Home garden source of ingredients for herbal products
An interest in natural remedies has grown into a part-time career for Maree Murphy and she now produces teas and tinctures using organic herbs from her home garden.
Murphy, a qualified scientist turned medical herbalist, used to work for sausage manufacturer Huttons testing meat quality and later for a Wellington dental research laboratory. As a busy mother raising her brood of nine children, she turned to herbal remedies for relief.
"I was quite stressed when I had little children and found how much more relaxed I felt drinking herbal lemon balm tea."
She retrained with a three-year diploma through the International College of Herbal Medicine and since starting Heavenly Herbs three years ago she now sells about 25 herbal products she has concocted and has consultations with clients seeking specialised treatment.
Her brain and memory oral formula includes gingko and rosemary to improve memory, concentration and mental performance. A blend of licorice, lemon balm and other herbs was supposed to reduce constipation while a fenugreek, dandelion root and St Mary's thistle mix was designed to be a cholesterol aid.
She also makes creams. These include one for eczema, using citrus seed extract and Jojoba oil, and a nourishing night cream using rosehip oil and calendula oil. Therapeutic creams include one for haemorrhoids, with aloe and horsetail, and one for stretchmarks which is wheatgerm-oil-based.
"I'm always making new ones," she said. Murphy recently started making natural rose and lavender-scented perfume creams after customers requested non-chemical perfumes as some traditional eau de parfum can irritate allergies.
Plenty of people were sceptical about herbal treatments. She said there was "definitely a place for doctors, nurses, hospitals".
"I like people to go to the doctor first to know exactly what condition we're looking at."
Her clients ranged from people with long-term, chronic health conditions to those who had recently been diagnosed with an illness and wanted to avoid starting to take a host of antibiotics.
She usually discussed nutrition with clients, advising that they avoid processed foods. "Good nutrition is the base. If you think of the body like a car, good food is the petrol and herbs are like oil and water - a top-up now and then to keep things running well."
Her clients included a teenager with bad skin, pregnant women, recent mothers and menopausal women. The majority were aged in their 30s and 40s, when health problems typically began to arise in otherwise healthy people.
"Most are people with small niggling health issues, from feeling stressed and constipated, people who can't sleep or have digestion issues, get migraines, have skin conditions." She said it had taken an investment of under $10,000 to get the business off the ground, marketing it online and through letterbox drops, although word of mouth drew most clients.
The business is small-scale, taking up about 18 hours a week of Murphy's time.