Detox & Cleansing

Every now and then it’s important to cleanse our bodies of foods and toxins that can clutter up our bodies and keep us from optimal health. Natural cleansing methods abound at Pharmaca, from naturally detoxifying herbs to fiber that helps remove toxins more quickly. Many experts recommend detox cleansing on a regular basis, using natural detox methods that include eating whole foods, drinking plenty of water and aiding the process with natural herbs and supplements. If you’re confused about how and when to detox, find an ever-expanding collection of detox tips at Project Wellness. We’ll continue to gather natural cleansing suggestions from our practitioners.

  • Get Inspired by our Practitioners’ Healthy Resolutions!

    Get the year started on a healthy note with these smart goals for the new year.

    HF VitamineralGreen 300g Go green
    "Starting the day off with powdered greens is a great habit to get in to. It’s very simple and can help with digestion, detoxing, everything! Try adding Healthforce Nutritionals’ Vitamineral Green to your first glass of water.”-Anne, Herbalist, La Jolla


    Pastilles Try a new way to destress
    “A lot of people are interested in aromatherapy right now, especially Aloha Bay’s Chakra Candles, as well as Pharmaca’s Becalm Lavender, a soothing blend of lavender, orange and geranium. And Rescue Remedy Pastilles are good for everyone in need of a safe way to stay calm, even kids.”-Sarah, ND, West Seattle



     BioS_006_BOX CAPS_080210.indd Nourish your skin from the inside
    “I can’t live without Natural Factors’ Biosil. It can bring your hair back to life, it helps with fine lines and wrinkles…when you take it regularly in combination with omega-7s, it’s like a mini facelift!”-Tammara, Esthetician, Greenwood Village


    M_CranberryEnzymeMask Use a facial mask once a week
    “I read an article by a skin care guru that said that consistent at-home care of your skin can do so much to help skin look good and put off the need for professional interventions. So I’m going to start with Sanitas’ Cranberry Enzyme Mask!”-Mary Catherine, Lifestyles Buyer


     RawCleanse Clean up your diet
    “Start the new year by detoxing from the inside out! Learn which foods might be contributing to inflammation, low energy, foggy thinking, extra pounds. Talk to our practitioners about healthier food choices and cleansing supplements. And follow that up with yoga, hiking and getting outdoors more!”-Shizandra, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Sonoma


  • Glass, Metal, Plastic? Choosing the Right Water Bottle

    WaterDrop_484x484You know proper hydration is critical in maintaining great health and strong immunity. Water’s multitude of benefits includes increased metabolism, boosts in energy, healthy, glowing skin, and optimal brain and kidney function (and pretty much every other organ in your body!).

    Meeting the recommended 91 oz per day intake of fluids, however, can be a challenge. To get started on the path to better hydration, make sure you’re keeping fluids accessible at all times by getting into the habit of keeping a refillable water bottle nearby.

    When it comes to selecting a bottle, the market is saturated with options. From body construction (plastic, aluminum, steel, glass) to lid technology (widemouth, straw sippers, attached caps and loop-handled tops) and insulation (single-wall to triple-wall insulation), you’ll find an endless variety of brands and features to consider. To simplify your search, we’ve created a list of qualities to consider when picking out your bottle, helping to ensure you’ll find exactly what you need to stay hydrated in the new year.

    1. Easy drinking. Think about your preferred drinking method, and make it as convenient as possible to hydrate properly—would you be more likely to drink through a straw or traditional cap? Though most bottles offer lids with a standard spout, Lifefactory bottles offer a straw top option. (Fun fact: Studies have shown that drinking through a straw can help increase water intake with each sip). Also, look for leak-proof caps to prevent spills—crucial for your bag or near your laptop.
    1. Safety first. You’ve likely heard of concerns over bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used to make food storage products—including disposable water bottles—since the 1960s. This potentially harmful chemical is thought to leach into water from the packaging source; fortunately, water bottles made with BPA are rare these days (and you’ll only find BPA-free water bottles at and in our stores). Still concerned about plastic? Lifefactory bottles are made with glass to eliminate worries and preserve taste, and are encased in a silicon sleeve for non-slip handling and breakage prevention.
    1. Portability and packability. Consider how and where you’ll be toting your bottle. For use at your desk, a larger 22 oz or 1 L bottle will keep you hydrated throughout the day. For stashing in your purse or pack, Lifefactory offers a smaller 9 oz version of its glass silicon-sleeved bottle—perfect for errand-running or a short outing.Would a handle make you more likely to carry your bottle with you? Lifefactory’s loop bottle cap fits on its 22 and 16 oz bottles, making it easy to carry or attach to a backpack. And if you’ve challenged yourself to increase your water intake significantly, try the 2.2 L Enviro Bottle to hold your entire daily water requirement. The Enviro is perfect for a New Year’s cleanse, long workouts, a day at the beach or camping trips. This hefty bottle also features an attached cap (no more lost caps!), a nylon carry strap for over-the shoulder carrying and a jumbo handle for easy mobility. (Find it in Pharmaca stores).
    1. For the kiddos. To survive around little ones, this bottle has to pass the kid test: leak-proof, spill-proof, shatter-proof—essentially, bombproof. That’s where Kid Basix’s stainless steel Sippy Bottle2 comes in, featuring handles for two-handed holding, a wide and stable base, dust cap to keep the spout clean, nubbed sleeve for no-slip grip, leak-proof and spill-proof construction, and—best of all—a lid that converts from sippy to straw, for when your child decides it’s time to drink like the big kids. For even younger sippers, the Lifefactory Glass Baby Bottle provides a clean taste without the worry, in 4 oz and 9 oz versions.
    1. Let’s face it—looks matter. Earthlust’s food-grade stainless steel bottles are available in a range of cool, eye-catching graphics, making them stand out from the crowd. Choose from geometric designs, animal graphics (we like the cool matte black 1 L stallion and the 13 oz parakeet bottles), colorful insects or botanical collections.
    1. Hot and cold. Water bottle technology has advanced significantly, allowing liquids to stay hot or cold for extended periods of time. Pharmaca’s Triple Insulated Hot & Cold Beverage Bottle is great for keeping your coffee hot for up to 8 hours, and features a removable strainer for coffee and tea. It’s even great for soup! But that’s not all—this multi-use bottle also keeps cold drinks cold for up to 36 hours, and the wide mouth easily accommodates ice cubes. The attachable cap makes it easy to prevent lost lids.
  • Kick Off the New Year With a Cleanse!

    featIMGWhy should I consider a cleanse?
    Cleansing can help reduce cravings for unhealthy food and set you up for good eating habits in the new year. Cleansing can also help reduce inflammation, enhance immune function, improve energy and boost overall health. So get the year started off right by breaking those bad eating habits. Who knows—you may even shed a few pounds in the process!

    How do I start?
    First off, eliminate three important toxic offenders: sugar, processed foods and alcohol. A diet heavy in these three can lead to diabetes, weight gain and cardiovascular disease, and can be a toxic burden on your liver. Getting rid of them allows your liver to focus on clearing out old toxins rather than processing current ones.

    Next, add these cleansing foods to your shopping list: Brazil nuts, blueberries, broccoli, parsley, cilantro, onions, sesame seeds, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, beets, basil, fennel, avocados, cucumber, hemp, green tea, kale, lemons, olive oil, dandelion leaves, flaxseeds, cabbage, apple, almonds, seaweed, asparagus, artichoke and turmeric.

    Finally, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. Many metabolic waste processes need water to function, and water is critical to flush out toxins. In other words? Make water your go-to drink. You can also sip on your favorite herbal tea, or try one that’s meant for cleanses such as Gaia Herbs’ Cleanse and Detox Tea that nourishes the liver and digestive system—and tastes good, too!

    What can I do to support my body’s efforts?
    Pharmaca offers a variety of supplements that can help support your cleanse.

    Thorne Research’s Basic Detox Nutrients is a complete multivitamin with daily detoxifying extras such as green tea, milk thistle, curcumin, broccoli and dandelion.

    Vital Nutrients’ Detox Formula is a unique blend of amino acids and herbs that’ support detoxification, liver and immune function.

    Natural Factors’ Detoxitech Detoxification and Cellular Cleansing features a blend of antioxidants and phytochemicals that support natural detoxification processes and assist in elimination of environmental chemicals and heavy metals.

    Pharmaca’s Liver Cleanse Booster includes herbs that support liver function and cleansing.

    Herb Pharm’s Herbal Detox Compound is a simple but potent herbal detox tincture that’s easy to take even on the go.

    Gaia Herbs’ Liver Cleanse is a proprietary herbal blend to help support and nourish the liver and promote bile production.

  • Simple Steps to a Healthy Cleanse

    It happens every year: We overindulge around the holidays and by January we’re desperate to give our systems a break from heavy foods and sugary treats. If your body is telling you to ditch the junk food and give it a break, listen to it.

    “It’s best to go with the flow of how you feel,” says Ben Stoops, herbalist at our Santa Fe store. That means giving your body a rest from all of the processed foods and environmental toxins we contend with. Our liver can’t keep up with filtering all those toxins, and can quickly become overburdened—a state that Stoops feels can lead to certain types of cancer, hypothyroidism, increased allergies and asthma, and more.

    So where to start? “A couple weeks of a reasonably slow detox is appropriate,” Ben says. “Aim for a diet of fiber-rich foods, more fruits and veggies, and fewer high-protein foods.” Eat foods that are less processed, less cooked and more fibrous—that’s the rule of thumb, he says.

    He adds that fortifying supplements such as multis, fish oils or adaptogenic herbs can run contrary to a detox program, since your body is trying to rid itself of damaged cells and needs a break from a lot of new cell building. “A good detox may block the absorption of these supplements anyway,” says Ben, who recommends leaving them out during the course of the cleanse.

    Instead, swap in supplements that can help activate the liver, like milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke leaf and Oregon grape. And make sure you get enough soluble fiber—if you don’t, Stoops says, the toxins won’t come out naturally through your bowel movements, and can instead end up pushing through your skin and causing breakouts, rashes and even eczema. Save time, Ben says, with a cleanse kit that includes both fiber and those liver-supportive herbs, such as Renew Life’s Organic Total Body Cleanse.

    Ben’s final recommendations: Sip on a tea made from dandelion leaf throughout the cleanse, drink plenty of water and “do lots of sweating!” Both sweating and Epsom salt baths help to encourage healthy toxin elimination, he says.

  • A Little Help for Your New Year's Resolutions

    Have some healthy goals for your 2011? Whether you’re hoping to detox, de-stress, or just de-compress this year, we got some expert tips from Karin DiGiacomo, Wellness Counselor at our La Jolla location. Here's what Karin says:

    Resolution: Lose weight
    Most people benefit from a detoxification program to prepare their bodies for losing weight. Homeopathic Heel Detox Kit is gently effective. Throughout the first month take these drops to eliminate toxins and stimulate cleansing of liver, kidney, blood and lymphatic systems. If you’re looking for a more vigorous, quicker program, Natural Factors RevitalX or Detoxitech may be suitable. I also recommend a detox tea, like Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox because it’s slightly diuretic.

    After the detox, you can turn to Natural Factors PGX to support glucose management and curb appetite. Depending on a variety of factors, homeopathic Lobelia from Boiron can also cut cravings, while Pharmaca’s Hoodia works as an herbal appetite suppressant (traditionally used by Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert when food is scarce).

    Resolution: Reduce stress
    I like Hyland Nerve Tonic, a homeopathic formula with phosphates that effectively supports nervous system health. Look for Pharmaca brand essential oils like Lemongrass for giving fresh energy and Perfect Harmony, a blend of oils that includes emotion-calming clary sage. If you’re experiencing adrenal burnout as a result of stress, look for adaptogenic herbs like soothing-yet-invigorating Rhodiola (I like Gaia Herbs or New Chapter). To better manage stressful situations, introduce Bach Flower Essences (e.g. Vervain or Elm) or Rescue Remedy to defuse tension.

    Resolution: Increase brain power
    Pharmaca offers a number of options for brain nutrients and balancers to enhance cognitive function and long-term and short-term memory. I like Bluebonnet Power Thought, which contains a number of cognitive enhancers like phosphatidyl serine and choline, gingko and taurine. On the homeopathic side, Heel Cerecomp helps with mental fatigue and better focus. Getting good rest is important, so if the problem is a disruption of circadian rhythm, try Melatonin. If the problem is not day/night rhythm but general anxiety, I recommend Source Naturals GABA or Boiron Sedalia, which helps calm the mind and relieves nervous tension. Pharmaca also offers plenty of ways to help keep those other resolutions, whether it’s making sure your household cleaning products are non-toxic and eco-friendly or your cosmetics bag is filled with all-natural beauty products.

    Your resolution not here? Pharmaca also offers plenty of ways to help keep those other resolutions, whether it’s making sure your household cleaning products are non-toxic and eco-friendly or your cosmetics bag is filled with all-natural beauty products. Stop in and speak with a practitioner today!

  • Hangover Helpers

    While nothing ushers in the New Year like a tall glass of bubbly, it’s also true that nothing hurts quite like the morning after. We spoke with Sheila Devitt, a certified herbalist and lead practitioner at our San Francisco store, for some suggestions on preparing and restoring your body after you’ve had a few too many.

    Plan ahead
    The typical hangover feeling occurs because your body experiences a low level of toxicity after consuming alcohol. The main product of alcohol metabolism is acetaldehyde, which is responsible for causing free radical damage throughout the body. Fortunately, research has shown that antioxidants like vitamins C and E and the amino acid cysteine can help work against these free radicals.

    For people who want to be proactive in their approach to avoiding hangovers, Sheila suggests Source Naturals Hangover Formula. This supplement is full of free radical fighting–antioxidants as well as Chinese and western herbs that help reduce alcohol’s negative effects on the body.

    Ease symptoms
    The first rule for any miserable morning after is to turn to the tap. Drink plenty of water to combat dehydration and, while you’re at it, Sheila recommends adding a vitamin-mineral packet like Emergen-C or UltimaReplenisher. These formulas help rehydrate quicker and add electrolytes.

    To lessen headaches and other pain, Sheila likes Rainbow Light’s Pain-Eze, a combination of herbs, vitamins and minerals formulated to relieve all types of pain. “I also really like aromatherapy, which works really well for headaches,” says Sheila. Aroma MD’s Body Soother blend can help, she says, or Pharmaca’s Rosemary, Peppermint and Lavender essential oils. For alcohol-related nausea, she suggests a homeopathic remedy like Nux Vomica.

    Support recovery
    While you may not feel the damaging effects of too much alcohol on the liver, it’s still important to support its detoxifying abilities. “Take a good B-complex vitamin,” says Sheila. “B vitamins have a lot to do with how the liver gets toxins out of the bloodstream.” Since alcohol consumption disrupts the absorption of B vitamins, it’s important to replace these nutrients. She recommends Pharmaca’s Vitamin B Stress Formula as an extra boost the next morning.

    Sheila also advocates for Milk Thistle as a powerful liver-helping herb. She suggests tinctures like Pharmaca’s Milk Thistle Extract or Liver Detox Liquid, which are great for increasing liver function. “Take this any time you’ve had too much to drink since you’re asking your liver to work hard,” says Sheila, who says you can also take Milk Thistle ahead of time to prepare your body.

    For more advice on combating the aches and pains that accompany a night of overindulgence, speak with a practitioner at any Pharmaca location.

  • Improving Colon Health with Okra


    Though not many of us want to talk about it, the colon is a vital organ. When the colon is damaged and does not function to its fullest potential, serious health problems can occur. If you're not thrilled with the idea of a colonic or some other type of colon cleanse, then consider this natural alternative for boosting colon health: Lady Finger. More commonly known as okra, Chinese okra, bindi or bamia, it’s not only delicious but it’s also easy to prepare. Okra provides numerous health benefits to your body, and especially to your colon.

    Lady Finger is a great source of important vitamins and minerals that naturally improve colon health. Some of the powerhouse nutrients found in Chinese okra include vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, selenium, manganese and zinc.

    Let's discuss what Lady Finger specifically does to improve colon health. Chinese okra releases a dietary fiber that’s able to clean out the gastrointestinal system, which can easily become clogged with fats, carbohydrates, cholesterol, toxins, bacteria and other harmful substances. By cleaning out the intestinal tract, okra can improve colon health by simply allowing it to work more efficiently.

    Additional benefits of okra? It's fat free, low in calories and high in fiber. But okra can do so much more than improve colon health. The health benefits of okra include reducing the risk of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer.

    Interesting tidbit: The edible part of the flowering plant (or okra) is long and tapered, resembling a woman's fingers, thus giving it its name. Lady Finger was originally only found in Africa, but is now grown all over the world.

    To learn more about natural remedies to various diseases and conditions, please consult a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Detox Dos and Don'ts

    Our bodies are exposed to environmental toxins every day by sources ranging from the air we breathe to the food we eat. In order to reduce the build-up of unhealthy chemicals in your system, consider trying a detoxification program or “cleanse.” Benefits of cleansing include stimulating the liver to remove stored toxins and promoting elimination of them through the intestines, kidneys, and skin.

    Chris Turf, a registered pharmacist and certified herbalist at the Pharmaca in South Boulder, recommends cleansing your body every spring. “Most programs call for reducing dietary toxins from alcohol, coffee, tobacco, refined sugars and saturated fats and avoiding exposure to synthetic and petroleum-based toxins as the first steps,” says Chris.

    Pharmaca carries a variety of guided detoxification kits like Zand Herbals Quick Cleanse and Heel Detox homeopathic oral drops, with time frames ranging from 7 to 30 days in length. “The best programs last for at least two weeks,” says Dr. Lisa Ow, a naturopathic physician at Pharmaca’s Monterey store. Her absolute favorite is the Supreme Cleanse by Gaia Herbs which provides daily routine and dietary suggestions along with five herbal supplements.

    Chris encourages people to take a probiotic for immunity support during detox, as people sometimes catch colds due to the stress and toxin release. He also notes that cleanses can aid in weight loss as you eat less during most programs and clear out toxins that might slow the weight loss process. However, it shouldn’t be your main motivation for detoxification.

    "If you are on medications, be careful,” says Dr. Ow. Many detox programs include fiber supplements which can decrease the effectiveness of prescription therapy. She also advises against detoxification for anyone who is feeling weak due to conditions like cancer or a long term infection. Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid cleansing to prevent the release of toxins into their bloodstream or milk. “It’s not a good time to detox if your body needs to be nourished,” she says.

    For most people, taking the time to support your system by cleansing can reduce the impact of small, daily chemical accumulations.

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