Issue No. 272: Second Opinion

This issue is presented by

proactive care plan for health, longevity, and performance.

Consumers are exploring alternative medicine.

Systems Down

Americans aren’t well, and the healthcare system isn’t helping.

  • Eight chronic conditions hit all-time highs in 2023.
  • Up to 2.5M Americans suffer from complex illness and fatigue.
  • New chronic diseases add $101.5B to our nation’s annual healthcare bill.

Despite their prevalence, chronic symptoms remain difficult to treat, with autoimmune issues in particular taking roughly four years and five doctors to diagnose.

Sent in circles, patients spend thousands on tests, specialists, and prescriptions, to no avail.

Looking East

At a loss, many are turning to alternative treatments.

Promoting mind-body connection, alternative medicine treats the “whole person.” Globally, it’s a $518B+ market, with more of the world using alternative medicine than Western.

In the US, scientific skepticism has kept it separate from healthcare. But, coinciding with the rise of holistic health, it’s gaining traction.

  • The number of osteopaths (DOs) in the US increased by 30%+ in the past five years.
  • 37% of Americans complement primary care with practices like acupuncture, naturopathy, and massage.
  • 71% pay for alternative therapies out-of-pocket.

For cases that aren’t acute, noninvasive nervous system therapies—from sound baths to cupping—are proving anecdotally effective, fueling requests for more.

Crossover Care

Heeding patient demand, over 42% of hospitals have added alternative medicine, including those associated with Duke, Harvard, Yale, and UCSF.

As a complement to Western methods, acupuncture, meditation, and even reiki are being tested for complex cases, while government-funded research is ramping up.

At the same time, tech-driven companies like Parsley Health, WellTheory, and Gritwell are scaling integrated care — leveraging DTC tests and lifestyle medicine to unwind root causes.

Expansion packs. Wanting extra insurance, 63% of consumers believe wellness spending can cut long-term healthcare costs.

Adapting their pitch, recovery centers market sauna, cold plunge, IV drips, NAD+ shots, float pods, and red light therapy as holistic remedies.

Unbundling the retreat, Canyon Ranch added $150M to scale member clubs and day spas with Ayurvedic massage, reflexology, and more.

Modernizing TCM, WTHN just raised $5M for acupuncture clinics, Apothékary gained backing for its healing tinctures, and Elix’s herbal blends are clinically proven to ease PMS.

Training zen, Open debuted breathwork, fitness, and meditation classes in LA, while WellSet offers online courses extending to gua sha and acupressure.

Alt sports med. A leading cause of disability, musculoskeletal conditions drive 70M doctor visits per year — but shilling opioids isn’t a solution.

Validating bodywork, mounting research suggests chronic muscle and joint pain can be myofascial at its root.

Upgrading physical therapy, Sports Rehab LA helps athletes ease tension with dry needling, electrical stimulation, Aquaroll therapy, and more — while Myodetox pairs massage with corrective exercise.

Punchline: Placebo or not, people are sold on alternative medicine. As personal anecdotes pile up, research will follow, feeding a flywheel of east-meets-west consumer services.

🎙 On the Podcast

Phil Levin, Founder & CEO of LiveNearFriends on The Fitt Insider Podcast

Founder and CEO of LiveNearFriends Phil Levin discusses healthy neighborhood design.

After starting a coliving compound in Oakland, Phil saw the impact of community on well-being firsthand. Encouraging others to follow suit, he launched LiveNearFriends, a social real estate platform helping users find homes near each other.

We also cover: Blue Zones, country clubs, and the impact of walkability on wellness.

Listen to today’s episode here.

🍼 Next-gen supplement startups support new parents

Organic baby formula brand Bobbie is expanding into infant supplements, starting with Vitamin D and probiotics.

Scaling up. The news follows a $70M Series C raise last year and a $100M commitment to improving infant nutrition access via its R&D arm, Bobbie Labs.

Prepping parents. Beyond baby food, perinatal nutrition needs an overhaul.

Prenatal vitamins reduce risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects, but quality varies. While 77% of expecting moms take supplements, many still get too little or too much of the wrong nutrients.

Newborn. Created by and for moms, emerging startups are turning personal experience into VC-backed businesses.

  • OB/GYN-founded Perelel just raised $6M for its reproductive health vitamins.
  • Fertility care and diagnostics company Bird&Be added PCOS supplements this month.
  • Last November, Needed scored $14M for its nutritional system spanning fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum.

Developing products for specific hormonal stages, they’re working to deliver the right nutrients, in the right amount, at the right time.

Punchline: Leading with authenticity, startups are solving the hidden struggles of motherhood, and disrupting legacy brands in the process.

Presented by Lifeforce

💪 Take Control of Your Health

Traditional healthcare doesn’t promote well-being; it treats illness.

But proactive options are hard to come by.

Enter: Lifeforce.

Designed for those who refuse to settle, Lifeforce helps you maintain your personal best for life.

Membership includes regular biomarker testing, functional medicine support, 1:1 health coaching, access to hormones and peptides, and more — all personalized to your biology and goals.

Ready to level up? Measure your baseline with an at-home diagnostics kit.

💧 Apple eyes hydration tracking with new patent

The tech giant was awarded a broad patent for a “wearable device with perspiration measuring capabilities” — greenlighting noninvasive hydration tracking for Apple Watch.

New drip. Consumers are hydration-obsessed, and microfluidic sensors are personalizing refueling:

  • Targeting endurance athletes, Nix and FLOWBIO measure real-time electrolyte loss through noninvasive skin patches.
  • Sweat patch makers WearOptimo and Epicore take on workers’ heat stress, with the latter recently landing investment to enter Asia.
  • Refining the process, hDrop launched a reusable, clip-on sweat monitor.

Drop in the bucket. Apple’s hydration feature could be yet another threat to standalone sensors.

The wearable maker is also zeroing in on noninvasive glucose monitoring while readying blood pressure and sleep apnea monitoring.

But, an ongoing legal battle with device maker Masimo proves that Apple isn’t untouchable.

Punchline: Sweat tracking is the new step counting, and a promising spoke for Apple’s wrist-worn health hub.

📰 News & Notes

  • Glamping, burnout drive camping boom.
  • Got news? Publish a press release to Fitt Insider.
  • Xponential Fitness divests from treadmill studio STRIDE.
  • Liquid Death enters electrolyte powder wars with Death Dust.
  • New research reveals impact of fitness on resilience, stress tolerance.
  • NYC sues social media companies for fueling youth mental health crisis.
  • Outdoor fitness operator OutFit accelerates franchising efforts in Florida.
  • Endurance training platform FasCat Coaching launches AI feedback feature.
  • Maybourne Hotel Group taps Huberman, Sinclair for UK-based longevity club.
  • Fitt Jobs: Top health and fitness companies are hiring. Join our free talent network to be considered for open roles. Hiring? Enlist our recruiters for your search.

💰 Money Moves

  • British functional beverage brand spacegoods raised £2.5M in a seed round led by Five Seasons Ventures.
  • VR fitness platform FitXR received an undisclosed investment from CircleRock Capital.
  • Virtual cardiometabolic care provider 9amHealth raised $9.5M in a Series A extension round led by The Cigna Group Ventures.
  • Maternity clinic Oula raised $28M in a Series B round co-led by Revolution Ventures and Maverick Ventures.
  • Superfood nutrition brand Kroma Wellness secured $5.2M in a Series A round.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy company Jones raised $1.1M in a pre-seed round led by Good Friends.
  • Integrative medical center Nava Health is going public via a $320M merger with 99 Acquisition.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, Ryan Deer, and Jasmina Breen. 

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