh Marketplaces, and the Lenox Village Pharmacy.
But it's selling best on Amazon.
Inglis and Blechman met when they were town Select Board members. And Blechman, who is also the author of two nonfiction books, said Inglis has already crafted formulas for new products for digestion, sleep and aging. "And maybe a 'Look Well' for hair, skin and nails," Blechman said.
When asked how he travels beyond town on a moped, Inglis laughs and says he'll borrow his wife's car.
And when asked why he doesn't own a car, Blechman jumps in.
"He just doesn't have one," he said. "Dr. Inglis just thinks his own way and he doesn't care what other people think."
Neither does Blechman, who gave this serious product his daughter Lily's nickname because "no one forgets it."
Inglis said they might name a new product after Blechman's dog, Gingersnap.
Reach staff writer Heather Bellow at 413-329-6871.
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