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Lehi • Political heavyweights turned out Tuesday to help Nature's Sunshine celebrate its 45th anniversary as a quintessential Utah business success story — an innovator in both dietary supplements and multilevel marketing.

Sen. Orrin Hatch was there, receiving as many plaudits as the company for his role in promoting nutritional supplements, partly through passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 and two decades of protecting them from U.S. Food and Drug Administration tinkering.

On one side of Hatch was Gov. Gary Herbert. On the other was Attorney General Sean Reyes, both of whom had high praise for the company founded around a kitchen table 4½ decades ago by Kristine and Gene Hughes along with sister-in-law Pauline Hughes.

"This is not just a celebration of Nature's Sunshine but also all of Utah and the great business climate we offer," Herbert said. "This is a good example of American possibilities, of what we can do in a free-market system."

Commending the Hugheses as "terrific people all these years," Hatch called Nature's Sunshine a "typical Utah company, having risen from nothing to great heights because of the great entrepreneurial spirit we have."

The Hugheses greeted visitors and wore satisfied smiles as speakers recollected how Kristine came up with the idea of putting cayenne pepper into capsules so Gene could more easily consume the herb that worked better than anything else in easing his ulcer.

From that humble beginning, Nature's Sunshine has mushroomed into an international presence, offering some of its 27 products in 40 countries. The company also employs 1,000 people worldwide, including 600 in Utah.

"This great company has spent 45 years transforming lives around the world. Great companies do great things," said Gregory Probert, its current chairman and CEO.

He maintained Nature's Sunshine has succeeded because of its dedication to service, integrity, quality, community relationships and innovation.

Probert pointed to the 2015 creation of The Hughes Center for Research and Innovation, which is attached to company headquarters in Lehi. It already has conducted 11 clinical studies, yielding 12 patents.

"No one in the industry does research like that," he added.

There's no doubt, said United Natural Products Alliance President Loren Israelsen, that Nature's Sunshine is synonymous with quality and professionalism. It's also been at the forefront of legitimizing the industry, he said, being one of eight companies that formed the alliance "to do battle with the FDA … no prisoners taken."

Israelsen said the alliance has received considerable assistance through the years from Hatch. The seven-term Utah senator insisted passage of the 1994 bill "succeeded in spreading the word that dietary supplements are essential to healthy living and crucial to those of us who use them on a regular basis."

The approach Nature's Sunshine took — "be more scientific, be more successful" — provided ample ammunition for "people who stood up and said we believe in health and products like this," he added.

Israelsen predicted bright days ahead for Nature's Sunshine as its research seeks herbal remedies to health issues such as diabetes, cancer and weight loss.

Rep. Mia Love also was part of the all-Republican vanguard of public officials at Tuesday's event.