Sometimes, a challenging situation inspires innovative solutions. Such was the case for Lisa Ball CEO of Plum Dragon Herbs, Inc. of Chester, MD. Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, she told by doctors there was no cure. Three weeks later, after intensive research, a change in diet, and the addition of supplements, she amazed her physicians by curing herself. This passion for research, natural healing and wellness combined with her entrepreneurial spirit, and in 2013 she purchased Plum Dragon from a friend.
The company’s goal then and now was the manufacture and sale of a line of 100% herbal and natural topical analgesics for sports-related injuries, such as tendonitis, bruising, sprains, strains, fractures, etc. “The pain relief formulas are based on ancient Chinese remedies called ‘Dit Da Jow,’ which was the secret to the superior feats of strength, resilience, and rapid recovery of the famed Shaolin Monks and Samurai warriors,” says Ball. Plum Dragon acquired and translated these herbal formulas, keeping the traditional authenticity, the original method of preparation, and many of the original names.
They were originally marketed to Olympic athletes, martial artists, and fighters. But according to Ball, as word of mouth spread about the success of the analgesics, they began to be used by ‘everyday folks’ all over the world to treat their pain and injury. “In short, she says, “we are bringing powerful ancient healing secret formulas of the great warriors and martial artists of the Eastern world…”
These ancient mixtures, which are manufactured locally in Chester, MD, contain 15-30 powerful medical herbs in an alcohol base, which are aged for a minimum period of 6 months. In formulating these tinctures, Plum Dragon has had many advisors including acupuncturists, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, as well as nutraceutical chemists and FDA consultants.
Plum Dragon advertises that their top three best selling topical analgesics can help with nearly all types of pain or injury. The Ho Family Dit Da Jow is their number one best-selling formula for pain relief and used for muscle pain and injury, tendonitis, and nerve pain. The Bruise Juice is best for new injuries with bruising, redness, and/or swelling and for inflammatory conditions where inflammation is apparent. The Ancestor’s Advanced formula is best for arthritis, older injuries or fractures that are taking a long time to heal, and connective tissue injuries. The formulas are applied topically to the affected area a minimum of three times per day for an average period of 1 to 2 weeks (sometimes longer for more serious injuries).
Asked about the safety of these analgesics, Ball points out that the herbs used by Plum Dragon have thousands of years of recorded history of safe usage, and work with the body to support and enhance its natural healing processes. In contrast “many of the chemicals used in our competitor’s products, both topical and oral (including sports creams, NSAIDs, and opioids), have known and scientifically proven harmful side-effects, and relieve pain by circumventing or blocking the body’s natural healing functions.”
At the beginning of May, Plum Dragon received some promising news. The Maryland based Technology Development Corporation’s (TEDCO) Rural Business Innovation Initiative (RBI2) announced Plum Dragon as its first pre-seed funding recipient. RBI2 provides technical and business assistance to small companies and early-stage technology-based companies in rural Maryland counties. According to Ann Balduzzi, Director of Advisory Services, “We’re looking for start-ups with a really good idea, that is growing, and that has a strong team. Since we’re offering small pre-seed funding of $25,000, we are highly selective.” Plum Dragon fit all that criteria.
“Jack Schammel, the Upper Shore RBI2 mentor, had been working with Lisa Ball for some time. “The company, under Lisa’s leadership has grown rapidly.” Schammel says, “Lisa took full advantage of assistance opportunities, listened to mentors, hired capable people, sets goals, and made a solid business plan. We see a great future.”
Given today’s emphasis on wellness and Ball’s enthusiasm, RBI2 selection of Plum Dragon is apparent. According to Ball, the pre-seed investment provided by the program will give the company “an opportunity to improve product delivery mechanism and packaging, marketing, brand messaging, online sales funnels, and e-commerce functionality.”
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.