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The Idea That Was Staring Me in The Face

The Idea That Was Staring Me in The Face
10 June 2020 Stephanie Drax

The Business Idea That Was Staring Me in The Face

It started with my kids’ snotty noses. Wiping two noses twelve times a day – with patience AND sympathy – is tedious. We mums roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders, and often give up wiping altogether. And so: the snotty sleeve.

By chance, I met a nutritionist, Anna Moore, and asked her how to break the endless cycle of winter colds that cyclone through our house. Her answer? Better gut health. Her prescription: kefir. I bought some grains over the internet, steeped them in milk, and covertly slipped the soured results – billions of friendly bacteria – into my kids’ smoothies. They had NO idea. Result!

This was November 2017. I thought about kefir smoothies for kids as a business idea – something transportable in a pouch. Doing some research on how to commercialise kefir, while keeping the bacteria fresh and alive, lead me to chat to lots of clever scientists. One of them was Dr Nick Larkins. He’s an awesome, straight-talking Aussie, and immediately said words that still ring in my ears: “Kefir’s all well and good, Stephanie – but if you really want to stop a cold dead in its tracks, you want to try lactoferrin.”

Lactoferrin?? I scratched it down on my note pad. He went on, telling me it’s a fine pink powder extracted from cow’s milk that he’d been taking for 30 years at the first sign of a cold: “It sticks to the roof of your mouth like mad, but then you just forget about it and it dissolves. I haven’t had a cold in years.” So enthused by the results, Nick wrote a published scientific paper on its benefits. It sounded too good to be true, but a week later I was drawn back to that scrawled word. Lactoferrin.

I did some research and found thousands of published scientific papers on lactoferrin on PubMed – a respected platform of biomedical literature. Two key points grabbed my attention: lactoferrin is already within us – in our eyes, nose, mouth – working as our immune system’s first line of defence against germs. It’s also an important protein found in mother’s milk – “the first violinist” said Nick – and is a critical player in bolstering a newborn’s immune responses.

Having breastfed two kids within the two years prior to talking to Nick, I could appreciate the immune enhancing magic of mother’s milk. But what really fascinated me was that, unlike echinacea or elderberry, it was working inside my body already. Supplementing with lactoferrin from cow’s milk (which is very similar to human milk) would be science in tune with nature.

That word – lactoferrin – was staring at me for a week before I really saw it. I often think, what if I hadn’t been curious? Absentmindedly on a call, I’d scrawled the next chapter of my life. All I had to do was act on it. I called Nick and asked if I could try some for myself.