Adapting with Adaptogens: Natalia Botanicals is a line of Adaptogenic Elixirs with an ethos that’s close to our hearts – merging an ancient wisdom inspired by Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, with the science behind the modern hype. Natalia is an adaptogenic wizard, hand-blending natural herbs, roots, and mushrooms for a holistically healthy approach to combatting the stresses and strains of modern life.
Adaptogens consist of a variety of herbs and roots that are rooted in centuries old healing traditions, and have been experiencing a renaissance for their ability to help the body combat inflammation. Dr Brenda Powell, a co-medical director of the Centre for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute says that “adaptogens help your body handle stress”.
Powell says the plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body – from your mind, to your immune system, to your energy levels – functions as it should.
Integrative approaches to health are becoming increasingly important, especially within the remits of chronic lifestyle conditions with systemic effects. There is certainly no shortage of interesting research developing within the space, which further highlights the importance of food as medicine, the mind-body connection, and the effects of the modern, inflammatory lifestyle.
Could you tell us a little more about your background and how you came to found your beautiful brand?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, Ulcerative Colitis when I was 18 years old.
The symptoms vary from person to person, but I tend to experience joint pain, sickness, fatigue, severe stomach pain and having to run to the bathroom frequently. I worked with a nutritionist and tried every diet under the sun, but none of them truly got to the root. By day, I worked full-time in the head office of a luxury beauty retailer and by night I would spend over 4 hours daily researching other healing modalities, this truly became my side hustle without monetary gain.
Fast forward to 2017, I became chronically stressed and was suffering from daily panic attacks which affected my health condition and led to hospitalisation over a handful of times within 12 months. My dad and boyfriend (now fiancé) urged me to put my career on pause to truly focus on healing myself and having this validation felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I broke out with hives and blisters on my first day off and that is when it became apparent that everything going on inside was now manifesting on the outside. I tried every natural and pharmaceutical cream on my skin with little improvements so my Grandfather begged me to try these herbs and roots which we know as Adaptogens as I had “nothing to lose”. My dad enrolled me onto an integrative nutrition course to keep my mind busy whilst being at home, which turned out to be the best gift.
I learned all about adaptogens from my grandfather (his grandmother raised him on an Ayurvedic lifestyle and his grandfather was a sweet maker), healers and studied them intently. I created my first blend, Eternal Optimist combining uplifting, energising and anti-fungal ingredients from Ayurvedic principles and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). I could not believe my skin had healed within 4-5 weeks of daily use and my mood was better than ever before.
I started playing around with other blends which I created for a group of mums in my local area and added them to homemade gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free snacks which they would enjoy with their families. They re-ordered multiple times, and sent their friends and family members to me, who frequently gave me the best reviews from all parts of the world. My customer base had grown to over 30 women in 3 months – all without a website, a label (I was handwriting ingredients onto a jar!) or pretty packaging. I knew I was onto something and took the plunge to create a basic website, start designing my labels and source my packaging.
How have adaptogens helped you?
Adaptogens have helped me on a much deeper level than any other healing modality I have ever tried. I am continuously fascinated by how such simple ingredients from nature can have such a huge impact on our health, whether it’s balancing our hormones, improving mental clarity, lifting our mood. I love that adaptogens are non-toxic and they adapt to what your body needs in a particular time, hence the name. They have been a great addition to my other healing tools and as much as I love a massage or reflexology, adaptogens increase adaptability to stress and bring homeostasis at cellular level.
What others tools and lifestyle changes have you found both have, and have not worked for you in your holistic health journey?
I have tried and tested so many different tools on my health journey over the past 14 years. I really love my infrared sauna blanket which is infused with amethyst and black tourmaline and it truly grounds me. I use it daily for 45 minutes after my workouts and it’s great for lowering inflammation and sweating the day off. I also really love colonics a few times a year, lymphatic drainage massage and energy healing as my spiritual reset.
These have all helped me get rid of stagnant energy which accumulates over the years, most of which we don’t even realise. When energy is stuck, we usually feel stuck because the energy is unable to circulate. If we don’t clean and restore our emotional and energetic state, we run the risk of trapping pain in areas of the body that can manifest as emotional and physical stress.
I have tried several diets which have not worked and at the time I remember feeling so disheartened. Some would trigger my allergies, some would cause severe bloating and some would deplete my energy. I would rely heavily on plant-based sources of protein and did not realise I was very intolerant to beans, lentils and legumes so I was causing unnecessary inflammation to my body. Now that I am in my early 30s, I have come to learn the power of intuitive eating, intermittent fasting and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. We are not all made the same and it can take time to figure out what works best for us, but once you begin listening to your body’s signals, it makes life a lot easier.
Did you fundraise for your business?
I didn’t fundraise for my business, I used my savings to pay for everything I needed to get the business up and running. From website designs, packaging designs, packaging, ingredients, lawyers, accountants. Luckily, I was able to save on overhead costs by working from home.
What difficulties have you faced and how did you get around them?
The biggest challenge I faced was starting. I am an ambivert. I love socialising and over-sharing but I can also be quite reserved and happy to blend in with the crowd, so putting myself out there on social media felt very daunting, especially when you create something tangible and put your name on it. I am very thankful to my hypnotherapist who I had a few sessions with before launching Natalia Botanicals. She helped me navigate my fears and turn it into drive. It definitely took a while to truly feel free and unapologetic, which I think came from receiving feedback from so many people and having loyal customers across the world. My fears seem so minuscule compared to how much of an impact my elixirs have on people’s lives.
What’s the smallest change that’s given the biggest return?
I once spoke to a marketing expert who advised me to change the aesthetic of my Instagram and my brand to be beautifully curated and minimalistic with hues of whites and grey tones. I tried it for a couple of days, but honestly felt burnt out because I was suppressing my personality and it felt so forced. Once I switched back to posting on Instagram as and when I felt inspired, speaking about things which light me up, using lots of colours, my community began to grow and become more engaged. You will never lose by being yourself.
What motivates you?
Honestly, the biggest motivation for me is being able to do what I love and feeling fulfilled by my work. I look forward to waking up and being productive.
Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?
I turn to my fiancé about all legal and financial advice as he runs his own business and is an ex-lawyer (very helpful!), whilst I ask my sister for her opinion related to design, but I generally follow my own gut and lead with intuition. When I was creating the names of my elixirs, my fiancé was turned off by ‘Goal Digger’ the elixir for cognitive function but I decided to follow my gut feeling, use my own eye for design and go for it anyway. 3 years later, Goal Digger is still the conversation starter!
If you did not have your own company, what would you be doing?
I absolutely love everything about sound healing and recognise how deeply each sound and frequency we pick up on affects us, so maybe I would be a sound healer. I believe in doing exactly what lights you up, even if it’s training in something outside of your profession.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I would say my strengths are my natural ability to connect with people and build relationships easily. This has only become my strength in the past few years when I truly felt I understood myself and could completely be myself around anybody. Having Ulcerative Colitis has taught me to be comfortable being alone and I actually really enjoy my own company. I’m also very decisive and know when something is a straight up ‘no’ and when something excites me. My weakness is definitely my messiness, which I like to put down to being a free spirit!
How has what you do changed you as a person?
Running a business from the ground up has allowed me to use my business experience and creativity in ways I would never get to if I was still working in the corporate world. I grew up in quite a disciplined household which has definitely helped me to remain goal-oriented and focused, but now I get to blend that with something that fills me with excitement.
If time and money were no object – what would be on your to do and to see list?
I love the idea of moving around and exploring, but I know it wouldn’t suit my routine-y personality, so a few months spent in different locations would be blissful. I would love to spend more time in Bali, where I was proposed to. We loved cycling through the villages, there was something so magical and grounding about the surroundings.