An almost fatal accident five years ago has led Shay Harris and husband Clint to develop a unique product that beautifully blends both their passions. Since perfecting the recipe, their HEMPiT Pain Balm and Save Your Skin products have brought huge relief and amazing transformations to many grateful customers – including Shay herself.
After the freak car crash on Beermullah West Road, near the couple’s family farm, Shay was left with a giant wound almost splitting her skull in half, and permanent nerve damage. She was in constant pain and drugged up on prescription pain medication.
“I thought, there’s no point being here if I’m not present, I felt like a zombie!” she explains. Desperate for a natural solution, she weaned herself off the pain medication and tried whatever she could to heal herself and be there for Clint and their six shared children.
Already interested in growing hemp himself, Clint had tried a few crops with varied success at the Beermullah property. He was fascinated with the potential of this ancient crop, which is enjoying a revival due to its versatility and medicinal properties.
“After going back and forth for a few years, I finally got a license to grow up to two hectares to make hemp seed or hemp seed oil. It’s been a bit of a learning curve – all the varieties are from France and the UK and not for Australian conditions,” says Clint.
Five years ago, landmark legal changes made medicinal cannabis legal, which has gradually changed the way consumers view both cannabis and hemp products. As more markets open up, it is expected that better agricultural knowledge will become available.
“I’m planning another winter crop next year,” says Clint. At approximately $100 per litre – he’s hoping it succeeds.
Although the hemp and the cannabis plant belong to the same plant family, Cannabis sativa L, they are two quite separate plants compositionally – the main difference being the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in each plant. THC being the chemical that causes a “high”.
While the cannabis plant has high THC levels (up to 28%), the hemp plant’s THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%. So while products derived from the hemp plant are unlikely to create a “high” they have many health benefits – mainly due to the high content of three polyunsaturated fatty acids: linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid.
Hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing the hemp seeds into an oil, in the same way olives or canola seeds are pressed to make oils. The resulting liquid has a rich profile of nutrients, fatty acids, and useful bioactive compounds which, as Shay discovered, help with pain management, particularly in reducing inflammation, as well as being effective in treating acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Shay said, “With Clint already having the hemp license, he then went out and bought a lot of natural products, including hemp seed oil, and I started experimenting.”
Shay admits to going a bit overboard mixing potions and developing her own concoctions using hemp oil and essential oils such as sandalwood, eucalyptus and peppermint. She even made candles and soaps – investigating and learning along the way. Using a base of shea butter, she mixed a skin cream specifically to treat her daughter Mikayla’s eczema, and to her amazement it worked.
“We were just gobsmacked. We’d been spending so much on steroids! And the amazing thing was that it wasn’t coming back. When you find something like that you just want to share it with the world!” she says.
She worked to fine tune the recipes into the two products they focus on now – Pain Balm and Save Your Skin. Each has special qualities and Shay says she tweaked and tweaked to get the mixes right.
“Save Your Skin is a moisturising cream that works wonders on eczema, dry skin, insect bites, cracked heels, and is a general skin healer. It has helped me heaps with my scar, and given me that confidence,” says Shay.
“Pain Balm is a blend of hemp seed oil, beeswax, coconut oil and a special mix of essential oils which work together to relieve pain. Hemp oil gets right into the joints and sore muscles,” explains Shay. “It’s given me huge relief from inflammation.”
“Many people have had success with it and there are so many stories, it’s just wonderful. A friend who helped me with testing the product suffers from chronic arthritis and couldn’t even hold a coffee cup before she started using it, and now she can fully close her grip.”
The sky is the limit for Shay and Clint’s next stage of the business, but they are committed to making sure they look after their existing customers first. At the moment they supply quite a range – from nursing homes to tattoo shops, as well as local businesses like the Lancelin Surf shop, West Coast Honey, CU@Park, Gingin CRC and the Northern Valleys Locavore Store.
“We want to make sure we can deliver on our promise and make the products in higher volumes. I give away one free tin every week, and I get 10 more sales. Once people use it, they want more – so I’m looking into a machine that can pump out 100 at a time,” says Shay. “I’d really like to thank everyone who has supported my products. It’s very therapeutic for me – I’m helping people which is important.”
Naturally, the ultimate goal is to make a full range of products, and to make them from their own home-grown and locally pressed hemp oil – a dream that is growing a little closer each year, and looking every bit more like reality with each sale of HEMPiT’s special products.