While the COVID-19 pandemic was a time for pause and reflection for many, for Harith Iskander and Dr. Jezamine Lim, it was a moment to contemplate health. The married couple took the initiative to make a positive change by co-founding Aemis to pioneer modern health solutions for Malaysians.
“I had a wake-up call during the MCO to take care of my health. I used to sleep two to three hours a night and manage full days while having to stay sharp,” Dr. Jezamine explains. Although the working mother of three recognises her aptitude for balancing work and family life, she acknowledges that functioning on minimal sleep is detrimental to health in the long term. “It was time to make a stand on looking after my health, and the first area that required serious work was to get more rest and aim for six to eight hours of quality sleep. That goal started us on the journey of establishing Aemis.”
Aemis is on a mission to develop suitable and convenient functional food to improve health. The brand also aims to educate the public, especially those with hectic schedules, on how to lead a balanced life without sacrificing work and health, just as Dr. Jezamine and Harith manage.
“When it comes to Aemis, the word itself doesn’t have a meaning but is derived from the word Aegis, which comes from Greek origins and refers to having protection. We chose something with a nice ring to it, and the fact that it connected to this meaning was a plus factor,” Harith explains.
As Wellous Scientific & Research Advisor, Dr. Jezamine was in a prime position to pursue the development of products for Aemis. The duo conceived Relazz for better sleep alongside Probiome, which promotes better digestive health. Although dedicated to stem cell research, Dr. Jezamine admits to harbouring a long-term interest in the wellness industry. “We have always had a lifestyle that is very different from the norm. In the entertainment industry, Harith works at night. He goes into the office around 8pm, performing until midnight, assuming it is just one show and not more. Although shows are short, he sometimes meets clients after midnight and returns to the office in the morning,” the medical researcher explains, not alone in sharing a life full of disruptions.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time,” Harith acknowledges, well adapted to the odd hours. “But in terms of sleep, after much studying, I have realised that sleep is just as important – if not more important – than eating. You can survive for much longer without food than you can without sleep. That is how critical it is,” the ‘Godfather’ of stand-up comedy mentions.
Relazz is the first sleeping enhancement beverage in Malaysia in sachet form. It is easy to consume and carry around in your pocket or purse. “The idea was to make it easy to take without becoming another pill-type supplement. We also wanted to ensure that every ingredient is backed by peer-reviewed science and those ingredients complement each other,” Dr. Jezamine elaborates.
Over the last two years, Dr. Jezamine read hundreds of research papers searching for the perfect blend. “She does all the reading while I question what all of the scientific jargon means to translate it for the layman,” Harith jokes.
Relazz is a 100% natural solution that combines Lactium Milk Protein Hydrolysate, fermented rice germ extract with hops, sour date seed extract and corn extract (L-Theanine). Lactium is an innovative nutritional ingredient derived from casein. More than a decade of research indicates this bioactive peptide positively influences sleep quality by lowering stress and enhancing the sedative. The thoughtful aid comes with no risk of dependency and is suitable even for those with lactose intolerance.
The sleep enhancement beverage got its quirky name thanks to Harith’s catchphrase with his beloved wife. “I’m the science person, and he’s the creative brain. When it comes to marketing, he came up with the suggestions, and this is just one of the ways we complement each other in developing this brand and the products,” Dr. Jezamine explains.
“To be honest, it’s all about slowing her down,” Harith confides as the pair shares a knowing smile. “It would be after midnight, and I would have many ideas and want to discuss them. He would pat my shoulder and tell me to ‘Relak, relak, sleep,’ and I used to get so annoyed with the word! I didn’t understand how he expected me to calm down, but now I get it,” the ambitious entrepreneur admits.
The Aemis co-founders admit to using Relazz to reclaim quality sleep. “The advantage of Relazz is that the result is almost immediate,” Harith offers in a candid review. “It helped me too, but it was not straightforward to formulate an effective product with ingredients that could harmonise this easily. The first batch used a different ingredient that left us energised rather than sleepy, so it took a while to hit the jackpot,” Dr. Jezamine says.
“As for gut health – having a doctor for a wife has taught me that the gut is the engine that provides the greatest protection against different diseases,” Harith says. It was not an easy path to develop the formulation for Probiome. It contains a dual combination of prebiotics and probiotics that play different roles in feeding friendly bacteria in the digestive system to support healthy digestion and immune function. “Developing a formula that would be stable at room temperature was not easy at all, but the R&D team did a fantastic job,” Dr. Jezamine reveals.
Relazz and Probiome developed concurrently. It made sense for Aemis to lead with these products, as gut microbiota affects mood, sleep, and stress levels. Poor sleep then affects mental health. “Mental health has become a part of everyday conversations, which was not common 2.5 years ago,” Harith observes. The comedian strongly believes in the connection between good sleep and improved mental and physical health. Dr. Jezamine concurs. She wants Aemis to continue addressing core issues for long-term positive results over products that offer temporary, symptomatic solutions without consideration for underlying causes.
“We’re not going to save the world, but when it comes to urban living, we can speak to offering solutions based on how we live,” Harith concludes. When it comes to the future of Aemis, Dr. Jezamine shares a hint of what’s next for the brand. “We are focused on modern civilisation issues, so consider the stress on your body when you sit in front of a laptop all day. Many of us face issues with our bones, tension in the neck and poor nerve health – common issues related to a busy lifestyle. We have supplements in the pipeline to address this and more.”