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Vocal spray leads to new business for ’84 grad

Gina (Summers) Emerson ’84 didn’t intend to start her own company when she went looking for a natural, organic vocal spray. The person who had previously formulated one for her was retiring, so she turned to Rob Pappas ’85, Ph.D., a chemist with expertise in essential oils formulations. She had been reading about the benefits of CBD oil and followed his research on his blog for his company, Essential Oils University. She asked if he could create a spray combining CBD oil and essential oils.

After several different attempts and few “silly” names, Emerson said, the patented spray Vocal Gold, which contains 200 milligrams of full spectrum hemp extract, was born. Emerson was so impressed she asked him to create more formulations for her and in August started the company Dew Drops CBD to share them with the public.

Emerson said she wanted to add CBD oil to her vocal spray because she had read it helped reduce inflammation. As the lead singer in several local cover bands, she sometimes had to deal with strained vocal chords. And she was taking medication that dried her throat. The spray helped with those problems – and a few other unexpected benefits, from helping calm her nerves before going on stage to improving her health.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Emerson said of the vocal spray. “It’s not only helping with vocal chords, it’s helping with colds and coughs. It’s great for allergies. It’s better than we anticipated.”

Emerson said that in the few weeks her business has been up and running, she has built a client base of more than 100 people. Some Vocal Gold users have seen relief from acid reflux and irritation from radiation from throat cancer treatments.

The company must not claim that its products have any specific health benefits, per FDA rules. But clients using Dew Drops flavored CBD oil drops have seen benefits such as relief from anxiety and insomnia. The Royal Blue Super A.I., for anti-inflammatory, helps with chronic pain and inflammation. There even is a formula for dogs that has helped with seizures and anxiety from storms.

Emerson said she was compelled to start her own business after Pappas’ formulations helped her with her own health. She was on several medications for conditions from osteoporosis to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After taking the essential oil/CBD oil formulations, she no longer needs any medications and her positive energy has returned.

“I’m off everything,” she said. “I tell Rob, ‘You’re my hero. You saved my life.’ Because he did.”

Pappas is an independent consultant formulator supplying the formulations for Dew Drops CBD. He uses a carbon dioxide extraction process to extract the “beneficial cannabinoids” from certified organic hemp without leaving any solvents behind, he said.

He began adding CBD oil to his essential oils formulations about five years after reading about its benefits, from controlling seizures to treating cancer.

“It just seems to have a lot of beneficial properties,” he said.

There are restrictions in the industry, including keeping the THC level in the hemp products below 0.3 percent, and those restrictions as well as restrictions in the banking industry put up some hurdles, but Emerson is moving forward because she has witnessed the products helping herself and others.

She has left her previous job as a certified medical assistant and focuses full-time on running her new company. She has a handful of employees and several partners, including alumni Marty Shireman ’78, Kim Karem LaPilusa ’84, and Beth (Crone) Jones ’84, among others.

The products are bottled and labeled in a warehouse in Greenville and sold online, and plans are in the works for a downtown New Albany store to open in a couple months.

Emerson said she is going on faith – and belief in her products.

“I’d never in my 53 years would have thought if somebody came up to me and said, ‘Gina, you’re going to own a CBD company,’ I’d believe them,” she said. “I’d have laughed in your face. But God has a plan for everything.”

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