Dr. Kellyann Petrucci Explains How to Trust Your Gut—Literally

UPDATED: March 16, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 16, 2024
Dr. Kellyann Petrucci in white suit

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci didn’t discover the powers of bone broth in a lab. She discovered it in life, by asking questions, learning lessons and mixing everything she knew into the very first batch of bone broth she made in her kitchen at home. That was almost 10 years ago, and now, Petrucci—a board-certified naturopathic physician—is considered one of the most prominent trailblazers in the well-being space and a front-runner in functional medicine.

Long before she created the bone broth diet and wrote a tall stack of New York Times bestselling books on nutrition, Petrucci was a teenager suffering through the pains of adolescence. What she thought was just monthly bouts of menstrual cramps turned out to be endometriosis, which left her with more questions than answers. “I’ve always had this investigative curiosity within me that was innate,” Petrucci says. “What else was innate is that, any time I was in a bookstore, I would always go to the health and wellness section. I was never interested in anything else. My friends were reading bridal magazines and Cosmo, and I never had any interest. I would literally be on the beach with them reading [a] diabetes journal.”

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci says goodbye to gluten

When she left for college at Temple University, Petrucci joined a local gym. It was love at first sight. She started signing up for fitness and bodybuilding competitions. Six weeks before a bodybuilding event, in an effort to help her become her leanest, her trainer at the time told her to eliminate gluten from her diet. It was the first lesson she never knew she needed. 

“When I did that, during the first month, 70% of my cramps were gone. The second month, probably 90% were gone. And by three months on a gluten-free, paleo type of diet, I had zero cramps,” she says. “So, there was this massive understanding of the power of food and what it can really do for you, or what it can do against you. I took one thing out of my diet, but it was that one thing that was causing that inflammation in my body that was really allowing this condition to flare. So, that was my aha moment.”

After graduating from college, Petrucci earned a doctor of chiropractic degree, but she really only had one thing on her mind: the functionality of food. “My mind was always on the chemistry and what happens when food enters your body,” she says. “How does it affect things? How does it affect your organs? How does it affect your nervous system? That was always where my interest lied. And that’s why, when I was done, I continued my studies in naturopathic school. I had a teacher [who] said, ‘I know that you use a lot of supplements for everything. But you’ll find that if you think about global nutrition, a lot of people don’t have those resources, so they heal with food.’ That just really clicked with me.”

The first batch of bone broth 

As she started digging deeper into the food-as-medicine well, Petrucci discovered that one of the very first champions of bone broth was Mother Teresa. Petrucci says that when she was researching her series of paleo health books, she started down a path of ancestral medicines. That’s when she first learned about how the missionary nun was bringing the broth to hospitals to care for the sick.

“As I investigated further and further, I thought, ‘Whatever this is, this stuff has got to be a miracle.’ Because Mother Teresa would always talk about how it opened your gut for healing, I ended up figuring it out and making the formulation in my kitchen,” she says of her first experiments with recipes. “I could not believe what it started doing to my body. I started falling in love with it.”

Petrucci found it “pulled a ton of levers” as it began to heal her gut. “It started to reduce the inflammation in my body, and it started to teach my body to become what I call a natural fat burner,” she says. “That gut lining is super, super, super thin. And you’ve got 25 feet-plus wrapped up in your body in this long, narrow tube. You have to keep it cleansed and not clogged.”

But as much as Petrucci loved it herself, her team was not leaning into the bone broth name. “No one wanted to call it ‘bone broth.’ They thought it wasn’t sexy, and it wasn’t marketable. I had to fight to keep the brand identity,” she recalls of defending the name she’d made synonymous with losing pounds, inches and even wrinkles.

Startup growing pains

Then came the growing pains of any health-based startup. Before she could hire a C-suite of leaders, Petrucci had to figure out things for herself: the best use of revenue, the smartest marketing strategy, the product’s shelf life and then, ultimately, should she reach out for funding? She did, about three years ago, and since then, her strategic partnership with Veyl Ventures has helped her scale the brand and the business much more fully than she could have on her own. 

“I didn’t know anything,” Petrucci says. “So, I just learned, I learned and I learned. It is a long game. There are people out there who start their companies and then they exit very quickly. That was not the case for me. I’m still very highly involved… my fingerprints are on pretty much everything.” Veyl Ventures now considers the Dr. Kellyann brand the category leader, whose customers keep coming back for more, making it the fastest-growing bone broth brand in the natural channel.

Be kind to your body and everybody

Even with all that Petrucci has accomplished in her professional life, she still considers how she was raised to be kind as the secret to her success. “It brings me to a quote that I love from the Dalai Lama XIV who said, ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible,’” she says. “So, to achieve outstanding health, be kind to yourself, be kind to your body, be kind to everyone that you interact with, because outstanding health actually doesn’t start in a doctor’s office. It starts in the heart.” 

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kellyann Petrucci.