Women's Health

  • 6 Mother's Day Gift Ideas

    For the years of wiped noses, changed diapers, cuts cleaned, bruises kissed and feelings comforted, it’s time to show mom you appreciate her. Pharmaca has you covered with an endless selection of gift options: luscious natural bath and beauty kits, aromatherapy essentials, tea time luxuries, yoga accessories and other special items.










    Tea Time

    Kick off Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed, accompanied by Tea Forte’s adorable ceramic teapot filled with a rich chocolate rose brew of hand-picked loose leaf black tea. A well-deserved indulgence.

    Serenity Now

    Bring the spa home with SpaRoom Essentials’ Aromaharmony, a Bluetooth-connected wireless sound system that diffuses delicate scents and soft sounds to create the a peaceful retreat. Enhance the atmosphere with one of Caldrea’s beautiful and uniquely scented candles for a hint of lavender pine or ginger pomelo. For a quick aromatherapy refresh on the go, Pacifica’s natural, portable roll-on scents pack away in mom’s purse perfectly.

    Luxury Beauty Kits

    For a little bit of luxury, Pharmaca’s high-end beauty brands offer popular cosmetics and natural skin care in a gorgeous assortment of kits. Help mom refresh and revive with Dr. Hauschka’s radiance-boosting, spa-quality home facial kit, which includes a porcelain mask mixing bowl, natural bristle application brush and a selection of revitalizing and refreshing masks to open pores and revive skin. Follow up with one of MyChelle’s ‘Hello, Beautiful’ collections, which include serum, sun care, scrub, cleanser, hydration mist and moisturizer, each customized for individual skin types.

    Springtime Nail Care

    Help mom show off natty nails and on-trend toes with an array of springtime nail polish shades—think Deborah Lippman’s pretty pink, hint of mint and tropical sunsets—and soft, creamy lotions that keep hands soft and delicately scented. Pre de Provence’s set of three shea butter hand creams allows mom to soothe her hands anytime, with one tube for her bag, one for her desk and the other for her car. For portable touch-ups, Tweezerman’s Mini Nail Rescue Kit cures cuticle woes as it cleans away the grime of the day, neatening nails in a jiffy.

    Blissful Bath

    A relaxing bath can be a rare indulgence. For Mother’s Day, help mom up-level a blissful bath experience with Kneipp’s Revive 5 natural herbal bath collection. In Lavender, Pure Bliss, Enjoy Life, Stress Free and Soft Skin, each bath oil offers a new experience in meditative relaxation. Add Eco Tools’ Bamboo Bristle Bath Brush and Ahava’s Deadsea Mud Gentle Body Scrub for silky exfoliation and a sense of renewal.

    Yoga Essentials

    Say Om. Paired with a punch card to her favorite studio, an eco-friendly yoga mat and Earthlust’s cool graphic water bottle are just the thing for your favorite yogi. A light spritz of Aura Cacia's Organic Purifying Yoga Mist brings an element of relaxing aromatherapy to her yoga session.


  • Wedding Beauty Countdown: 6 Months to Perfect Skin, Hair & Nails

    WeddingCouple’ve got the venue, photographer and dress all set, but don’t forget that glowing skin and shiny hair need advance planning, too. With wedding season just months away, here’s what to get started on now to get ready the big day.

    6 months: Get your hair and nails in shape

    Now’s the time to be sure your diet supports healthy hair and nails. Foods rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and zinc are key to fortifying the hair follicle, which leads to healthier hair. Salmon, nuts, legumes and yogurt are especially helpful, and biotin, a B vitamin found in peanuts and almonds, helps nails grow strong, too. For an extra boost, supplement your diet with Enzymatic Therapy’s Biotin Forte with Zinc and Pharmaca’s Omega-3 Clinical Strength Fish Oil.

    3 months: Shine the spotlight on skin

    Camera-ready skin needs to be smooth and glowing. This is the time to faithfully follow an exfoliation and moisturizing routine. Treat oily skin with a gentle exfoliator like evanhealy’s Lemongrass Facial Polish that deep cleans pores and reduces excess sebum and inflammation.

    Follow up with evanhealy’s Lemon Thyme Facial Tonic Hydrosol and Light Moisture Replenishing Fluid to balance and soften skin. Dry or mature skin can improve with weekly brightening treatments like Sanitas’ Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. This mask exfoliates with fresh organic pumpkin and moisturizes with powerful hyaluronic acid and squalane.

    It’s also a good time to experiment with self-tanning lotion so you can execute an expert sun-kissed look on the wedding day. The key to a streak-free finish? Gentle exfoliation before application of a self tanner. Try Weleda’s Birch Body Scrub to polish skin with natural plant wax pearls, then apply jane iredale’s Tantasia Self Tanner for natural-looking color (and no smelly self tanner scent!).

    1 month: Make those makeup decisions

    Makeup experts like the estheticians at Pharmaca can help you choose the right products for a natural, picture-perfect look. Makeup primers, for example, can keep you shine free and extend the life of your makeup. Jane iredale’s Absence Oil Control Primer is a colorless base that prevents oiliness and your makeup from changing color throughout the day. For creaseless eye shadow, blend jane iredale’s Lid Primer in Canvas or their Eye Gloss in Pink Silk over the entire lid before applying eye shadow.

    And don’t forget to shape your brows! Get help from an esthetician at Pharmaca, or read more about strategies for creating the perfect arch.

    1 week: Put together your emergency kit

    Having a kit with your essentials nearby can ease some wedding day stress from last-minute snafus or makeup problems. Facial powder, concealer, lip gloss, deodorant, floss, an energy bar, safety pins and a mini sewing kit are all good ideas. Pack them all in a cute bag like Danica’s Ephemera Linen Cosmetic Bag. These bags are thoughtful gifts for your bridesmaids, too!

    1 day: Pamper

    Feeling a little jittery? Calming lavender to the rescue! Treat yourself to a relaxing bath with Pharmaca’s Lavender Bath Salts, or a luxurious hair treatment with John Masters’ Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner. A pampering way to put you in just the right mood.

    Wedding Day: Relax and enjoy the fruits of your preparation. Congrats!

  • Good Women's Health at Any Age

    Our health concerns change with each passing decade. The fact is, the older we get the more important it is to pay attention to our health. To address some of women's most common issues, we turned to China Rose Zamora, nutritional therapist and herbalist at our Napa, Calif. store.

    Age: 20s; Concern: Good skin care

    Most important, China Rose, says, is hydration. She recommends consuming half your body weight in ounces (i.e. if you weigh 140 lbs, drink 70 oz of water). "Try coconut water for a natural source of electrolytes," she says, and reduce your diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol.

    Next, make sure you're protected from the sun. "We need some exposure for healthy vitamin D levels, but try not to be out in the intense times, 11am-3pm or so," she says. If you do have to go out, China Rose likes mineral sunscreens from Badger and Goddess Garden.

    She also recommends getting a good balance of healthy fats in your diet, including nuts and seeds, avocado, fish, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs or organic dairy products. She also suggests a fish oil supplement, like those from Pharmax.

    Age: 30s; Concern: Fertility/Pregnancy

    To prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy, China Rose suggests reducing stress levels. "High stress can throw off the intricate balance of our female hormones, making it harder to conceive or maintain a pregnancy," she says.

    She adds that medicinal herbs can help reduce nervous tension and help your body adapt to stress. "My favorites are nervine herbs like skullcap and wild oats, and adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, licorice and holy basil."

    In addition, it's a good idea to start taking a prenatal multivitamin and some extra DHA up to a year before planning to get pregnant to ensure healthy prenatal development. She likes multis from whole-food sources, like New Chapter's Perfect Prenatal, MegaFood’s Baby & Me, Garden of Life’s Kind Organic Prenatal and the DHA in and fish oil such as Nordic Naturals' Cod Liver Oil.

    Age: 40s; Concern: Preparing for a Healthy Menopause

    "We can do a lot to prevent and reduce common menopausal symptoms by taking care of our adrenal glands," China Rose says. "Get enough rest, reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption, keep blood sugar balanced throughout the day and get regular exercise."

    For symptomatic support, she likes maca, an herb that supports the whole hormonal system and can help to reduce symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and low energy levels. "I also like to use liver-supportive herbs that help the body clear any excess hormones, like estrogen, that might be causing symptoms." She loves combinations of milk thistle, dandelion, yellow dock, and Oregon grape root like those found in Pharmaca’s Liver Cleanse Booster.

    Age: 50s; Concern: Osteoporosis

    "Calcium is important, but not all calcium supplements are created equal," she says. "I prefer to use those from food sources like New Chapter's Bone Strength Take Care." She likes it because it includes other important nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K and strontium that help to maintain strong bones. At the same time, make sure your digestion is up to par, since digestive problems can hinder the absorption of these vital minerals. Caffeine and soda can also leach calcium from your bones.

    Age: 60s; Concern: Heart Health

    While she always recommends a diet high in plant-based foods, China Rose feels it's especially important as women start thinking about their heart health. "A wide variety of fruits and vegetables provides a diverse source of antioxidants," she says. In addition, make sure you're getting a good amount of cardiovascular exercise: walking, swimming, cycling, etc. "Your heart will thank you for it!"

    She also recommends hawthorn berry as a general cardio tonic. "It can help to lower moderately high blood pressure levels, as well as support healthy heart function," she says. She recommends Flora's Hawthorn Heart Formula. In addition, she likes motherwort, an herb that can help alleviate mild heart palpitations as a symptom of menopause.

    Finally, continue to be aware of your hormonal balance. "Though hormonal levels naturally lessen as we age, we continue to need healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone to maintain strong bones," she says, so speak with a practitioner about supporting your hormonal system.

    Pharmaca's practitioners can help you address your health concerns at any age.

  • Hormones: A Delicate Balance

    TIM womanHormones can be the cause of a variety of health concerns—from teen acne to mood swings to, eventually, hot flashes. And they can get out of balance for a variety of reasons, says Rebecca Phillips, doctor of chiropracty at our Albuquerque store. Fortunately there are solutions for bringing them back to the right levels, and treating the associated symptoms in the meantime.

    If it seems though a person’s symptoms do lean toward hormonal imbalance, Rebecca will often recommend a saliva test, available without a prescription from our pharmacies. The tests reveal levels of estrogen, progesterone and the adrenal glands. Within 10 days, she says, they’ll have a much better idea of how to help address their issues, and the data can be used as a baseline for future tests.

    If estrogen is low, for example, Rebecca would recommend something like black cohosh, which mimics the presence of estrogen in the body to relieve symptoms like hot flashes. If the levels are totally out of balance, she might recommend pregnenolone, which converts to either DHEA or progesterone, depending on the body’s needs (we carry Pure Encapsulations’ Pregnenolone). Maca also which offers natural support for hormone balance.

    While awaiting test results, Rebecca says, she will often recommend supplements that can help ease symptoms on their own. “If they have sleep issues, for example, we can give them GABA,” she says. Or if they’re experiencing hot flashes at night, it may be a nutrition issue. “Sometimes people’s diets are just too high in sugar and that’s fueling the fire.” That’s when she might recommend a green powder, like those from Vibrant Greens, to help cool the body.

    Green foods are also an important way to support the liver and ensure proper filtering of estrogen, which is key, Rebecca says, for avoiding hormonal surges of acne in your teen years and beyond. “Most people that have adult acne need to get off sugars and onto lean proteins and greens.”

    The adrenal factor

    “Our hormones don’t come just from our ovaries,” Rebecca says. Throughout our lifetime, 25 percent come from our adrenal glands, which convert pregnenolone into DHEA, progesterone or cortisol depending on what the body needs. Because it works so hard, it’s often depleted during high-stress periods.

    But after menopause, when the ovaries have stopped producing hormones of their own, our bodies rely on the adrenals for all of our hormone balance. “If your 25 percent is up and functional, you might not experience the hot flashes.” But if you’re over-stressed, there’s a good chance you’re operating on less than 25 percent, and can experience exacerbated menopause symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to practice good stress management habits throughout our lives. A Pharmaca practitioner can also talk to you about adaptogenic herbs such as eleuthero and rhodiola—or even specific herbal formulas—that can be helpful in nourishing the adrenals.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for guidance if you feel your hormones are out of balance.

  • Q & A: Good Breast Health

    Mom and DaughterAt what age should I begin being concerned about breast health? 

    Optimally, we would teach our young girls to be aware of the importance of diet and exercise on breast health for the future. It's also important to start early because certain foods, such as soy foods, can improve breast cell differentiation in pre-puberty and thus reduce the risk of breast cancer. Educating girls/women about healthy diets, regular exercise, weight management, and low alcohol consumption is a message that can be revisited throughout their lives.

    What are the biggest risk factors for breast cancer? 

    It starts with gender—approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Other non-preventable risk factors include a family history with a first-degree relative with breast cancer, and age, as more than two-thirds of invasive breast cancers are in women age 55 and older.

    Environmental risk factors play also a meaningful role, including:

    • Diets high in saturated fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates, and low in fruits and vegetables
    • Exposure to chemicals from industrial and agricultural processes
    • Excessive weight gain as an adult, obesity and/or a sedentary lifestyle
    • Lack of pregnancy and full term birth
    • Excess alcohol (greater than 7 drinks per week)

    Post-menopausal women on estrogen and synthetic progestin for longer than 3-4 years have a slight increase risk of breast cancer.

    Aside from self exams, what can I be doing to encourage good breast health? 

    Not all current guidelines even recommend self exams, and surprisingly, research is showing that screening mammograms in low risk women and early detection of a breast cancer may not lead to reduced rates of women dying from breast cancer. This confusing and contradictory state of the research has made it more difficult to understand what a woman should do to monitor breast health.

    Nevertheless, a regular annual physical exam is still something I urge all women to do. Checking in with your doctor regularly is important because you get a routine physical exam and the opportunity to optimize health by talking through your habits and getting necessary tests.

    I would also focus on the following:

    • Healthy weight management, with a minimum of 3.5 hours of exercise per week,
    • Low alcohol consumption
    • Reducing exposure to environmental toxins (e.g choosing “green” cleaning products and organic foods)
    • A healthy, whole foods diet with a focus on brightly colored vegetables, some fruits, whole grains, quality soy foods, olive oil, a few saturated fats (cheese, butter, meats) and fish twice per week.
    • Healthy relationships

    Good stress management—including time spent in nature to take advantage of the healing power of nature on body, mind and spirit

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about other recommendations for maintaining good breast health.

  • Demistifying Hormone Replacement Therapy (Video)

    If you're considering hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), learn from expert Dr. Tori Hudson about why it can be an effective, safe way to manage menopause symptoms. Dr. Hudson confronts questions about increased breast cancer risk and the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones. She also talks about the benefits of different delivery methods and dosages available through a compounding pharmacy such as Pharmaca.

  • Better Breast Health (Video)

    If you're concerned about breast health, listen to Dr. Tori Hudson, ND, discuss risk factors for breast cancer and recommendations for better breast health. She talks about research that shows that increased risk for breast cancer can come from consuming more than 7 servings of alcohol per week, being overweight (especially in their 50s) or simply having a genetic factor. Listen as she recommends other supplements and strategies for decreasing your breast cancer risk.

  • Pregnancy and Beyond: 5 Reasons Why Prenatals Can Be Beneficial

    PregnantLadyPrenatals aren't just for pregnant women—they can be a great addition to many women's daily supplement regimens. Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board, recommends them for all women of child-bearing age, since the nutrients in prenatals are vital during the time even before you get pregnant. (Learn more about Dr. Low Dog's recommendations for nutrition during pregnancy.)

    Prenatals are generally high in iron, folic acid, and sometimes the biotin that is included in hair and nail formula vitamins. Because of these added benefits, some women elect to take prenatal vitamins even when they aren’t pregnant. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider prenatals.

    You're trying to get pregnant

    One of the main nutrients in prenatal vitamins is folic acid, which many women don't get enough of in their diets. And folic acid deficiency has been linked to birth defects in some infants. Prenatal vitamins also commonly include the omega-3 fatty acid docoshexaenoic acid (DHA), which can help with brain development and vision. While fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acid, there is concern regarding fish consumption and mercury toxicity while pregnant, meaning pregnant women must rely on supplementation.

    You're anemic

    Another main difference between regular multivitamins and prenatal vitamins is that prenatals contain much more iron. If you have issues with anemia, this extra iron can help. The Mayo Clinic warns, however, that too much iron can be dangerous, so consult with your health care provider if you notice side effects after taking prenatal vitamins.

    You're vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions

    Meeting all your dietary needs when your diet is restricted can be challenging. Getting B vitamins, for example, can be especially hard for vegetarians because the main dietary source of B vitamins is meat. Those with lactose intolerance, or who opt not to consume dairy, can benefit from the extra calcium and vitamin D in prenatal supplements.

    You want a boost for your hair

    Biotin, which is part of the B vitamin group, has been used to treat hair loss and disorders. Biotin is present in many cosmetics, shampoos along with prenatal vitamins, so improving the condition of your hair may be another reason to take prenatal vitamins when not pregnant. Even celebrities such as Mindy Kaling swear by the practice!

    You're breastfeeding

    The time you spend breastfeeding is an extension of pregnancy, since the nutrition you put in your own body is still helping your baby's development. Folate is a vital nutrient for infants, and if a lactating mother isn’t getting enough folate for both her and her baby, she may find herself at risk of deficiency as much of the folate produced will go to the baby through breastfeeding. Continuing to take prenatal vitamins while you breastfeed can help better nourish you and your baby.

    Whether you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or simply want to boost your vitamin intake, prenatal vitamins may be worth considering. And, as always, make sure to consult your health care practitioner before making any changes to your health care routine.

  • 4 Glam Makeup Tricks for Busy Moms

    Lip GlossGone are the days of mom jeans and mom haircuts...today's mom can be as glam as she wants to be! But if it feels like they're aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with looking great, take heed: In just 5 minutes, these simple solutions will help any mom look glam on the go.

    Eyes on the Prize

    The whole world doesn't have to know if you're tired! Even if you're strapped for time, a simple way to look bright and fresh is by applying a high quality mascara—we love Dr. Hauschka's selection.

    Once you've found your perfect mascara, make sure you're applying it correctly. Before you start, make use of an eyelash curler—it can make your eyes pop even more. Next, apply mascara from the base of your lashes and wiggle the wand back and forth from root to tip, applying as many coats as necessary. Once you've achieved the desired look, swipe your wand from the inner to outer corner of your eye to create the illusion of even fuller lashes.

    Bronze over Yawns

    Another simple way to look alert and awake! Add a little zing to your complexion with a great bronzer, like this one from jane iredale. The hard part is in picking the right shade; Makeup experts recommend choosing a bronzer that's about two shades darker than your natural skin tone.

    When applying bronzer, make sure you're aiming for where sunlight would naturally hit your face first: cheekbones, chin, nose and forehead. Start in the middle of your forehead, dusting around your eyes and onto your cheeks, then again down your jawline down to your chin (almost as if you're drawing the number “3” on your face with the brush).

    Gloss is Boss

    A quick dash of lip gloss can give you a sophisticated, high fashion look that's perfect for a night out, or a simple and subtle sheen just right for a lunch date with a friend. Not only is it easy to apply, it does its part to keep your lips moist and kissably soft. Lip glosses from SpaRitual are perfect for the task, and packed with natural botanicals and antioxidants to nourish and hydrate lips.

    Glimmer and Shimmer

    Enhance your natural glow for a night out with W3ll People's Elitist Mineral Shadow in Gold Twinkle. This multitasker can be used on its own as an eyeshadow, and is also designed to blend with gloss, moisturizer and even hair gel for an all-over sparkle. Bonus: It's free from artificial preservatives and is cruelty free, perfect for mothers who care about Mother Earth.

    Used together or on their own, these simple makeup tricks can turn any day into an I-feel-fantastic day!

  • Women and Heart Health: Know the Warning Signs

    AgingYou probably know that heart disease is the number one killer of women. But did you know that a woman’s signs of heart attack don’t necessarily look the same as a man’s? In fact, the discrepancies in symptoms can result in women being turned away from hospitals when doctors are unable to diagnose it as a heart attack. But the longer an artery is blocking blood flow to the heart, the more damage can occur to the heart muscle. That’s why it’s a good idea to understand women’s unique heart attack symptoms.

    Know the signs

    A 2003 study published in Circulation reviewed the symptoms of more than 500 female heart attack patients—and found that less than half of them experienced the common chest pain symptom during their episodes. According to the Mayo Clinic, women often have symptoms that are a result of blockages in not only their main arteries, but also in smaller arteries (called microvascular disease).

    Many of the women in the study reported shortness of breath, weakness and unusual fatigue, as well as nausea, dizziness, discomfort that feels like indigestion and upper back pain. Experts recommend that women experiencing a cluster of these symptoms, especially ones they’ve never felt before, should seek medical help.

    Protect your heart

    Prevention is the best medicine! Here are some simple ways to support your heart health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Merilyn Zaubzer, naturopath at our Oakland store.

    Exercise. Merilyn says it’s a good idea to work with a trainer to reduce belly fat, since women, specifically, have a higher risk of heart disease when extra weight is centered around the mid section (called visceral fat).

    Make sure there’s lots of fiber and fresh food in your diet, including garlic, which helps increase blood flow and circulation, reducing the risk of artery blockages.

    Try supplements that can boost cardiovascular health.

    EPA is especially important for supporting heart health. Merilyn likes Renew Life’s Norwegian Gold EPA 1000 Omega, which offers a high dose of EPA to help lower triglyceride levels.

    Hawthorn, one of Merilyn’s favorite heart herbs, directly supports cardiovascular function. She recommends Gaia Herbs’ Hawthorn Supreme.

    CoQ10 is a crucial nutrient to take preventively, as it supports cardiovascular function as an antioxidant. Merilyn recommends CoQ10 from Pure Encapsulations or Xymogen.

    As always, speak with your doctor about your heart health and whether prescription cholesterol or blood pressure medications are needed to help manage your heart disease risk.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner about other natural ways to support your heart.

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