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A trusted friend who works with people seeking better mental health called to say she had a new product called Amare that was giving her patients amazing results. This is why, at Meridian, we were interested in taking a look. Was there something we could do to help the thousands of people we reach each day?
We are in a global health challenge. One in four people will experience a mental health crisis this year. You or someone in your family may be one of them. The following is the story of Rich Higbee, whose entire family was thrust into an emotional challenge and how that motivated him and others to explore the latest science on mental wellness to form Amare, a company dedicated to giving natural remedies for mental health. Knowing emotional pain first-hand, the founders were highly motivated to find a way to alleviate it—for themselves and for millions of sufferers all over the world.
The surprise is that mental well-being begins in the gut as well as the brain. Where we sit in the history of research on mental wellness is at a complete paradigm shift.
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For a hundred or more years, science has described mental wellness as a result of what was going on in one’s head. That’s why we have targeted the brain with chemicals, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, amphetamines and more.
However, emerging science has shown that it’s not all about what’s happening primarily in the brain. What we’re seeing happening in the brain is actually a secondary effect of something else that’s happening in the body. What we’ve learned in the last ten years is that the primary target is in the gut.
In fact, the gut produces more neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, than the brain. These so called “feel-good” neurotransmitters regulate the mood and affect one’s overall mental wellness. This is why modern science has labeled the gut as the second brain. Your mental well-being hinges on addressing the needs of both your gut and your brain.
An Unexpected Assault upon Well-Being
Like most of us, Rich Higbee never expected to cope with mental health challenges in his family, or that one daughter’s unhappiness could end up flooding his entire family. He has worked in the health and wellness industry for 24 years and has the gospel—enough to surely have a vibrant, mentally well family. Yet, we don’t always get what we expect, including Rich who didn’t know what an unexpected turn his life would take.
His daughter, Reese, was a bright and lively 13-year-old, when something dark happened to her. She was sexually assaulted and traumatized, and bottled the horror of it inside without fully understanding what had happened. That’s more than a young teenager—or anybody—can take, and the pain was deep and irreconcilable.
Suddenly, the girl who had been so sunny, was walking a shadowed, tortured pathway, and she seemed nothing like herself. “We didn’t recognize her,” said Rich. “She was obstinate, defiant, angry. She had contrary and self-destructive behavioral issues. She acted out.”
“The first time I really knew something was very wrong, was when, like any typical father, I was trying to force her to get up and make her bed. She turned and looked at me and just started screaming, “Dad, you have destroyed me!”
“I was so conflicted,” Rich described. “I didn’t understand where this anger was coming from and I didn’t know what the typical symptoms of trauma and abuse were. We didn’t understand why she was acting like this, and it got worse and worse.
It got to the point where the behaviors became so extreme that she was stealing money from us. She stole our car. We ended up having to call the police on a number of occasions. That progressed to suicide attempts, then to drug use, then to more visits from the police for possession of drugs, then to stints in jail—ten at last count.”
“One of those times in jail she tried to kill herself. They had accidentally left her jail cell open and she was on the second story. She went up and leaned against the railing and fell backwards 30 feet on to concrete and broke her neck. She spent ten days in the hospital, and when she woke up she was absolutely furious that she had lived,” Rich recounted.
“The doctors thought Reese might have a number of mental health issues. They questioned whether she had borderline personality disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, depression, anxiety—you name it. But they didn’t know for sure, because at the time she was under the age of 18 and they couldn’t confirm 100% what the issues were since her brain was still in development.”
Without question, Rich’s eldest daughter was living in hell.
“We as parents didn’t know what to do. She hated herself and what she was doing to her family. She didn’t know how to change. She was involved with the wrong friends—just the typical cycle of addiction that happens once kids turn to substances to numb themselves,” Rich recalled.
“When she turned 18, it got worse. There were periods of time when she lived on the streets. At one point, she went missing for over a week. We had absolutely no idea where she was. We were terrified we were going to get a call from the police that she had overdosed and died.”
This level of stress permeated the entire family. The other children felt Reese’s anger and sometimes missed the attention of their parents, who were too consumed trying to save her. They were traumatized by all these experiences. There were occasions when they found their sister nearly overdosed with no pulse. They had to call the ambulance to come and get her. Emotional challenges began to settle on the entire family as they tried to cope.
Finally, while he was unsure where Reese was, Rich, himself had an anxiety attack. “I literally had to pull over to the side of the road, because I thought I was having a heart attack. I’d never experienced anything like that before, but I knew I was getting progressively worse,” Rich said.“I knew I was not coping well at all and I needed some help so I could be more present for my family. So, I did what most people do during such an overwhelming crisis: I went to the doctor who prescribed me antidepressant and anxiety medications. At the time, I didn’t know what else to do and I was desperate for help.”
An Interview to Change His Life
While this trauma was happening behind the scenes in his life, Rich’s career was soaring. He loved his job and had no intention of ever leaving. Then out of the blue, he received a call from an executive named Hiep Tran who asked to meet with him. Rich wasn’t planning on going at first, but he couldn’t shake a gut feeling that it was important to check it out.
He flew to Las Vegas for the meeting, which started in a very surprising way. When Hiep greeted Rich at the door, he immediately said, “Don’t be offended if I don’t look you in the eyes. I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, and I have a very hard time looking people in the eyes.” Then he launched into his story. As the son of Vietnam refugees, Hiep grew up feeling that everybody had a better background than he did—that they were smarter and better educated, certainly more successful.
Hiep went on to tell Rich his story. He had dropped out of college, gotten a job as a customer service rep, worked his way up the ranks until he was running the company, and then eventually started his own company. Here he found his gift. He had immense intuition and incredible business acumen, and he knew how to grow a business. Eventually, he sold his business for $225 million and continued to run it as the Global CEO under the new owners. Last year, the company sold again for $3.2 billion.
Yet, despite his success, Hiep has always had low self-esteem—constantly viewing himself as “not being enough.” He struggled with a host of issues that led him to alcohol and substance abuse. So much so, that it nearly killed him. His health was horrible. He was destroying himself and his family. He was a walking paradox—an imminently successful businessman, who knew just what to do to grow money, with a personal life that was a disaster.
Finally, he decided what he was going to do. He took all the energy he had devoted to business and turned it into remaking his life and health. He was determined to find the answers through natural and holistic methods. When he began feeling better and making sure his own life was preserved, he decided it was his mission to help others. He knew the pain, so he wanted to help others who were in pain find healing.
Rich listened to Hiep’s story with intrigue (keep in mind, this was his first interview and meeting with Hiep!). But the next question Hiep had for Rich was even more surprising than anything else. It wasn’t about his business experience or his education. No, it was this: “What is the most difficult thing that you’ve ever been through in your life and how did you handle it?”
Rich was surprised: “I was so taken aback by that question. I’ve interviewed with CEOs from top companies across the country and have never been asked that personal of a question. I just thought, ‘That’s none of your business,’” Rich said laughing.
Then, Rich decided to plunge in and share his story and both men, having been through excruciating difficulties, knew they wanted to do whatever they could to alleviate the pain of others. One night, early into his work with Hiep, Rich woke up and just knew, “We are the mental wellness company.” Amare was born.
Rich, Hiep, and the other founding partners of Amare Global came together to find different approaches to helping support mental health and wellness. “For many years, the only options out there for helping with mental health have been pharmaceutical,” Rich said. “We felt strongly we needed to create a product that can support mental health in a natural way that works with your own body’s systems.”
“We are not anti-pharmaceutical,” Rich explained. “We are anti-ignorance. What we do is support the body with very natural approaches, so it is able to fire off the right chemicals to the brain, so the body is more able to be resilient in the face of stress, occasional anxiety and depression.”
“There’s this whole belief out there that mental health has a negative connotation to it. Mental health and mental illness are increasingly considered to be the same thing, but they are not. Mental health is no different than physical health. The real question is what can we do to optimize our mental health and live a life full of mental wellness? As we support our mental health, we are more resilient to face the challenges and struggles we all go through.”
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How Amare Works
The statistics on mental health are staggering. You undoubtedly know someone dealing with a mental health crisis—and it may be you! Because this is becoming epidemic, people are relentlessly trying to find a solution.
Amare’s vision is to lead the global mental wellness revolution with its cutting-edge science.
As we mentioned, emerging science demonstrates that the gut is the number one place where the “feel-good” neurotransmitters are made—even more than the brain. “Recent studies have revealed that our gut microbiome includes more than 100 trillion bacterial cells—outnumbering human cells by 10-to-1 (more microbes in the human body than stars in the Milky Way),” Amare’ scientist, Dr. Shawn Talbott said, “Since those gut microbes produce more neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine than in the brain itself, if you feel sad, down in the dumps, antsy, stressed out, or just plain “off”—it may not bein your head, it’s probably in your gut!”
“These are the very compounds that shape how we feel—and that means that balance within the gut-brain axis forms the very foundation of mental wellness. “
In order for those neurotransmitters to have their effect in the brain, they have to communicate with each other, and they do that through chemicals that the bacteria in the gut make that travel throughout the body and signal through the nervous system and the immune system. We call that the gut-brain axis. We target the brain and the gut, but we also target the communication system between them.
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Amare is the first company of its kind to develop a total nutritional solution that addresses the gut-brain axis (GBX). The company currently offers twelve all-natural wellness products, including their flagship GBX empowerment product system, the Amare FundaMentals Pack™, which won the prestigious 2018 NutrAward for Best New Finished Product with a Functional Ingredient.
The Amare FundaMentals Pack™ includes three products that are meant to be used together as a coordinated and synergistic “system” to optimize microbiome balance and communication within all aspects of the gut-brain axis.. The FundaMentals Pack comes with MentaBiotics™ (gut), MentaFocus™ (brain) and MentaSync™ (axis). These products connect the gut and brain to enhance and the communication between both brains. The ingredients are shown to improve mood and reduce tension in human critical trials. In addition, MentaBiotics™ includes the Amare Prebiotic Proprietary Blend which supports the growth and vitality of a range of beneficial gut bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
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Amare’s two other product lines offer additional support solutions for mental health. MentaTherapeutics™ includes natural products that help with everyday issues such as energy, sleep and mood (just to name a few!). The MentaEssentials™ line includes elevated essentials, including VitaGBX, which is a premium multivitamin that combines more than 50 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients. It features both the Bright Mind Proprietary Blend (for mind support) and Amare GBX+ Proprietary Blend (for gut-brain axis support) to empower a well-balanced body and mind. The MentaEssentials™ line also includes other supplements that provide the necessary nutrients needed for everyday optimal health.
“Our product philosophy is not just about helping a depressed person feel normal again, but about helping the average person feel amazing,” Rich said. “Support for mental health is critical. It is the issue of the decade. In fact, the World Health Organization calls “stress” the health epidemic of the 21st century. It used to be obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Today, it is stress.”
Family and Future
After Rich’s family had suffered for many years with the trauma resonating from the emotional earthquake in Reese’s life, they all turned to Amare for help. Her mental health had been contagious throughout the entire family. Most of them ended up on medication.
Yet, one by one, as they took Amare products, they began to get better. Rich, for instance, was able to totally wean off other medications, and his family is following. He has great optimism for Reese’s total recovery.
“Resolving our mental health issues cannot be done alone by taking a pill. It may also involve changes in diet, exercise and healing from mental wounds,” Rich added. “Mental health is like a wheel with many spokes.
Amare is creating a platform to deal with all those spokes, and the time could not be more pertinent.”
Amare is committed to supporting mental wellness in every way—and it starts with supporting one’s body in creating mental wellness.
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