Alexandria, VA – Looking back, MaryBeth Powers knows she’d do things differently next time. “I would spend more time doing my homework first, for sure! And maybe not taking it on all by myself. I had no idea what I was getting into. It just wasn’t easy.”
Powers is talking about the very long road she’s traveled, applying to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to get her all-natural dog treat, Teddy’s Turmeric Tamer, licensed and registered for sale in the Commonwealth. It took three years to bring it to market, but the story begins before she ever developed her product.
Teddy was a 100-pound Newfoundland, a big teddy bear of a dog, sweet and gentle and a deeply loved member of the Powers family. When Teddy was 10 years old, the family noticed a small lump inside his snout. It didn’t go away, so the vet ran a biopsy that revealed cancer cells.
During those difficult weeks between finding a pet oncologist and awaiting their appointment, Powers was busy doing research. She had already spent many hours searching for holistic methods to fight and treat cancer after watching friends battle the disease and being a cancer survivor herself. Now that Teddy had been diagnosed, she researched pet cancer, and found that many natural ingredients were as effective for dogs as they were for humans, especially ginger (shown to slow the growth of certain cancer cells) and turmeric (natural anti-inflammatory agent). Powers created a powder that she began to sprinkle on Teddy’s food, and he loved it. “He’d lick the powder right off the bowl,” she says.
The oncology report came on the first day of a two-week vacation in Maine, always Teddy’s favorite place to romp, run, and swim. It was sarcoma, and the outlook was bleak: Teddy was given two to four weeks to live. He had already become lethargic from sedatives and painkillers. It was heartbreaking to see him this way, so Powers made a difficult decision.
Rather than watch Teddy die in a stupor, Powers consulted her vet, then took him off the sedatives and most of the painkillers, and continued sprinkling the powder on his food.
The transformation was astounding. Within days Teddy was up again, running, swimming, and playing. Four months later, additional testing showed the tumor was eradicated. Teddy lived another three years. The Powers family was over the moon.
An event and meeting planner by trade, Powers was used to taking matters into her own hands and getting things done. Buoyed by Teddy’s good health and that of friends’ pets who also had good results with the powder, she organized her findings and applied to VDACS to get her product licensed in Virginia. She was flatly denied.
“Telling Teddy’s story was my first mistake,” she says. “They said I couldn’t prove it eradicated the tumor or helped him beat cancer. I wasn’t allowed to make any medical claims without extensive clinical trials.” Powers adjusted her message and applied again, and was denied due to incomplete labeling of ingredients.
Powers was ready to give up when she met some new neighbors, one of whom was an attorney familiar with VDACS applications. He lent a helping hand in navigating the bureaucracy. Two years later, Teddy’s Turmeric Tamer was finally approved, licensed and registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“I know it’s not a miracle cure, and that it won’t make a difference for every animal. But I can tell you that many friends have tried it and found wonderful results for their pets, even if just an energy or appetite boost.” Powers sells Teddy’s Turmeric Tamer on her website. It’s also stocked in Nature’s Nibbles Hollin Hall and Del Ray stores. Owner Chris Gabriel displays it with other natural remedies, such as alternatives to chondroitin and glucosamine, and CBD oils. He has sold about a dozen containers of the tamer so far.
Powers next step is getting the tamer approved by the FDA. She and her husband take it every day to combat inflammation. She has friends who take it and have found relief from tennis elbow, gout, and other inflammation problems. Powers said it’s similar to many pain-relieving products on the market, but going through FDA certification is sure to be as tricky as navigating VDACS. She’d like to test Teddy’s Turmeric Tamer through clinical trials and wants to move her pending patent forward.
Powers knows she also needs help with sales, marketing, inventory management, and funding. She’s not ready to make her pitch on Shark Tank just yet, but says, “It’s a matter of money and time. What I really need is a company or investor to take me to the next level. Honestly, it’s like another full-time job. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn.”