Brands We Love: The Feel Good Lab
The Feel Good Lab was started because there weren’t any over-the-counter pain relievers that the founders personally wanted to use or would ever recommend. For arthritis sufferers, athletes, and everyone in-between, getting extra relief used to require compromising your overall health with pills like ibuprofen or smelly pain creams that contain toxic fillers and preservatives.
So, they fixed all that. Their products were developed by an expert pharmacist using only clean ingredients. They deliver all that real(ly) good stuff through the skin directly to where it’s needed—the areas in pain, not your digestive system. This means relief with virtually no nasty side effects, or as they call it, Relief Without Compromise.
The brains behind the operation? Gene Gresh. With many accolades to follow hiw name, including, R.Ph., FIACP, IFMCP, The Feel Good Lab's Chief Pharmacist has been practicing for the last 37+ years, specializing in the treatment of pain using transdermal therapy. He’s the founder of the first-ever combined compounding pharmacy and functional medicine practice in the U.S. As an expert of pain, Gene would often be asked, “What over-the-counter products do you recommend?” Fed up with saying, “None,” he decided to create one. And that’s how this all began.
What do you want people to know about The Feel Good Lab?
The products coming out of The Feel Good Lab are vetted in a functional medicine philosophy- remove the bad, provide the beneficial. In medicine, all doctors and pharmacists take an oath stating “First do no harm” and so our focus is on removing ingredients that we now can identify as potentially unhealthy and only providing ingredients that are healthy.
What initiated your interest in this field of work? What do you specialize in?
I got involved in pharmacy because my dad was a pharmacist. He was my hero and I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could, but he wasn't home much because he owned his own pharmacy. When I learned that he went to work to make medicine to help people be healthy, I made my mind up then that this is what I had wanted to do with my life. When I achieved that, the practice of pharmacy started to shift with the introduction of big insurance companies. Most of the medicines we were dispensing at that time were at best managing symptoms, and almost always creating other problems. I started seeing the limitations on what I thought I was doing compared to what I was actually doing. That opened my mind up to pharmaceutical compounding which in turn led me to the discovery of functional medicine.
What is Functional Medicine and why is it important to you?
Functional medicine is identifying and removing the harmful that we are introducing to the body and identifying and providing the benefits. In conventional medicine, you go to the doctor and they collect your data and symptoms in order to form a diagnosis. From there you are given a treatment plan, usually either a procedure or a drug, that is designed to treat those symptoms. In functional medicine, we evaluate and meet with the patient in order to gather a lot more data than in conventional medicine. In conventional medicine, a doctor visit might take about 10-15 minutes, including only a few minutes with the actual doctor. Whereas, in functional medicine, the initial visit might be 2 hours where we are trying to gather as much information as possible related to the cause of the problem versus just identifying the diagnosis and creating a drug for the treatment. Functional medicine is identifying the cause of the problem and intervening at that level. In functional medicine we use very sophisticated testing, we use a lot of patient information, and we now have the ability to use genetics and genomics in culmination with the most current science. When we take this approach we are reversing many of the chronic degenerative conditions that we were only previously managing on the conventional side. We need to use the same strategies we have to reverse in order to prevent.
Can you explain what Pharmaceutical Compounding is?
Every pharmacy student needs to take a class on compounding pharmacy, however, the education is at such a surface level. In 1996, I attended my first conference on compounding after practicing conventional pharmacy for the majority of my early career. At the time pharmacy had changed. The insurance companies started taking over the industry around this time and the focus shifted from patient care to monetary incentives. My impression at the time was that we basically started working for the insurance companies and that is not what I wanted to do, I wanted to help patients. To me it became unethical. I learned that compounding opened up a world of options where we could actually customize medicine based on the unique needs of the individual patient. We have specialized equipment allowing us to make individual doses or batches of unique formulations working with medical practitioners and patients in a personalized way to help deliver medication to the individual. The opposite of that is the ‘one size fits all’ approach which is the pharmaceutical industry. We do things that the pharmaceutical industry can’t do or doesn’t want to do. Compounding is personalized medicine still within the medical model. In my opinion, there are a lot of unique needs that fall through the cracks in our conventional model and we help those patients. In correlation with our growing knowledge of genetics, this need to customize doses will only increase the need for compounding in the future.
What is transdermal therapy and why did you choose this method of delivery for The Feel Good Lab products?
The skin is not as big of a barrier as we think. Ingestible painkillers have been proven to cause severe, unnecessary stress on our gut health. Also, it is unknown how much will actually be absorbed when ingested. Transdermal therapy allows us to bypass the digestive tract and avoid the stress on our gut. It is also important to understand the difference between topical and transdermal. Topical creams are designed to impact the skin layer, whereas transdermal formulas are designed to penetrate deep into the tissue. Going deeper into the tissue allows the beneficial ingredients to get to the site we actually want them to get to.
How did you pick the ingredient profile for The Feel Good Lab products?
Myself and a master herbalist, Becky, came up with the formula. Becky’s father was actually my mentor in compounding pharmacy. I had a friend come to me concerned about his son who was playing competitive baseball at the time. He was concerned that the kids were not icing their arms and not properly caring for their bodies after rigorous play. My expertise at the time was using pharmaceuticals, but when posed with this issue the first thing we had to focus on was making it safe for children. From a functional medicine mindset I thought, what would we want to include in a formulation designed to decrease inflammation locally? So I immediately thought of Becky, who is a specialist in botanicals/ herbs. We collaborated and every single ingredient was vetted by questioning - is it something we would want to introduce to the body? Remove the bad and only provide the good. With herbs and nutrients, the synergistic effect helps to attack the complexities of inflammation through various mechanisms. Therefore we researched natural substances that have been studied for thousands of years taken orally but now asking the question of how can we get them in a form to deliver them through the skin to get the benefits we are looking for. Luckily, owning a compounding lab allowed us the resources to test and retest time after time in an efficient manner. It was a process that took many different prototypes and over the years took many different forms before finding what is now The Feel Good Lab’s Natural Pain Cream.
What kind of patients do you generally work with within your practice/lab and what services do you offer?
There are so many tools we can use to help people. Our food inflammation test is a great example. This is much more precise than a food sensitivity test. You can have a food sensitivity that does not, in turn, cause an inflammatory response. The food inflammation test we use measures the actual binding of the complement protein to the complex. This binding is the cause of a heightened inflammatory response. This is very different from a food allergy or sensitivity. Inflammation drives almost every chronic condition (including pain). In the body, a lot of factors determine where you will see symptoms. The higher the inflammation, the more symptoms one might see. The areas of the body that have a weakness, like nutritional deficiencies, will be more prone to acute inflammation. There might be inflammation in the joints, in organs themselves, or even neuro-inflammation which we are now learning is a major driver of neurological conditions like MS, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, etc. It is scary because people are now reacting negatively to healthy foods. I have tested this in more than one hundred patients and virtually 100% of results come back with some food that is driving inflammation in that individual. Every condition has the potential to improve by decreasing your inflammatory burden. Understanding the relationship between food and chronic pain in vital. It is important to spread the word and the success we have had with patients suffering from chronic pain. Every factor we can identify and change is going to help improve the outcome, it is never just one thing.
What additional protocols would you recommend in order to control pain/ enhance recovery?
I often recommend supplements such as magnesium, fish oil, and curcumin for those who are in chronic pain. It is imperative to make sure you are getting your supplements from a good source. It is also important to understand what works for you as an individual.
Firstly, magnesium comes in many different forms (oxide, sulphate, glycinate, threonate, chloride, etc). The different type makes a big difference on absorption and what it will help with when introduced to the body. There was a study done years ago in Canada in which they looked at the general population and they assessed for magnesium status. Their results stated that 84% of the general population was deficient in magnesium. My hypothesis is that many of us are deficient in magnesium and most of us who have any disease or condition are deficient in magnesium. Studies have shown that people in chronic pain burn through magnesium and so they are almost automatically deficient. Therefore, our chance of recovering gets less and less because we are not supplying the body with the vital nutrients it needs. The delivery method is also very important.
For delivery through the skin, I prefer magnesium sulphate and magnesium chloride. Magnesium sulphate is what you get in Epsom salts. With regard to structural repair in the body, sulphate is vitally important. This is why I like that The Feel Good Lab chose magnesium sulphate, essentially giving people double the bang for their buck. Magnesium chloride has shown to be very efficient in penetrating the skin. We also now have studies to show that magnesium threonate gets magnesium into the brain more than other types.
For sleep, I recommend magnesium glycinate because glycinate is a very calming amino acid. In functional medicine we understand each patient’s needs and utilize the science we have to make the proper recommendation on which form could be most beneficial.
With regard to fish oil, we know that one of the many mechanisms that drive inflammation in the body is unbalanced prostaglandins. We make prostaglandins in our body as part of our physiology from fats. We make pro-inflammatory and we make anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Fish oil helps us improve our anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. We want our body to be able to make inflammation when it is necessary but not uncontrolled. So one of the mechanisms with fish oil is that it encourages that prostaglandin balance which equates to balanced inflammation health.
And lastly, I mentioned curcumin. Curcumin is the most widely studied natural anti-inflammatory in the world. The vast majority of people respond well to curcumin and many people have seen it help dramatically drive down inflammation. However, there is no one size fits all so the food inflammation test becomes important once again to best understand your personal circumstances. Generally, curcumin is great because it covers multiple mechanisms that drive inflammation.
Where can people find you/ connect with you?
If anyone is interested in learning more about these topics feel free to reach out directly. We answer all inquiries through our business email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also reach out directly to my lab, Pioneer Health Compounding Pharmacy in Vernon, CT. My goals is to help as many people as possible. We provide services to the public and work with patients of all types. If interested in a food inflammation test or any other inquiries please reach out.