Unstoppable: How Dan Corrigan Made Incredible Accomplishments Despite A Life-Threatening Intestinal Condition
Try your best to power through each day and at the same time, explore any and every health option. The triggering event that cured me so I could focus on my gut health was going to a free Feng Shui seminar. You don’t know where the answer lies, and you won’t find it unless you keep looking and advocating for yourself. And even if you don’t “cure” something, you may be improved or better off. There could be positive outcomes that you didn’t initially desire, and that’s not a bad thing.
As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Corrigan, co-founder of Smidge Small Batch Supplements.
Dan Corrigan is a co-founder of Smidge® Small Batch Supplements. He launched Smidge® to help others on their healing journeys, having survived a life-threatening intestinal condition. His decade-long search for answers led him to discover the importance of gut health based on a real food diet with fat-soluble vitamins and clean supplements. Corrigan is trained in several dietary protocols and natural health disciplines. He’s a pioneer of the real food movement, with past leadership positions in organizations dedicated to Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS. He has spoken across the country about the effects of wholesome food and holistic health, especially on behalf of parents — who have reached out to him to create pure supplements for children with sensitivities to ingredients and additives in commercial brands.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Thank you for having me and providing me with the space to share my story. My health started a downward spiral in college. I had an insatiable hunger and was eating 10,000 calories a day, yet I couldn’t gain weight. I weighed 130 pounds at 6-feet tall. Some people joked that they would love this to happen to them. But it was a nightmare.
I got married around this time and my wife urged me to get help. So begrudgingly, I went to the doctor. The doctor ran tests, the tests came back and I was told, “Everything’s normal. Nothing is wrong with you.” I looked at the doctor and I said, “What?! I have all of these symptoms and problems, and my health is getting worse and worse.” I saw holistic doctors who prescribed supplements and I took them. Nothing really worked.
I did this for a couple of years before deciding I needed to take control of my health. One of the first things I did was find a blood sugar meter, and it read, “Below 20: Seek immediate emergency medical attention.” And I’m like, “This is how I feel every single day.” It really explained to me why I had an insatiable hunger for years. And then the light went off. I wasn’t absorbing any nutrients even though I was eating unthinkable amounts of food. My body was screaming for nutrients. So, I embarked on a journey to heal my gut with support from different doctors — from regular allopathic medical doctors to alternative practitioners. I went on a real food diet to provide these nutrients.
But then I realized I needed to supplement to get some of the nutrients you can’t get from your diet. And that’s how I came to start my own supplement company, now called Smidge®, with my fellow co-founders, Archie Welch and Karen Myers.
When we researched how to find the right supplements, we found quite a bit of problem with the supplements on the market. Either they were low quality, had toxic ingredients, or were made with synthetic vitamins. And one of the big, common problems with many commercial supplements is that they have isolated nutrients in mega doses. They try to solve a problem but inadvertently create more problems, like mineral imbalances that can cause long-term health issues.*
With Smidge, we provide high-quality, pure supplements without any synthetic vitamins, no harsh fillers, or any of that junk. The key is, they’re not designed to cure anything. They’re just designed to help support the body, provide the missing key nutrients and achieve balance.
Now I share with the world the tools and knowledge I used to regain my own optimal health.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
I dropped a 45-pound weight right on my ankle. It was painful and left a mark. Little did I know it created a blockage of my spleen meridian, which in Chinese medicine, controls the absorption of nutrients. From that day on, I wasn’t absorbing nutrients. This led me to have an insatiable hunger, to eating obscene amounts of food because I was starving, which damaged my gut. As time went on, it was a snowball effect of more problems and worsening problems. After I learned that different traumas can set off an illness, either physical or emotional, whether it be a car accident, a divorce, a pet passing away, etc. For me, it was a physical trauma and it took a long time to realize dropping the weight on my ankle was the trauma.
People looked at me and thought there was nothing wrong. Even the doctor said the tests showed nothing is wrong. There was nothing visible. That was even more frustrating. Nobody had sympathy or understanding. Some people were even jealous of how much I was eating, but they didn’t realize I was constantly starving and thinking about food. I felt like you do when you have the bad flu and don’t have any energy to do much of anything. And so, every day was a herculean struggle just to get out of bed. But I had no choice. I had to function. There was no other option other than to fight every day of the battle to get through the day.
The shift was my wife prompting me to go to the doctor and telling me I must figure it out because I wasn’t a fun person to live with. For instance, the amount of time spent eating, you can’t even comprehend how much time and money it took and its effect on my mood. I didn’t complain much because that wasn’t going to change anything. I thought I would deal with it. But my wife pushed me to find the answers.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?
One of the key things is that I have a level of understanding and empathy toward our Smidge customers. This has been a tremendous factor in the company’s success because we do not ever discount or question the experiences they share about their personal health journeys.
The original probiotic formula (Smidge® Sensitive Probiotic powder) I created was based on listening to people. I believed what they were saying and I did not discount their experiences, even though there was no way for me to verify. Having decades of scientific research and a deep understanding of traditional cultures and diets from pioneering the real food movement, my partners and I gathered feedback from parents of children on the autism spectrum, people with chronic disease and those on very special diets. We heard their desperate calls for help when no one else would. For example, mothers of children who had PANDAS/PANS, an autoimmune disorder that affects neurological functioning and is presented with an intensely sensitive digestive system, would tell me that the probiotic of a different brand that I was selling in the early stages of business had strains and additives that gave their children awful side effects. So, I created a pure, clean product with strains that were easy on their sensitive digestive systems. We went back to the formulaic drawing board a couple of times before providing exactly what they needed.
And on the customer service side, we have that compassion and empathy for anybody that calls, because we have no idea what they are going through. This sort of support is rare and goes beyond solving tickets. We will do everything we can to listen and support people because we know how it feels not to be believed or supported.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations
- Try your best to power through each day and at the same time, explore any and every health option. The triggering event that cured me so I could focus on my gut health was going to a free Feng Shui seminar. You don’t know where the answer lies, and you won’t find it unless you keep looking and advocating for yourself. And even if you don’t “cure” something, you may be improved or better off. There could be positive outcomes that you didn’t initially desire, and that’s not a bad thing.
- Build your own team. I was going to three healers at once: two doctors and a shaman. I’d say the same thing to all three of them. Everybody is human. Doctors are just another person and they draw from their experiences, so each may have a different piece of advice that can help you. At the same time, if a healer isn’t open to your experiences and ideas about your own healing, you could consider one who is. Taking control of your own health doesn’t mean not having a doctor; it’s finding someone who resonates with you at that point in time in your journey.
- Consider trauma you have experienced. I believe that medical conditions can arise around the same time trauma has occurred, physical or emotional. Everyone has different symptoms and presentations. Someone lost a loved one, the house burned down… some trauma throws you off. It really helps to acknowledge and work through that trauma in conjunction with physical healing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My wife, Addie, for supporting me and prompting me to get my illness figured out. And Dr. Jes Tyng-Yee Lim, an acupuncturist and Grand Master of Feng Shui. He did a treatment on my ankle that got rid of the energy blockage of my spleen meridian, which then allowed me to heal my gut with probiotics and replenish nutrients with an ancestral diet. We all need nutrition and gut health and sometimes, there’s an extra something out there that’s specific to the individual.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe I have by creating my company Smidge, where we provide small-batch, high-quality, extremely pure supplements that deliver nutrients that are tough to get from today’s diet. The stories we hear about our customers’ healing journeys drive me to put my two feet on the ground each morning. My partners and I live to serve them and are humbled to receive their trust in our products as they go on their unique paths to wellness.
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
- Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean there’s not a health issue.
- Just because someone doesn’t complain doesn’t mean they’re not going through something tremendous.
- You don’t know what people are going through until you listen to them with compassion, empathy, and patience. They might not seem like the most pleasant person because they don’t feel well and are going through a lot.
- Many times, emotional or physical trauma can be the impetus for a long-term health issue. And acknowledging and addressing that trauma can be incredibly supportive of physical healing.
- When digestive issues persist, they can lead to other health ailments. Sometimes it might be obvious that there’s a gut health issue, but gut health issues can also present as a mental health issue because of the gut-brain connection. You may also see skin issues, allergies, and many other things when the gut needs healing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” — Richard Branson
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 😊
I would love to have lunch with Richard Branson. I recently spoke with a fellow entrepreneur who told me that he was going to create a group specifically for entrepreneurs with dyslexia. My first thought was that there couldn’t be very many entrepreneurs with dyslexia because it must be hard if you cannot read. When my fellow entrepreneur told me about his dyslexic traits, I quickly realized I had an entirely false perception of dyslexia. For whatever reason, I just thought it was a disability that hampered people’s ability to read. I had no idea that it was so much more than that. It gave them a unique ability to see things differently. In other words, they were able to connect the dots when other people couldn’t. Then I started to search for entrepreneurs with dyslexia, and there are many of them, including Richard Branson. I would love to hear about the challenges he faced before becoming successful, and how he learned to use his unique ability of dyslexia.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!