When Amanda Dillard's husband developed asthma six years ago and they weren't able to afford the medication he was prescribed, she turned to herbal remedies for a solution. Right in her backyard she found mullein, an herb known to improve lung function, which she brewed in tea for her husband.
Dillard now makes a mullein herbal extract that her husband continues to use for asthma relief, and the success he's had with it inspired her to explore what she could do to help others using plants.
She started making syrup with elderberries, which support the immune system and are often used to treat colds and the flu, playing around with different concentrations and combinations of herbs until it was just right.
At first Dillard just shared the syrup with people she knew — family, friends, people at church. Then one day, a parent she didn't know knocked on her door, requesting syrup for her sick child. Dillard handed her a jar, and soon started getting more requests from strangers who'd heard about the syrup's effectiveness.
That's when she knew that herbal medicine had become more than just a way to help her own family.
Dillard launched her business, That Elderberry Lady, in 2016 and her products are now available in 15 local stores and are shipped to customers nationwide.
Her signature elderberry syrup continues to be her best-selling product. It's different from elderberry syrups one might find at a big box store in that it's sweetened with local honey and doesn't contain fillers or artificial preservatives, she said.
"I wanted it to be a really pure product, especially since it's something I'm taking, my kids are taking and other kids are taking," said Dillard, a mom of three young boys.
She's also developed other herbal blends for different purposes. The most popular is her sinus syrup, a blend of herbs providing respiratory support and allergy relief.
Where to find That Elderberry Lady
* Chatt-R-Bug in Hixson
* The Tinker Fairies’ Cottage in Ooltewah
* Nutrition World in Chattanooga
* Noggins Salon in Cleveland
* Rustic Trading Co. in Chattanooga
* Do or Dye Salon in Soddy-Daisy
* Vintrest (Southside and Hixson locations)
* One Eleven Gordon in Chickamauga, Ga.
* Bushel & A Peck in East Ridge
* The Peak Salon in Signal Mountain
* Snapdragon Hemp in Hixson
* Gypsy Owl Jewels Boutique in Ringgold, Ga.
That Elderberry Lady also offers a wide range of other products, such as a line of infused honeys, herbal teas, and lavender dryer bags. Her products are all made from natural, organic ingredients without fillers or preservatives, she said.
"I want people to know there are natural things out there that can help," said Dillard.
She regularly teaches classes around town on plant-based remedies, sharing her knowledge of the history and properties of herbs, where to find herbs locally that haven't been treated with pesticides, and how to find useful herbs in one's own backyard.
Dillard is also passionate about teaching people the right way to make elderberry syrup, as it can be dangerous when done incorrectly, she said. The lid of the pot it's made in needs to be left off or cracked to allow the vapors to escape, because elderberry seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, she explained, adding that she's been shocked to find how many people who make syrup with elderberries don't follow this important step.
That's part of why Dillard started her company — so she'd know it was done right and she'd be comfortable giving it to her own children.
Produced locally in a commercial kitchen, the products have become so popular she's had to hire employees to help meet demand.
"It's grown beyond whatever I thought it could be," Dillard said.
She's now working on getting her products into national chains.
For more information, visit thatelderberrylady.com or find That Elderberry Lady on Facebook.
Email Emily Crisman at email@example.com.