This article first appeared on Noozhawk.com on February 17, 2015 and is reprinted with permission.
Santa Barbara-based ProHealth, a nutritional supplement company dedicated to helping fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
“I started this company 25 years ago with one purpose: to help people who suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome,” said Rich Carson, founder of ProHealth, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1981. “We want our customers and followers to be encouraged, receive trustworthy advice and know they are not alone.
“My personal philosophy about healthcare is that our illness doesn’t define us, we define it.”
Fibromyalgia patients suffer from long-term, body-wide musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep problems, headaches and anxiety; and chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the most debilitating diseases tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ProHealth sells nutritional supplements and vitamins to help people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome live fuller lives. Through its website, blog and Facebook page, the company also gives lifestyle, diet, physical movement and nutritional supplement advice and encouragement. While these don’t cure the disease, they empower patients’ bodies to deal with the disease naturally, Carson said.
Carson has been the leading patient fundraiser for ME/CFS in the United States for close to a decade, was chosen to represent the CDC in its $4 million chronic fatigue syndrome awareness campaign and was named patient advocate of the year by the Whitmore Peterson Institute.
Since starting the business, Carson has made giving a priority. ProHealth donates 10 percent of its proceeds to various causes within the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome community, including research and client advocacy. ProHealth has donated close to $4 million, to date.
In addition, ProHealth takes time to recognize leading patients and advocates each year. Last year, the company honored Jennifer Brea, a doctoral student in the Department of Government at Harvard University on indefinite medical leave for myalgic encephalomyelitis, as Patient of the Year. Even though Brea had to give up her doctoral studies and her career when she became sick, she is passionately working to bring awareness to this disease through a documentary, tentatively titled “Canary in a Coal Mine.”