Mahone Bay, N.S. entrepreneur developing natural tick repellent
Posted on July 13, 2021 | By Simon R. Smith | 0 Comments
When Lisa Ali discovered her two sons had developed Lyme disease, the Mahone Bay, N.S. entrepreneur began looking for ways to protect them from ticks carrying the disease, which can be contracted multiple times by the same person.
“Knowing that they were still young boys and they were still going to be playing outdoors and going outside … I started looking for a product that didn’t have DEET that was scientifically proven to repel ticks,” Ali said.
DEET is the active ingredient in many personal insect repellents and is recommended by the Government of Nova Scotia for repelling disease-carrying ticks. But, not wanting to use the strong chemical on her sons’ skin, Ali said she couldn’t find a natural alternative on the Canadian market.
So, she decided to do her own research, reading scientific studies which discussed the use of essential oils to repel ticks, and eventually developed her own formula made from all-natural ingredients and tested it with the help of Acadia University biology researcher, Nicoletta Faraone.
“It was all a bit of a coincidence and it all lined up really well,” Ali said. “But we got together and we’ve been working together ever since.”
To be registered in Canada as a tick repellent, a formula needs to be 95 per cent effective, Ali said, but hers repelled only 80 to 85 per cent of the ticks in the testing environment. This original formula, dubbed an “outdoor spray” and made in Mahone Bay, can be purchased on Atlantick’s website along with other tick-related products like tick kits and tick removers.
Ali and Faraone have since developed a new formula they say is 97.5 per cent effective and is longer-lasting than Atlantick’s original formula. The new formula is currently awaiting approval from Health Canada but due to several delays, Ali said, it’s taking longer than anticipated.
“I keep thinking … it should be done in a year and then a year goes by, COVID hits, things get delayed,” Ali said.
In the meantime, Atlantick will continue to sell its original formula and share information on its website and Facebook page about ticks and Lyme disease.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole adult life, but when I realized that I could have a product that would actually help people and prevent people from being in the position that I was in … it was really something,” Ali said.
Ali said that, because Lyme can mimic other diseases, families like hers can sometimes be dismissed by doctors.
“We get a lot of calls where people tell us their stories and the doctors don’t take them seriously or the doctors think it’s all in their head,” she said. “It’s really important for everyone to be talking about it so that change happens. Change doesn’t happen unless people are talking.”
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