We hear from Ora Health’s Founder and CEO Gabriel Perera to find out how each of us can build a deeper understanding of wellness.
Let’s start at the beginning, tell us about the origin story of Ora Health. How did you come to be champions of natural wellness and herbal medicinal practices?
I personally have had almost 20 years of experience working with some of the best natural product brands in the world, including 10 years as a senior executive at Blackmores. But the seed for Ora was really only planted a few years ago when I started questioning my own natural product choices. For instance, I’m by no means a vegan but I started a journey with my consumption and was asking, can I be more ecologically conscious about my purchases? What if I try out more plant-based meals each week? How can I take better supplements, that deliver real benefits, but take less of them?
As we created Ora, we tried to answer as many of these questions as possible. We wanted to give people access to supplements that were truly clean, organic, 100% plant-based and sustainably sourced. We wanted to give people better visibility and transparency of where their products and the ingredients in them come from and how they are made.
Ora draws upon the intelligence of nature to underpin a natural and potent approach to wellness. What are the first principles that Ora’s vision is centred upon?
The vision we have for Ora is to create agency for people, to help them make decisions about their health that relate to their specific circumstances – circumstances which change and evolve as we age, as our hormones change, as we change countries, or as our stress levels change. We want to enable people to make better decisions about their health. This is the foundational principle of what we’re all about.
We do this by focusing first on education. Well, of course initially about our products, but then closely followed up with helping people understand the application of modern naturopathic principles to our formulations.
In Ora, we have this idea of co-creation of wellness, where we think of ourselves as one part of a person’s “eco-sphere of health”. We aim to provide a strong support system for consumers, not just with effective products, but in a holistic way that includes information, education and access to experts and health practitioners so they can create the best health regimen for themselves.
You’ve placed a lot of emphasis on palatability and taste to help us continue taking supplements and experience the benefits of natural products. Why is this so important?
I know I’m not the norm. I can take swallow a handful of capsules at a go, and I can drink the most foul-tasting supplements if I have to. But I know that’s not everyone. Unless there’s a very serious medical condition, most people usually won’t take anything that tastes terrible.
But here’s the thing – natural products take time to work. With a few exceptions, they’re not quick fixes. It takes maybe two weeks, three weeks even, to start seeing the benefits of any natural supplement or medicinal herb. And if it doesn’t taste good enough for people to stay the course and take it consistently, they’re never going to receive the benefits of what they spent their money on.
So that’s why we made sure that everything we created in Ora is either really easy to take or surprisingly delicious – or both! A good friend of mine is an incredibly talented food scientist, and we work with him to make our products taste as palatable as possible – to a normal person’s taste buds.
For example, our Hormonal Balance, which is a hot favourite, especially with women, tastes like a chocolate shake, and Profound Sleep tastes like vanilla and berry, a little bit like Ribena that we used to drink growing up. It really is pretty cool what we’ve managed to do, given we add no sugar or artificial flavours in our formulations.
We’re big fans of the Hormonal Balance’s chocolate flavour over here! Okay so we know they taste good, and they’re doing good for us. Now, tell us about how Ora’s products can improve our wellness and what’s your favourite product right now?
I know we sell supplements, but I always remind people that supplements are just one aspect of our health and wellness journey. I believe that when it comes to health, lifestyle always comes first. Sleep, nutrition, stress management, and exercise – these are the things that set the foundation for your health.
But the stark reality is we aren’t always able to do these things perfectly, or in the way that we want to do, given time constraints and the pressures of the modern world. Some days I’m completely smashed at the end of a workday and just have no energy left but to order something on Deliveroo, I know that if I take a dose of Organic Greens Superpowder+ for example, I’m at least getting the vitamins and nutrients my body needs.
There are also particular times in our lives when that foundation is not enough. We might be trying our best on the fronts of stress management or sleep, but perhaps we’re not getting enough magnesium or vitamin C or nutrients we need from our diets, and we end up consistently falling sick. Or maybe it’s coming into cold and flu season (as it is now) and we know it just makes sense to take a high quality supplement to increase our vitamin D intake and to support our immune systems.
If I really had to choose a favourite product, I’d say Immune Tonic + Advanced, which we just launched. It’s just an incredibly powerful formulation, with organic tonic herbs like Astragalus and Siberian ginseng with Schisandra, as well as ingredients like Quercetin, Zinc and Vitamin D3 that have seen lots of new research especially in the last two years. All the herbs are organic, and the formulation itself is 100% vegan.
Finally, how we can take care of our nervous systems in these uncertain times?
Anything that can promote the activation of the vagus nerve, including things like meditation, breathwork, and time with friends family and loved ones are vitally important. Doing our very best to avoid overstimulation. Seeking to impose limits on amount of time spent exposed to social media and news. One practice I found particularly useful is a media fast — a break from all forms of media including Instagram. During height of pandemic, to try and stay positive, I stopped consuming mainstream media altogether and would only do things like reading Dumbo Feather and other more positive and balanced content.
And of course there’s the role of supplements when the nervous system is under stress. Magnesium and adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Reishi, and Cordyceps can provide profound support during times of particular stress.