Travel & First Aid

  • Essential Herbs for Summer First Aid

    BoyonbeachSummer's not over yet...and neither are our outdoor activities! To get some insight into unique herbal remedies for the bumps and bruises, stings and scrapes that come with outdoor fun, we turned to Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, and member of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board.

    What should I stock in my herbal first aid kit?  

    Choose what you need in your herbal first aid kit based upon where you live, how you live and who lives with you! Here are the basics that most of us should keep around the house:

    • Calendula salve for skin irritations and rashes
    • Arnica salve or tincture for bruises, strains and sprain
    • Oregon grape root or goldenseal tincture—a powerhouse antimicrobial that can be used internally or topically
    • Echinacea tincture and/or elderberry syrup for colds and upper respiratory infections
    • Slippery elm lozenges for sore throat and occasional heartburn
    • Bentonite or French clay for insect bites
    • Witch hazel extract for bug bites and swelling
    • Grindelia tincture for poison ivy/oak and for chest congestion
    • Tea tree oil for fungal infections
    • California poppy tincture for use as a mild sedative and pain relief
    • A variety of herbal teas (e.g. chamomile for tension, ginger for nausea or upset stomach, peppermint for colds, etc.).

    Other first aid essentials: acetaminophen for pain, diphenhydramine for allergic reactions, tweezers for removing splinters, oatmeal and baking soda for itchy skin, and an assortment of bandages, gauze pads, etc.

    What herbs are safe for babies and children? 

    If you have children in the house, make sure that you keep some remedies that are appropriate for their age. Chamomile, for example, soothes a fussy 2 year old or can ease crampy diarrhea in a 5 year old; slippery elm lozenges can soothe sore throats; honey can reduce coughs in children over a year; and echinacea glycerite (an alcohol-free version) and elderberry syrup are good for colds and coughs, etc.

    Remember, any child under the age of two months who appears ill should be seen by a qualified health care professional. You can also find extensive information on safely and effectively treating children and adults at home in my book, Healthy at Home—as well as information about when you should seek medical care!

    Give us your go-to herbs in the summer for the following

    Insect bites. French or bentonite clay mixed with a little water to make a paste—apply to bite and then cover with cloth or plastic wrap for 30-45 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times per day if needed. Witch hazel extract can also be applied as a compress to the bite.

    Poison ivy and poison oak. Grindelia tincture is hands down my favorite treatment. It can be applied directly to affected area, or you can mix 1 teaspoon in 1/4 cup of witch hazel extract and then apply (repeat as needed).

    You can also make an oatmeal bath to soothe skin: Whirl 4 cups of oatmeal in blender or coffee grinder until powdered, then add 1/2 cup baking soda. Put in a cloth bag, sock or pantyhose and throw in bathtub of cool water and soak. You can also make a compress out of the oatmeal/baking soda blend and apply topically to the affected area.

    Scrapes and bruises. For scrapes, wash with soap and water to remove any debris. If necessary, you can get extra antimicrobial protection by rinsing the cut with either of the following: Dilute 5 ml of Oregon grape root or goldenseal tincture in 50 ml of water, OR dilute 60 drops tea tree oil in 1 ounce water. Calendula ointment can then be applied and the cut can be covered with an appropriate bandage. For strains, sprains or bruises (not an open cut), arnica salve or tincture is the best you will find.

    Earaches from swimming. If you’re prone to getting swimmer’s ear, use this remedy to prevent infection (Caution: Don’t use this if your ears are already hurting, because the alcohol will burn). Mix 1 oz rubbing alcohol and 1 oz white vinegar in a jar (mark EXTERNAL USE ONLY!). Apply 2 to 3 drops of room temperature mixture in each ear after swimming or showering. The alcohol will effectively remove the water, while the acidity in the vinegar prevents bacteria from growing.

    Sunburn. You can use aloe vera topically, but one of my other favorites is to make a strong pot of green tea, let cool, and apply to the sunburn every 3-4 hours. Prevention is the best remedy here, however. Wear a hat, protective clothing and/or safe sunscreen!

    For more first aid advice, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Your Pre-Travel Checklist

    Traveling-HealthWhether you're piling in the minivan to visit family or jetting overseas, a little prep work—and stocking up on essentials—can make traveling a breeze this summer.

    Check to see if you need vaccinations
    Many international destinations require or recommend travel immunizations. A Pharmaca pharmacist can help you identify which vaccinations you need based on your destination, and administer them in the store.

    Our pharmacists can also give you information on other safety and health considerations at your destination. Just call ahead to request your pre-travel consultation and vaccines a few days ahead of time. Learn more about pre-travel vaccinations at Pharmaca >

    Stock your travel first aid kit
    Getting sick when you're away from home can be no fun. Dr. Sarah Ouano, ND, at our Madison Park store in Seattle, talks about the travel essentials she often recommends.

    "The biggest thing in travel is prepping your body for new foods," Sarah says. That's where probiotics come in. She recommends Saccharomyces Boulardii, a strain that has been shown to prevent traveler's diarrhea; Jarrow Formulas' version is especially helpful, she says, because it combines the strain with MOS, an oligosaccharide that helps remove bad bacteria.

    She also recommends giving yourself a little immunity boost while traveling, especially if you're going to be on crowded planes and trains. "My favorite thing right now is Kick-Ass Immune from WishGarden Herbs," Sarah says.

    If you're prone to motion sickness or nausea, Sarah loves Ginger People's Ginger Chews. "They're spicy, which is what's helpful for the stomach," she says. "You need the punch in the mouth to get the salivation going." She also likes to keep WishGarden Herbs' Mo Betta Belly on hand. "It helps with anything digestively, since it's chock full of carminitives like peppermint, ginger, fennel and catnip."

    For jet lag, Sarah recommends a combination homeopathic remedy like Miers Laboratories' No Jet Lag, which can help reset your circadian rhythm when taken throughout your flight. Later, when you're headed for bed, Sarah recommends Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc. "You do have to take it as directed—one hour before bed and one at bedtime," she says. "But it will knock you out throughout the night!"

    Pack some healthy snacks
    Leave the temptation of candy and soda behind when you keep healthy, satisfying snacks on hand. Natural energy bars, refreshing coconut waters and organic trail mixes are the perfect pick-me-up when a healthy meal is out of reach. And for a sweet treat, grab one of our delicious Pharmaca brand Chocolate Bars, Rainforest Alliance and non-GMO certified.

    Talk to a Pharmaca practitioner about the best supplements and strategies for your destination!

  • Travel First Aid: Help for Every Travel Ailment

    Traveling-HealthThe new sights, the sunny beaches, the great food…Travel can be exciting, but even the most experienced travelers need a little help now and then. Here’s our roundup of common travel ailments—and natural remedies that can get you back to enjoying your vacation!

    The Problem: Jet lag

    It happens when we fly across different time zones, causing a disruption in our sleep/wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm). Changing time zones rapidly can cause disruptions in falling asleep, staying asleep or staying awake.

    The Solutions

    Melatonin is the hormone our bodies make to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, so taking  extra in a supplement form may help to reset the sleep/wake cycle disrupted from jet lag. Research has shown that melatonin can aid sleep at times when you wouldn’t normally be sleeping. Good brands to try include Source Naturals, Natural Factors, Jarrow Formulas and Pharmaca. Regular doses usually range between 1-5mg.

    NO-JET-LAG (from Miers Laboratory) is a well-loved and trusted homeopathic travel companion. It is safe, easy to take and has been proven effective in tests. A blend of five homeopathic remedies (arnica, daisy, chamomile, ipecac and lycopodium) helps counter the effects of pressure changes and the debilitating effects of long flights.

    The Problem: Travel anxiety

    Many people experience anxiety around travel, whether it’s fear of flying, fear of where you are going, changing your regular daily routine, fear of leaving home or missing loved ones and animals.

    The Solutions

    L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea that supports mental calmness and relaxation by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain. L-theanine assists the alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation, without any drowsiness. Brands to try include Source Naturals, Jarrow Formulas and Natural Factors.

    Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Essences is a gentle formula to help center your emotions when you’re experiencing situational distress. Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower essences that assist with emotional stress from illness, fright, injury, travel fatigue and irritation.

    Emotional Ally by WishGarden Herbs is formulated to help you cope with temporary anxiety, restlessness and irritability. With herbs like passionflower, skullcap and motherwort, it helps you to re-center yourself and feel relief from travel anxiety.


    The Problem: Motion sickness

    Also known as travel, car, sea or airsickness, it happens when visually perceived motion is different from your vestibular system’s sense of movement. The most common symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

    The Solutions

    PSI Bands are adjustable wristbands that apply acupressure to help relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Acupressure works by stimulating the body’s self-curative abilities.

    Ginger can help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try New Chapter’s Ginger Force or Jarrow Formulas, Herb Pharm or Pharmaca brand Ginger.

    Peppermint can also help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try Herb Pharm’s Breath Tonic or Enzymatic Therapy’s Peppermint Plus.

    Homeopathic Gelsemium Sempervire 30c is also indicated in motion sickness.


    The Problem: Travelers’ Diarrhea

    This one is common for a few reasons—one being that you are simply drinking water you’re not used to drinking. Another reason may be that the water is not thoroughly treated at your destination. The microbial balance in the digestive tract may be easily disturbed during travel, so it’s important to plan ahead and supplement with probiotics to give the immune and digestive tract a head start.

    The Solutions

    Start taking a good probiotic a few weeks before your departure to build up healthy colonies of friendly flora. Some specific probiotic strains are more effective at helping with travelers’ diarrhea, but remember that many probiotic formulas require refrigeration. Try Florastor, made with S. boulardii, Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS or Dr. Ohirra’s—all of which are excellent products that do not require refrigeration.

    If possible, stick with bottled water from a trusted supplier, and use methods of sterilization when necessary (i.e. plan ahead for boiling, water cleansing tabs or filtration).

    The Problem: Decreased Immunity

    Cramped airplanes and foreign bacteria can take advantage of anyone’s immune system. That’s why it’s a good idea to start building your immunity several weeks before your trip.

    The Solutions

    WishGarden Herbs’ Kick-Ass Immune is formulated to activate a healthy immune response and emphasizes respiratory health, which is especially important when flying in airplanes. It’s handy for travel in 1 or 2 oz sizes.

    Perfect Immune by New Chapter is a probiotic, whole-food multivitamin that provides comprehensive support for immune and natural defenses.

    New Chapter LifeShield Immunity is an awesome blend of medicinal mushrooms packed with beta glucans that help potentiate and modulate the immune system.

    Also, don’t forget to wash your hands often and disinfect when traveling. I like sanitizers by CleanWell, EO and Dr. Bronner’s.


    The Problem: Sunburn

    Because travel destinations are often at a higher elevation, near water, closer to the equator or sunnier than where you are coming from, sunburn can be inevitable. Make sure you wear a hat, stay out of the sun during peak hours and reapply a good mineral sunscreen. And if you do get burnt, here are ways to beat the heat.

    The Solutions

    To treat sunburn, try All Terrain’s Aloe Gel Skin Relief with healing herbs, Boericke and Tafel’s Califlora Calendula Gel or Boiron’s First Aid Calendula Lotion. And after being out in the sun all day, remember to stay hydrated with electrolytes. Coconut water is an easy way to get them, but Ultima Replenisher or Trace Minerals’ Electrolyte Stamina are powdered electrolyte drink mixes that are great for travel.

    The Problem: Sleeplessness

    Whether it’s jet lag or loud hotel neighbors, there are a variety of ways to combat sleeplessness.

    The Solutions

    Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep Tonic is an herbal blend with valerian, sold in a small 1 oz bottle that’s convenient for travel.

    Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc. is designed to help with difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or for low-quality sleep.

    Sleep Formula by Pharmaca, containing melatonin, 5HTP and L-theanine, has worked well for many people.

    Magnesium is great to take before bed to promote relaxation and calmness. Try Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm, Pure Essence’s Ionic Fizz or Kal’s Magnesium Glycinate.

    You may also want to try an eye mask and/or earplugs to block out unwanted sounds or sights. The Bucky Forty Blinks Eye Mask is one of my favorites because it’s contoured to relieve pressure against the eyes.


    The Problem: Digestive issues

    Different foods, whether they’re too rich or just something you’re not used to eating, can also play a big part in the health of your digestive system.

    The Solutions

    Chewable Papaya Enzymes help promote healthy digestion by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins. Try Pharmaca brand or Natural Factors’ Chewable Papaya Enzymes. (Plus they’re delicious!)

    Bring along more potent digestive enzymes in case you’re headed somewhere where you know the food is more challenging for your digestion. I like Megazymes by MegaFood, Digest Gold or Digest Spectrum by Enzymedica, Advanced Enzyme System by Rainbow Light or Complete Digestion by Enzyme Science.

    Probiotics are always recommended when traveling to promote a healthy immune system and optimal digestion (see Traveler’s Diarrhea for shelf-stable recommendations). Begin taking probiotics a few weeks before travel to allow time for colonization in the gut. A belly with a powerful amount of microbial flora will protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses, helping you to stay strong and healthy during your travels.

    WishGarden Digestive Bitters can help balance the pH of the stomach and ease an acidic tummy. Supports healthy digestive response and enzymes.

    Hyland’s Upset Stomach is a homeopathic, charcoal-based formula designed to relieve gas and bloating from overeating or improper diet. Safe for adults and children.

    UrgentRx Heartburn Relief comes in pocket-sized packets designed for easy transport, featuring 1000 mg of calcium carbonate for fast-acting relief of heartburn, acidic stomach and acid indigestion on the go, with or without liquid.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for solutions to travel problems not listed here.

  • Natural Strategies for Fighting Poison Ivy

    Hiking- Outdoors- Natural remedies5 things you need to know to prevent or treat a run-in with troublesome plants.

    Leaves of 3, let it be
    The best way to avoid poison ivy or oak symptoms is to know what it looks like—and avoid it. The plants have three leaflets growing from a single stem, and vary in color from bright green in the spring to dark red in the fall. They usually grow as bushes or vines, near the edge of fields, forests, streams, hiking paths or yards. Poison ivy grows east of the Rocky Mountains, from Canada down to northern Mexico, while poison oak thrives in the western states. Both are relatively rarely above 5,000 feet or in deserts.

    Toxic trouble
    Both poison ivy and poison oak (and poison sumac) are members of the Toxicodendron family of plants. These plants produce urushiol, an oil found in leaves, stems and roots that causes an allergic reaction in the form of rashes and blisters. (Interestingly, a less potent level of urushiol is found in mango skins, leaves and stems, as well as cashew and pistachio shells.)  But not everyone is allergic to the oil—three out of four people experience a reaction to urushiol. If you are allergic, you can be exposed through indirect contact from urushiol-tainted clothing, pet fur, tools or equipment.

    Act fast
    The key to minimizing the reaction it to get rid of the oil as quickly as you can. Within 10 minutes, 50 percent of the oil is already absorbed into the skin. Wash the area immediately with isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) or soap and plenty of cool water (no baths or showers, as hot water opens the pores, allowing urushiol to spread faster!).

    Fortunately there are cleansing products made just for the task. Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser is highly recommended by Pharmaca staff, as it removes the urushiol oil to stop the spread of the rash. Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash also does the trick. Smart hikers and campers carry these, just in case (especially since these cleansers can be used to wash off clothes, pets and tools, too!).

    Got red streaks?
    You’ll know if you’ve made contact with urushiol if a rash appears within 8 to 48 hours. Long red streaks or raised areas will appear where the plant brushed the skin. And it will itch. A lot. You’ll have red bumps or even leaky blisters that can scab. The rash may burn. These symptoms can go on for anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks. While it’s not contagious, be sure no one else comes into contact with the oil when it’s still on you.

    The Fix
    Pharmaca offers several remedies to help ease the symptoms, according to Barbara Reitebach, customer specialist in Mill Valley and Theresa Brown, naturopathic doctor in Portland.

    • Tecnu Extreme serves as a wash that removes the urushiol oils, which can lessen or even stop symptoms from appearing altogether. And it contains the homeopathic plant Grindelia robusta (aka gumweed), which soothes and reduces pain and inflammation.
    • All Terrain Poison Ivy Spray relies on kaolin clay to draw out toxins, zinc oxide to heal blisters and comfrey root and colloidal oatmeal to reduce inflammation.
    • Herbs, Etc.’s Ivy Itch Relief Spray contains jewelweed extract, which naturally neutralizes the urushiol antigen, and plantain leaf to ease the itching.
    • Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Relief Spray contains histamine blocker Diphenhydramine HCI, and skin protector zinc acetate that helps dry up the blisters.

    In addition to topical treatments, Boiron’s Rhus Toxicodendron is an oral homeopathic remedy recommended for skin conditions associated with intense itching, burning, redness and swelling, especially poison ivy or oak, explains Theresa. Take 4- 5 tablets, 3 times a day to help speed recovery.

  • What to Pack: Natural Travel Staples

    You've saved up your vacation hours, booked your flights and packed your favorite books. But have you prepared for the possibility of illness? From crowded airplanes to musty old buildings, vacation destinations also come with a variety of travel concerns. We asked Clare Bauermeister, naturopathic doctor at our Seattle-Wallingford store, to help us prep for any travel eventuality.

    Jet Lag

    "People going to another time zone can really benefit from a sleep aid like melatonin," says Clare. "My favorite is Natural Factors Tranquil Sleep, which also includes 5-HTP and L-Theanine." Clare says you can take these chewables before a long plane flight, or just to help alter sleep patterns to combat jet lag. She said people also have good results with Boiron homeopathic Jet Lag Carekit. And rest easier with the addition of Bucky's travel neck pillows and eye masks, available in stylish prints.


    Eating outside of your comfort zone—whether it's Chicago's deep dish pizza or real German bratwurst—can cause digestive discomforts. To help your body cope, Clare suggests a travel-ready probiotic and a good digestive enzyme. "I always recommend taking a probiotic with you," she says, such as the shelf-stable ones from Culturelle. "It's one of the most highly studied strains of acidophilus for helping prevent and treat traveler's diarrhea." Take these and an enzyme such as Tyler's Similase throughout your vacation, or just when you know a heavy meal is looming. (Click here for more handy digestion suggestions.)

    Sea and Airsickness

    If your travels are taking you out to sea (or even just on a bumpy plane ride), and you're prone to bouts of nausea, take comfort in the stylish designs of Psi Nausea Relief Bands. The bands use adjustable acupressure to calm nausea, offering relief without drugs. "My other favorite thing, for any sort of nausea, is ginger," says Clare. She recommends tucking Reed's Ginger Chews in your purse or carry-on for quick relief.


    From trains to planes to tourist destinations, exposure to crowds can do a number on our immune systems. Start boosting before you take off with Source Naturals Wellness Formula tablets, or WishGarden Kick-Ass Immune herbal tincture. Clare also recommends keeping your nasal passages hydrated with a wash like Xlear Saline Nasal Wash. "When your nose is dried out you often have less protection from microbes, so keep it moisturized," says Clare.

    Respiratory Problems

    As charming as those medieval castles and rural bed and breakfasts are, damp weather and musty buildings can also lead to respiratory problems. If you know you're likely to have trouble breathing, consider Gaia Herbs Respiratory Defense, which Clare says is a great herbal formula that includes oregano, a natural anti-fungal that's good for mildew. For more long-term care, Clare recommends taking Herbs, Etc. Lung Tonic on a continual basis.


    What would vacation be without a little sunburn? Even if you're not headed to the beach, it's good to keep your skin protected whenever you'll be outside. "I love Sanitas Solar Block," says Clare, who always recommends mineral sunblocks. "And of course, reapply, reapply, reapply." When sunburns do strike, however, soothe skin with healing products like All Terrain Aloe Skin Repair or Boiron Calendula Cream. "I like calendula cream for any type of skin condition."

    Stop in to Pharmaca today to stock up on necessities for your next vacation. And thanks to our Facebook fans for contributing their top travel concerns. Want to join the discussion? Like us on Facebook today.

  • One Simple, Life-Saving Idea

    The clever folks at Help Remedies have come up with a great idea: Take one handy pocket-sized pack of Help I've Cut Myself bandages and add a bone-marrow registry swab kit. Because if you need a bandage, chances are you're already bleeding, right?

    Pick up Help I've Cut Myself and next time you need a bandage, swab that scrape with the included kit, seal it up and drop it in the mail to DKMS, the world's largest bone marrow donor center. They'll take your info and add it to their registry--so you may one day be able to offer a marrow transplant to one of the 10,000 people who need it every year.

    Plus, all of our Help Remedies are on sale this July (find Help I've Cut Myself & I Want to Save a Life in stores only). Look to Help for small packs of everything from allergy and pain relief to nausea and congestion.

  • Summer First Aid Kit Essentials, On Sale in April!

    The air is getting warmer, the trails getting drier…for many of us, it’s time to start those outdoor activities. Just don’t forget to pack a first aid kit! A tumble off a mountain bike or a misstep can leave you miles from home with bruises and scrapes that could use some a little TLC.

    Here’s a few ideas for a simple kit that’s easily packable in a backpack or overnight kit—all on sale in April*!

    Bandages and gauze: Make sure you can safely wrap any cuts and scrapes immediately. All Terrain’s entire line is on sale for 20% or more.

    Topical creams for different skin irritations: We love Boericke & Tafel’s Florasone, an alternative to cortisone cream that soothes itchy, irritated skin. And don’t forget Ssssting Stop, which takes the itch and pain out of bug bites. The entire line of Boericke & Tafel is 20% off this month!

    Boiron Arnica pellets and Arnicare cream: Smooth Arnicare onto a hurt knee or twisted ankle to help lessen swelling and bruising; place a few homeopathic pellets under the tongue to speed healing from the inside. The bonus pack, which includes both, is 20% off this month.

    Sun protection: Stock up and be ready for any kind of weather! Choose mineral blocks from Alba, Jason or Nature’s Gate, all on sale this month.

    Pain relief: Easy-to-pack UrgentRx packets include single doses of aspirin, great to have on hand for painful situations (or even heart attacks!). Pick up single packets for just 99 cents in stores this month.

    On-the-go energy: Stash some high-protein bars in your pack in case you need an extra kick of energy to make it up that last hill. Find bars from Probars Clif Bars and Kind Bars, all on sale in stores.

    Stop into Pharmaca and speak with a practitioner for advice on other first aid kit necessities.

    *Sale prices not valid in all stores; prices valid through April 24, 2012

  • Your Holiday Survival Kit

    Ah, the holidays. Full of family, good cheer, rich food and for many, busy schedules and stressful travel. We spoke with Jenna Zampiello, naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist at Seattle's Madison Park location, about ways to keep yourself healthy and less stressed during this exciting time of year.

    Travel healthy
    When we're traveling and coming into contact with a lot of people, it's a good idea to give your immune system a little extra help. Jenna suggests packing an antibacterial gel or spray, like EO's Hand Sanitizer Spray, especially if you're traveling during flu season. She also recommends eating a healthy, low-carb breakfast on travel day, then eating smaller meals throughout the day. "Most people feel significantly better if they actually fast during travel time, abstaining from consuming the prepared airport meals that are high in fat and salt," says Jenna.

    Jenna also recommends staying hydrated by drinking at least one 8 oz glass per hour while flying, and mixing in some Emergen-C to add immunity-boosting vitamins and electrolytes. Other travel essentials include Jet Zone, a homeopathic formula to prevent jet lag and Reed's Ginger Candy or homeopathic Tabacum 30c to help settle an upset stomach.

    Maintain good immunity
    For continuous immune support Jenna also suggests keeping up a maintenance dose of New Chapter's Lifeshield Immunity, a medicinal mushroom-based formula offering a potent source of beta glucans which help to upregulate immune cells required to fight bacteria, viruses and cancer. Mushrooms not only stimulate your immune system, but have also been shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels.

    Another quality immune support formula is Source Naturals' Wellness Formula. "You can take it every day, and if you feel like you're coming down with something, take the maximum dose of three tablets several times a day," says Jenna. She also recommends our best-selling homeopathic remedy, Boiron's Oscillococcinum, which can be taken at the onset of any type of flu symptoms.

    Keep stress at bay
    Most everyone can use extra adrenal support, says Jenna, since our bodies are not equipped to deal with chronic stress, and, let's face it, "everyone is stressed out during the holidays," she says. She recommends Gaia Herbs' Adrenal Health, which can serve as a preventive measure, giving you more energy and preventing fatigue. For more immediate relief, sip a cup of Yogi's Kava Stress Relief tea (or "make a big pot for the whole family if you need to!" says Jenna). If the holiday stress becomes too much, try Bach Rescue Remedy, available in easy-to-pack sprays, pastilles and drops.

    Maintain a healthy weight
    Boosting your adrenal health can also be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight, says Jenna, since it can help normalize your cortisol response. But it's also important to keep blood sugar levels stable during the holiday season. "Make sure you have protein for every meal, especially breakfast, since this helps to stabilize and regulate your metabolism for the rest of the day," she says. She recommends snacks like an apple with almond butter, hummus and carrots or trail mix that includes both nuts and fruit (try Pharmaca's Antioxidant Trail Mix). If you need a whole meal replacement on the go, try a packet of protein powder like Vega's Whole Food Health Optimizer, which can be easily added to water or juice while traveling.

    It's important to note that the winter season itself can create its own weight-gain challenges, since a lot of people eat more because of lower serotonin levels due to shorter days, says Jenna. You can boost those levels by maintaining a healthy dose of vitamin D. In the Pacific Northwest, that's especially difficult, so Jenna recommends a dose of 4,000 IU throughout the winter season ("Everyone should have their vitamin D levels checked at least once a year to ensure adequate dosage," Jenna says).  She likes Pharmaca's liquid Vitamin D3.

    Boost healthy digestion
    Finally, when rich foods abound, avoid heartburn and indigestion by packing a few simple products. "Enzymedica's Digest Gold is one of the best enzymes we have," says Jenna, for helping support digestion of holiday meals. She also likes chewable papaya enzymes, both of which can be taken during a meal. You can also support your digestion after a meal by sipping a cup of Traditional Medicinals' Eater's Digest Tea. "It contains a number of medicinal herbs that help stimulate your digestion should you feel bloated or sluggish after a meal," says Jenna. "It is a good standby should you happen to overindulge and eat too much."

    For more recommendations on facing holiday health challenges, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Easy Tips for a Healthy Holiday

    Your holiday list is written. Your menu is already planned. Even your New Year’s Eve babysitter is lined up. But what do you do when the holidays bring an unwelcome surprise, like standstill traffic or last-minute illness, that throws you off balance? Not to worry. Pharmaca is here to help you avoid holiday havoc in its many forms.

    Maintain Your Regular Routine
    Traveling to visit family and friends can often lead to changes in your sleeping and eating schedule, as well as your standard wellness routine. Try to keep these basic elements of your daily life stable.

    • For sleep support, our practitioners often recommend WishGarden’s Sleepy Nights, a non-sedative formula that modulates the nervous system to quiet mental chatter. Since it contains no valerian and no kava, you can take it any time in the night and still feel fresh in the morning.
    • Since most of us tend to eat more (and more often) during the holidays, try taking holy basil supplements during times of excess. This herb acts as an adrenal regulator so it not only modulates blood sugar, but it also reduces stress.

    Keep Stress at Bay
    The holidays can be as hectic as they can be enjoyable. Surround yourself with a positive environment to help temper emotional reactions to stressful situations.

    • Try keeping essential oils like spruce, clove and thyme in your home or car diffuser. A small bottle of lavender also travels easily for on-the-go moments when stress levels start to rise.
    • When cooking, cleaning, or preparing for company, light beeswax candles around the house and turn up some music, like Putumayo’s Jazz and Blues Christmas. This way, your chores become enjoyable personal time.

    Support Your System
    One of the great things about the holiday is the selfless spirit that grows in you, but it’s also important not to lose sight of yourself. Be sure to take good care of your body so you can look and feel your best.

    • A blend of the herb astragalus and elderberry extract is great for helping keep illness at bay and reducing inflammation. Even the little ones can be Santa-ready with the SambuGuard formula from Flora.
    • While we all know that nothing beats stress like a glass of wine, it’s also true that nothing hurts like the morning after. Replenish your vitamin B levels which are depleted by alcohol consumption with New Chapter’s Coenzyme B Food Complex.

    For additional suggestions and personalized advice, visit your local Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy.

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