Welcome, Ancestral Supplements!
The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed a new brand hitting our store a few months ago. Unfortunately, no sooner had it arrived than it was gone again, meaning we never got to give it the welcome it deserved. I’m delighted to announce that it is back and this time we hope it is here to stay! I’m talking, of course, about Ancestral Supplements, which come to us all the way from Texas. In this post, I want to tell you a bit about the brand and explain why it disappeared!
Ancestral Supplements manufactures a range of grass-fed, freeze-dried beef glandular products. Throughout human history, until the very recent past, cultures which ate meat routinely consumed almost the whole animal. I know there are a lot of different diets around nowadays, each with no shortage of devotees to tell you why theirs is the best. My own belief is that a person’s ideal diet depends on their heritage. A few hundred years ago, whether or not you ate lots of meat, lots of fish, or mainly plant material would depend on whether you lived somewhere with lots of animals, somewhere near the sea, or somewhere with diverse vegetation. Inuit people, for example, would not have eaten salad. People living hundreds of miles from the coast would not have had ready access to seafood. People living in areas with an easy supply of game wouldn’t have journeyed for miles to find some exotic veg to serve with it. I believe that the correct diet for you is the one that brings you good health and allows you to thrive, which might look different from the one that brings your modern day neighbour good health and allows them to thrive.
With that being said, most cultures throughout history did eat meat whenever they could get it and, because it was not easy to get, nothing was wasted. My own great-grandad, a pig farmer, used to regularly eat tripe, brawn and trotters – things which most modern consumers, myself included, refuse to contemplate. As a child, I stopped eating oxtail soup when I realised ‘oxtail’ was a literal reference to the ingredients and not just a funny name! I similarly went off my favourite steak and kidney pie upon discovering it was made out of real kidneys. Black pudding was touch and go for a few years when I found out it contains pigs’ blood, although my fondness for a full English breakfast won out in the end.
Like most people in the modern western world, I am squeamish and unadventurous with my meat choices. Ideally, I like meat and fish to arrive at my home in clinical plastic packaging and to bear no resemblance to their living form. I am not alone – the practice of nose to tail eating has all but died out in modern society. Let’s be honest, if most of us found out that a colleague routinely boiled up the head of a pig to eat, we’d probably mark them down as a bit new-age and weird. What a contrast to Victorian times when soused pig’s face was considered a delicacy!
Unfortunately, the bits of animals that we no longer like to eat are very nutritious, meaning recent generations have really missed out on the goodness provided by livers, hearts, brains, eyes, intestines, bone marrow and other organs. That’s where Ancestral Supplements come in. They produce a range of capsules, made from freeze-dried organs – mostly from cows, though a couple of their products contain sheep or fish. The freeze-drying process preserves heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals and enzymes and then the organs are blended into a fine powder ready for encapsulation. This allows modern consumers to get the nutritional benefits of organs and glands in a user-friendly form. The majority of the capsules are absolutely free from fillers, binders and anti-caking agents. The only exception is the Grass Fed Bone and Marrow Capsules which contain a little rice flour and silica to allow encapsulation (some ingredients are impossible to encapsulate if they contain no flow agents as they have the wrong texture and block up the machines).
All of the cattle and sheep used in Ancestral Supplements’ products are pasture raised in New Zealand, a country famous for its excellent animal husbandry and with no history of BSE. New Zealand’s climate produces fresh, nutritious grass all year round, so the animals are able to live outdoors, eating at pasture the way nature intended. They are raised without the use of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics on small family ranches. Both the ranchers and Ancestral are committed to respecting the natural world and treating animals with compassion and respect. They don’t over-harvest and take only what they need, producing small batch runs of no more than 5,000 bottles at a time. This is less economical, but allows for happier, healthier animals and fresher, higher quality supplements. Brian Johnson, one of the owners of Ancestral Supplements, is very adamant that animal welfare and quality must come before profit. He is also committed to making sure that everyone in the supply chain receives a fair wage for their work.
Let me tell you a bit about Brian. He has a degree in biochemistry and is a primal blueprint certified health coach. His wife is a biological dentist and there are also two functional doctors at the organisation. Like Desert Harvest and Sweet Cures, Ancestral Supplements came about through necessity. Brian’s own children suffered with allergies and did not enjoy the best health when they were very young. Multiple doctors failed to help. Brian read ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ by Weston Price and switched his family over to organic, nose to tail eating, along with organic fruits and vegetables. His passion for traditional eating and living grew, along with his knowledge, and eventually Ancestral Supplements was born. Brian and his whole family practise what they preach, incorporating plenty of fats, organ meats and green leaves into their diet. They each take Ancestral Supplements Beef Liver, Beef Organs and Bone and Marrow daily. I always think you can tell when the founder of an organisation has personal experiences that drove them to produce whatever it is they are making. The empathy they have for their customers and the commitment they have to quality seems to shine through in all that they do.
In this post, I’m not even going to attempt to cover the nutritional profile of the various Ancestral Supplements products. It would make the post extremely long and I cannot possibly do it justice the way Brian does over on his site. What I will say is that traditional people throughout history believed that eating a particular organ provided nourishment for the corresponding human organ; for example, eating heart would strengthen the heart, eating liver would nourish the liver, and so on. The work of Weston Price found that indigenous tribal people in the modern world enjoyed excellent health, free from the types of chronic ailments that afflict us here the western world. He found no culture that practised veganism and he found that organs were widely consumed. Interestingly, many cultures carefully planned nutrition before conception, allowing extra rations of animal products to a couple so that they might have a strong and healthy baby.
Wild animals instinctively eat organs and bone marrow first, leaving the muscle meats for later or for other animals. We had a cat that was a particularly enthusiastic hunter, in spite of being very well fed. A few times I had the displeasure of seeing him eat a freshly caught rabbit and he would always eat the entrails first. I never observed too closely, but they were obviously innards rather than anything fleshy or muscular. A common gripe of farmers whose chickens are the victims of a fox attack is that the fox kills several birds, but only takes away one or two. This is because the fox knows that the brain is especially nutritious, so he bites the heads off as many birds as possible. When he is done, he carries away what meat he can for later, leaving the unfortunate farmer to discover several headless leftovers. Brian tells me that in nature, birds will carry bones into the air and will drop them, hoping to smash them so that they can access the nutritious marrow inside. In other words, carnivorous animals seem to know the importance of eating organs, as did our ancestors.
The Ancestral Supplement’s website is much more than just a shop. It is a veritable treasure trove of information about traditional eating and traditional living. Obviously Ancestral Supplements products are discussed extensively, but Brian is also a huge advocate of honouring the body’s natural rhythms around sleep, sun exposure and movement. He shares his knowledge freely on his website, giving visitors plenty of ideas about how they can improve their health beyond just, “Buy my products.” I like to think that is how you will find the Tiny Pioneer site – not just a shop, but also a place where you can access free information that might help you. It’s one of the reasons I’m so pleased to have Ancestral Supplements products in our store. Rather than attempt to recreate Brian’s work here, I would encourage you to visit the Ancestral Supplements website and learn straight from the master!
I discovered Ancestral Supplements quite by chance, when visiting a blog that has absolutely nothing to do with health. On it, the author mentioned her positive experience of taking beef liver capsules and my subsequent research led me to Ancestral. At the time I had no thought of stocking their wares – I simply wanted to try some for myself. However, I was so impressed by the reviews I read about their products and by their ethos as a business that I quickly began to Google things like ‘beef liver interstitial cystitis’ and ‘Ancestral Supplements interstitial cystitis’! As it happens, none of Ancestral Supplements products have reviews specifically about interstitial cystitis and Brian advises that none of his products particularly target the condition. However, you’ll know that I believe IC to go hand in hand with gut problems for a lot of people and also with hormonal changes in many cases – so many of you tell me that you were okay until pregnancy or menopause. Some of the Ancestral Supplements products lend themselves well to gut healing (the Bone and Marrow and the Collagen, for example) while others, such as the Beef Organs and the Beef Liver might help to restore hormone balance. The Bone Marrow and the Collagen are good sources of glycosaminoglycans, which may help to repair damage to the GAG layer of the bladder, while Collagen is also a source of chondroitin, which is one of the most prevalent components of the GAG layer.
In the end, I was so excited at the prospect of bringing Ancestral Supplements to Tiny Pioneer that I couldn’t wait. I had thought maybe I’d use the products myself for a couple of months and then ask about stocking them if I liked them, but I was just too impressed by the company, by Brian’s work, and by all of the excellent reviews to wait that long! I was very pleased when we received our first shipment of Beef Liver, Beef Organs and Bone Marrow (the products that Brian recommends are a good fit for most people) and I was delighted that they seemed popular right away.
Unfortunately, a few orders into our relationship with Ancestral, I got a call from the courier asking us to confirm the ingredients for each of the products in our shipment. To cut a long story short, the package was denied access to the country on the basis that it contained ingredients of animal origin. It transpired that our previous orders should not have been allowed into the country either, but had ‘slipped through the net’. Quite how it had been allowed to happen several times nobody could say, but the gist was that it shouldn’t have done and the products could not be brought into the UK again without a licence.
To cut an even longer story short, after many phone calls, emails and application forms from both our end and America (many of which turned out to be dead ends, I might add!) the correct licence seems to have been successfully procured and we are now able to welcome Ancestral Supplements back to our store! I’m extremely relieved about this, not only because they were proving popular, but because I want to keep using them myself! They are available from a Dutch store called Ergomax, so thankfully I would still have been able to get them, but there is nothing quite like having them right here! (I thought I’d let you know about Ergomax in case we’re ever out of stock of anything – they’re a great store and dispatch things promptly.)
It’s now a little over three months since I first started taking the Beef Liver and I do feel that my menstrual cycle has become easier. My insomnia, although still worse than I’d like, does seem to have made another improvement too. The last significant improvement in that regard came after my Cambridge Nutritional Science FoodPrint 200+ test. I’ve been taking Collagen alongside the Beef Liver since the beginning of August, mainly for extra gut healing, but also for vanity because it might be good for skin elasticity!
I’m delighted to have Ancestral Supplements in the Tiny Pioneer store and I’m extremely grateful to Ancestral for working so hard with our import agencies to get these products into the UK. I hope they will be a valuable resource to people with all sorts of chronic health issues and I look forward to hearing people’s experiences with them over the coming months!
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