For a long time, I have been observing with concern that old knowledge is being lost almost irretrievably. This actually affects all areas of life. My grandmother, for example, still knew how to properly preserve food in the cellar without a refrigerator so that it would be preserved for a long time. Her manual skills were also remarkable. She was not only excellent at baking and cooking, but also at sewing, knitting and crocheting. But not only that. She also knew native plants and herbs that could help with unwellness or illness.
And it is precisely this knowledge that this interview is about. My interview partner Dr. Elisabeth Haider has worked intensively with it and tried to make it accessible to us again in many different ways.
Daniel Kövary (Founder stuul):
Hello Elisabeth, I am very happy to explore old knowledge with you and to learn how to transfer it into modern times in the form of meaningful and good products. With your start-up NATURAVELLA you combine organic products in premium quality with partly very old herbal knowledge. Tell us how you came to this topic.
Dr. Elisabeth Haider (Founder & CEO of NATURAVELLA):
I founded NATURAVELLA out of my parents' family business, which has been successfully running spa hotels with a sustainable philosophy in the health sector in Austria for over 40 years. So I grew up, so to speak, with the philosophy for a healthier life.
The mission or motivation for my own products comes from a personal experience: due to my challenging job as an executive in a large corporation, I suffered from sluggish digestion and constipation for years. As a very nature-loving person, however, I did not want to take strong medications and was looking for natural alternatives. Due to my background and education, I intensively studied the topic of stomach/intestine/liver for several years in order to improve my health condition in the long term.
My personal success story motivated me to also help other people with natural products to achieve greater well-being. Thus, in cooperation with doctors and a team of experts, NATURAVELLA stomach and liver products were created. They are based on innovative recipes combined with ancient herbal knowledge, e.g. from Hildegard von Bingen or Bertrand Heidelberger.
Daniel: I just ordered the biography of Hildegard von Bingen because this woman impressed me so much when I was preparing for this interview.
Her approach is holistic - and that makes it so relevant, especially in today's world: life can only succeed when the human body, soul and spirit work together. Her extraordinary abilities as a healer were based on a comprehensive knowledge of the plants in her environment and their specific effects on our health. In order to revive the healing knowledge of the Middle Ages, the University of Würzburg, Germany, for example, has also set up a working group on "Klostermedizin". In the writings of Hildegard von Bingen, they have discovered many "new old" healing substances.
I would be interested to know how you approached the subject. How do you find the right experts and how do you then turn ancient writings and modern analyses into marketable products?
Elisabeth: I'm fortunate to come from a large, well-educated family. Even my great-grandmother and grandfather were enthusiastic about natural remedies before terms like "clean eating" or "organic" were even heard.
The life, work and unique herbal philosophy of Hildegard von Bingen impressed me as a teenager. Through the various health farms of my extended family, I have been friends for many years with a Hildegard doctor and a nutritionist who specializes in medicinal herbs. The recipes are actually based on old family recipes, which we have given a modern face by combining them with the current organic and green food trend.
The premium quality of our products is very important to me, as I can only offer the best formulations with a clear conscience. In addition to the careful selection of the best organic raw materials and optimal bioavailability, it is important to us that our products are manufactured regionally in sustainably managed factories.
Daniel: Please give us a brief overview of the different NATURAVELLA products. How and where exactly do they work in the gastrointestinal tract?
Elisabeth: The foundation of our health and immune system lies in our digestive and detoxifying organs. That is why NATURAVELLA products are based on the 3 pillars of stomach, intestines and liver. Due to space limitations, I would like to focus on 2 of our most popular products: The journey of our food begins in the stomach.
In order to produce enough gastric acid and to break down the food into the best usable parts, our stomach needs a lot of bitter substances from high quality bitter herbs. This is where our product BitterGrün comes in: A bitter blend that combines 7 optimally balanced, high-quality organic bitter herbs as a superfood. The bitter substances contained in BitterGreen stimulate the flow of saliva and the production of gastric acid, making our food much easier to digest. We recommend BitterGreen after heavy meals, when you have a sweet tooth or cravings, or as needed in between meals to aid digestion.
It continues in the intestines. From here, nutrients reach all organs and the bloodstream. In order for the intestines to function optimally, they need plenty of fiber from plant sources and bulking agents that stimulate and promote intestinal activity. Our product DamoVera is rich in organic fibers such as Indian Psyllium Husk and Oat Bran, exquisite organic spices and active bacterial cultures. It forms a natural protective layer in the intestines and thus supports the cleansing of the digestive and excretory organs.
As a natural dietary supplement, no specific uses are officially recommended, but many customers have reported using DamoVera for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea.
Daniel: Natural bitterness and fiber are the very ingredients that are rarely found in industrially processed foods, or are even intentionally removed. Many fruits and vegetables do not contain as much natural bitterness as they did a few decades ago. They have been deliberately bred to better suit consumer tastes. If the finished products are bitter, the bitter taste is often caused by additives, which is why the positive health effect is missing.
Basically, with NATURAVELLA's products you are only reacting to a deficiency that the food industry has created with its inferior products and you are trying to counteract it. Since we often no longer get the original vegetable diet with a high proportion of bitter substances in our daily lives, we have to supplement with bitter substances.
How do you perceive this development and how do you try to deal with it in your daily life?
Elisabeth: You are right, bitterness has been pretty much forgotten in our modern diet - almost everything is artificially sweetened or flavored. As a result, our sense of taste is often unaware of bitter tastes, which is a shame, because bitter substances have real power and can even be described as a superfood. Bitter substances stimulate the flow of saliva and the production of gastric acid, making our food much easier to digest.
Most recommendations for a healthy gut and digestive system revolve around a healthier lifestyle. In addition to a good work-life balance (stress reduction) and regular exercise in nature, diet plays a central role: A plant-based diet with freshly cooked, high-fiber vegetables, legumes, and organic whole grains is ideal.
However, such advice is often not very realistic, as many people lead very busy lives that do not always leave time to eat a balanced diet and cook fresh food all the time. Sometimes things have to be done quickly and convenience foods are often used. This is where high-quality premium food supplements such as those from NATURAVELLA can have a supporting effect.
As an additional tip from my personal experience, I recommend that you only allow yourself unfavorable foods on certain days, but then enjoy them to the fullest. For me it's coffee: I used to be a coffee junkie, but now I only drink it at breakfast on weekends. But then I really celebrate it, frothed up with a cinnamon topping and a beautifully set breakfast table. So I look forward to my coffee all week and enjoy it with all my senses in a whole new way.
Daniel: Another question about fiber: what role does it play in digestion and how important is it for our microbiome and gut health? Can you explain this relationship a little bit more?
Elisabeth: Dietary fiber is the fiber-rich component of plant foods that is essential for proper digestion. Fiber can be thought of as long chains (such as the fiber-rich strings in green beans or the outer layers of grains) that help food move through the intestines. They do this by swelling up in the stomach to get digestion going. They also make you feel full, which is another great benefit of fiber. As mentioned above, fiber is not found in animal products, which is why nutrition guides always stress the importance of including enough fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
Personally, I immediately notice that my digestion is not as "smooth" when I eat too many animal products and not enough vegetarian ones. Then I know it's time for an extra serving of fiber.
Our fiber product DamoVera is rich in organic fibers such as Indian psyllium husks and oat bran, and also contains selected organic spices and active bacterial cultures in an optimal, natural blend. DamoVera Intestinal Treatment forms a natural protective layer in the intestines and helps cleanse our digestive and elimination organs.
Daniel: Which brings us back to the topic we focus on most with the stuul® toilet stool: the daily bowel movement. While we physically facilitate defecation by squatting with the help of a toilet stool, you can also influence the defecation process through your diet.
What specific dietary tips do you have for people who want to have more regular and comfortable bowel movements?
Elisabeth: As mentioned above, we should make sure to get a lot of fiber from plant foods every day. They soften the stool and give it more volume than animal products ever could. Getting enough fiber from legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables will make your daily bowel movements a breeze. For those who are unable to eat a regular diet rich in fiber, high-quality dietary supplements such as our DamoVera colon cleanse are the best way to help. So much for the optimal preparation of the mash.
Now let's get to the real heart of colon cleansing - our daily bowel movements. My clear recommendation for a smooth bowel movement is the squat. But since we don't want a hole in the floor in our modern bathrooms, we want a nice toilet, your high-quality toilet stool is perfect for this. With the perfect angle for the legs, the stuul® toilet stool ensures that we no longer have to strain unnecessarily when going to the toilet and that we can cleanse our bowels quickly and gently.
The combination of a high fiber intake and a squatting position is a dream team for our intestinal health.
Daniel: Thank you for your positive feedback. I am very pleased that you like our design toilet stool so much and that you use it regularly!
One last question: What advice would you give to young people - or even older people - who want to dive deeper into herbal medicine and other natural healing methods? Where is the best place to start and what educational opportunities are available?
Elisabeth: As a trained educator myself, I prefer to recommend herbal education courses because they not only cover the knowledge of collecting and making herbal specialties, but also the know-how to conduct seminars and workshops on herbs and wild fruits. A herbal education course teaches you an incredible amount about native plants and herbs, growing seasons, healthy eating, and treating nature with respect. It opens up a new, exciting world right in your backyard!
Daniel: That sounds like a very good starting point and is certainly very interesting! For anyone who is interested in native, not yet industrially cultivated food and medicinal plants, there is a real opportunity here to take a professional path away from the mainstream. Of course, you can also join such a course out of pure interest.
In any case, thank you very much for the great interview. You have opened up new perspectives for me. Talk to you soon again!
MORE ABOUT OUR INTERVIEW PARTNER
Dr. Elisabeth Haider & NATURAVELLA