CANDIA -- For more than 35 years, Ellie Atherton has utilized herbs for her own health and the wellness of others. She also spent 12 years employed as a hospice nurse.
Two weeks ago, Atherton successfully combined her passion and experience when she cut the ribbon on Mantra Health Center and Herbal Care at 16 Deer Run Road.
“I started as an herbalist in the ’70s as a teen because I couldn’t take meds. I would take them and weird things would happen to me,” said Atherton. “So I started to think about what else I could do when I needed something, and it just came naturally and I was very passionate about it.”
People didn’t take to Atherton’s holistic solutions right away, but over time she said she developed a work-from-home herbal product line and health consultation business called Nature’s Necessities, which she ran from 1992 through 2004. That’s when she decided to turn her attention to becoming a hospice nurse. In 2010, she helped create a hospice program in Rochester, and last year began feeling a tug at her heart to start another herbal remedy and consultation business.
“I jumped off the financial cliff,” she said. “I’m still soaring. I haven’t hit bottom, and I haven’t taken off, but everyone in town that sees it and comes and hears about it is very excited. There’s nothing in Candia like it.”
In addition to producing and selling herbal remedies, including teas, capsules and tinctures, Atherton is offering holistic consultations and many health and wellness classes and programs such as yoga and tai chi. She has one room dedicated to massages and another to the retail sale of all locally-produced artisan products such as wall coverings, hand-made jewelry and much more.
Atherton has also committed to purchasing all her herbs, beeswax and other products locally.
“As much as I can get locally to support other people, and because it’s better to have local plants, I’m going to do it,” she said.
“My other really big thing is … affordability,” she said. “Wellness is so expensive today. So everything that happens here is very affordable. In the ’90s, I charged $50 an hour for consults. I was very busy. I’m still going to charge the same because I want follow-up. That’s what makes the success.”
Many similar business charge as much as $150 an hour, which Atherton said prices them out to everyday people who have insurance that doesn’t cover such remedies and services.
“The nice thing for a lot of people who are getting a holistic consultation here is I am a nurse and an herbalist of almost 40 years now, and I think that gives some people comfort,” she said. “Everything here is professional; everyone here is certified. I want people of all ages to feel comfortable coming in.”
Perhaps more importantly, she said, is the focus on person-to-person interaction.
“We’re trying to find ways to bring people together, because one of my little pet peeves today with technology is we have all these forms of communication, but we actually spend less time really communicating and being together with people ... this is a place to bring them together and open up that interaction a little more.”