How Gympie man's invention cured his crippling pain
IT'S hard to understand how profoundly life can be upended by losing the use of a single limb but it's a dilemma Kia Ora man Ben Blackburn understands all too well.
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The permaculture enthusiast suffered a torn ligament in one elbow and developed tennis elbow in the other, and went from being completely able-bodied to virtually crippled over night.
"It was so bad I couldn't even hold a cup of coffee, let alone a chain-saw," Mr Blackburn said.
After an MRI and cortosone injections, Mr Blackburn came to realise very quickly that these treatments were helpful in the short-term but were of no use other than as a band-aid measure.
"I knew about the healing properties (for joint pain) of comfrey but it's traditionally used in a poultice, which isn't very practical.
"So I started experimenting with developing it into a balm," he said.
Once he got the consistency right, he started to notice a gradual decline in pain and said within two weeks of regular use felt almost back to normal.
His friends, watching his rapid recovery were curious to know his secret so he gave them some of his special magic.
All agreed he could sell it, and that's exactly what he started doing at his garden market stalls.
And that's how Archie's Ache-Away was born.
The packaging design is all Mr Blackburn, but the name comes from his two and a half-year old son.
Mr Blackburn's recipe, though a closely guarded secret, has only four ingredients - comfrey, beeswax, olive oil and locally sourced essential oils - either lavender or lemon myrtle, depending on which of the two varieties of salve is being made.
"They both have two very different uses.
"The lavender one is more calming and relaxing and helps with inflammation, deep tissue repair and pain relief.
"The lemon myrtle has high antibacterial properties and helps guard against infections and is great for mild cuts and abrasions and to treat insect bites," he said.
Mr Blackburn takes pride in the fact that all of the ingredients are either produced by himself or locally.
"It's my comfrey - and it's such a versatile plant that you can use the roots and the leaves - I use my beewax and I use my own olive oil.
"The essential oils come from a neighbour," Mr Blackburn said.
Mr Blackburn was doing a cracking trade at the markets with Archie's Ache-Away until the COVID-19 lockdowns meant that the markets were closed.
He's now working with a friend to get the business up and running for online sales but admits that part of the process is outside his area of expertise.
"It's been a struggle since this all started, but now I have the potential to market it across the country," he said.
While an on-going business concern, it's not the money that drives Mr Blackburn.
"When I was at the markets, I used to get people coming back to me, to buy more for their family and friends and amazed at how it really works, and how effective it is," Mr Blackburn said.
"And I genuinely want that feedback. I want to hear from the people I've helped.
"It really does work. I'm not selling snake oil," he said.
Mr Blackburn's new website is archiesacheaway.com or phone 0404 364 811.