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Area women market locally-made arnica healing balm

Lydia Irons, a licensed massage therapist with practices in Hadley and Northampton, and Brittany Wood Nickerson, an Amherst herbalist, are entrepreneurs who know the farmer’s body is vulnerable to aches, pains, stresses and strains.

Irons, who owns The Flexible Farmer, began working with Nickerson, who operates Thyme Herbal, to develop the product Flexible Farmer, a balm made with arnica herbs and beeswax. It is applied in a tube much like an oversized lip balm.

Irons said it was her workshops and consultations with farmers that gave her the inspiration to develop the new product. She instructs farmers on ways to move without straining their bodies, and offers maintenance massage sessions at her practice Clinic Alternative Medicines in Northampton.

While she uses arnica oil in her work, she said, she found it was not easy to apply, and worse, “it was staining my clients’ clothes.”

She thought a product that would not only be easy to apply but also easy to carry could be useful.

“A farmer wouldn’t be able to just happen to have arnica gels in his or her glove compartment. They would go bad,” Irons said. “It was Brittany’s idea to pack it in a giant ChapStick-looking container and it’s turned out to be pretty convenient. The beeswax keeps it from going bad and makes it as easy to apply as deodorant.”

Irons and Patterson wanted their product to be local and affordable.

“I believe in the local economy,” Irons said. “The best way to offer such a product was to find someone in the Pioneer Valley to help make it.”

Nickerson operates a clinical herbal practice out of the Atkinson Family Practice in Amherst.

On her website, Nickerson notes that as a child she saw a relative treat an illness with natural medicine and alternative therapies. “Sometimes, when I think about health and the body, I can still hear her voice in my head,” she writes on her website.

Flexible Farmer Arnica Balm is available for $8 at Irons’ office at the Hadley Park Plaza on Route 9; at Clinic Alternative Medicines, 98 Main St., Northampton; or online at theflexiblefarmer.com for $9.

“It’s been really popular,” Irons said. “A lot more people know about the healing effects of arnica, and a lot of my clients are buying it. We’ve actually sold out a couple of times.”

Is this homeopathic arnica or herbal arnica?

True, studies haven't iprovedi it to be effective, but arnica can't be described as "nonsense". There have been some studies that show promising results. For example, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center site (http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/arnica) questions the full claims made of the herb but also cites several positive results. "A few recent studies, however, reported benefits of homeopathic formulations of arnica in reducing postoperative swelling in patients following knee surgery; and for pain relief in those following tonsillectomy"

I wish the paper would be more critical of people selling nonsense as medicine. Studies haven't found arnica to be effective.

ooops, the above comment from me, VillaG, was meant as a reply to IsobelAnais True, studies haven't proved it to be effective, but arnica can't be described as "nonsense". There have been some studies that show promising results. For example, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center site (http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/arnica) questions the full claims made of the herb but also cites several positive results. "A few recent studies, however, reported benefits of homeopathic formulations of arnica in reducing postoperative swelling in patients following knee surgery; and for pain relief in those following tonsillectomy"

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