After Brandon Price’s mother returned from a trip to Alaska, she talked about the arthritis relief she experienced after she soaked in some of the state’s hot springs.
“Boy, I wish I could put that in my hot tub,” Price remembers his mom saying.
So he set out to make something that would let her do just that.
A former high school science teacher who had some chemistry experience under his belt, Price and his wife Julie decided to analyze the chemical makeup of hot springs in Alaska, Yellowstone, Idaho, Montana, Costa Rica, Iceland and other places. Then they planned to get those minerals for his mom’s hot tub and let her soak at leisure.
At the urging of some friends who lauded some of the mixtures developed by the couple, the Prices decided to go commercial and now have a product sold in some stores and on their recently launched website.
“Finally, five years later, we’ve figured this all out and packaged it so you could turn your bathtub or hot tub into these world-famous springs,” Brandon said.
The Helena company, called Medicine Springs, offers three types of hot springs soaks. One of the mixes targets joint pain. One that mimics the makeup of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland targets skin therapy. The last mix is for sports recovery and mimics the chemical makeup of a hot spring in Costa Rica where tribal warriors used to soak to recover after battles.
The chemical makeups were identified either by taking a water sample and sending it to a lab for analysis or by looking up studies that had already parsed out the recipe.
But the Prices discovered the hard way that it’s not as easy as stirring together all the minerals and dumping the mixture into some water.
When they combined the minerals and let the mixture sit, the package ended up bubbling over and spewing byproduct everywhere.
Now each Mineral Springs box comes with a couple of small silver packets with labels that a user tears open and dumps into the water. When those minerals mix in the hut tub or bathtub, they recreate the reaction that causes bubbles in a hot spring.
Though treatment in hot springs is something that’s been around for thousands of years, Brandon said it’s backed by science.
When someone sits in hot water, their blood vessels rise closer to the surface of the skin. Certain substances can pass through skin, and when the hot springs minerals do so they are absorbed right into the bloodstream.
“You’re essentially providing the healing minerals directly to the place that they’re needed,” he said.
The minerals mainly provide relief that lasts longer, depending on how long you soak. After repeated soaking, his mom has found relief from some of her arthritis symptoms for a couple of days, he said.
The Prices said that because they were able to preserve the reaction that takes place in a natural hot springs, Medicine Springs is the first company to offer a product of its kind. And that means room for growth.
“I think it has huge potential,” Brandon said.
The product is sold in Helena at the Real Food Store and through Seattle-based Olympic Hot Tub. They said CVS expressed some interest, but Medicine Springs is still too small for them to pick it up.
Right now the Prices are still packaging the Medicine Springs mixes by hand, using measuring spoons and a heat sealer at home.
Once business takes off, they said a company that does all the packaging for McCormick Seasoning is lined up to take over.
Despite the company’s size, there have been a few promising signals of interest. Some professional athletes tested out the sports mix, but found the relief didn’t meet the longevity they were hoping for after a quick soak.
Just last week they received a message from actress Sophia Bush and shipped her some samples.
It hasn’t been easy to getting to this point, and the couple said they’re proud of what they accomplished.
“We really had no idea when we started this how long it would take to get his far,” Julie said.
Now they’re already looking at next steps, including a potential rub-on version.
What all began as a venture to help Brandon’s mom is now a company that has huge potential after some marketing.
“They say some of the best things come out of necessity, and that’s what we're hoping we did,” Brandon said.