• 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.


  • Meditation: Bringing Mindfulness to Your Life

    MeditationIt’s been an essential part of religion and spiritualism for centuries, but only recently has meditation become mainstream (doctor recommended, even!). Celebrities, business executives and school children are now setting aside 20 minutes a day to simply practice stillness. Why? Fans of meditation swear it lets you focus your thoughts, make better decisions, improves your health and increases happiness.

    Meditation 101: Mantras, Guides or Movement?

    One of the most simple, pure ways to meditate is to find a quiet space, sit down, relax your breathing and clear your mind for 15 or 20 minutes. Mantra meditation uses a repeated word or significant phrase (like “om” or “I am relaxed”) and concentrated breathing to eliminate jumbled thoughts and create stillness in your mind. Although it sounds easy, it does take practice. The book How to Meditate, by Pema Chodron, available in Pharmaca stores, is a good step-by-step guide to help you get started.

    You can meditate interactively, too. Guided meditation walks you through a meditation with a coach or trainer, and you can find many guided recordings like those from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Resource Center on the web. Or pick up the easy-to-follow Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a DVD/book combo at Pharmaca stores. Some find meditation combined with deliberate physical movements beneficial, and Qi Gong, Tai Chi or Yoga (especially Hatha Yoga) incorporate both movement and mindfulness.

    Clear mind, healthy body
    Devotees of the practice know that relaxation and stress relief are some of the greatest benefits of daily meditation. It can help you gain perspective on difficult situations, focus your thoughts on the present instead of future worries or past regrets, and generally make you feel more positive. Physically, scientists studying mind-body medicine say that meditation not only lowers blood pressure but also can amp up your immune system. Meditation has also been shown to significantly help those with chronic conditions manage pain, especially back pain, headaches and gastrointestinal woes. Those who are facing surgery or a hospital stay can benefit, too. The free recording Guided Imagery and Relaxation for Surgery can help you focus your body’s healing response and experience less pain, according to the staff at California Pacific Medical Center.

    Setting the stage for tranquility
    While all you really need to meditate is a quiet place to focus your thoughts, sometimes setting the mood with a calming ritual can help center your intentions. Essential oils, for example, can be a trigger for your brain to be open to stillness. SpaRoom Essentials’ AromaMist Diffuser fills the air with customized essential oil scents. If your intention is to relax, Pharmaca Essential Oil of French Lavender is a good choice. Need grounding? Choose sandalwood or patchouli oil. And frankincense is said to enhance enlightenment.
    Salt lamps release negative ions that can help clear the air and create a tranquil environment. The soft, warm glow from a Himalayan Crystal Salt Lamp can enhance your meditation experience. Or combine both light and aromatherapy scents with a Himalayan Salt Aromatherapy Diffuser Lamp.

  • Natural Perfumes: A Chemical-Free Fragrance Guide

    CheekyPerfumes often have such sweet, uplifting names...Happy, Heavenly, even Curious. That's why it may come as a surprise that most mass-marketed fragrances are formulated with toxic chemicals—ingredients that give these fragrances staying power or mimic a natural scent. But these ingredients are also linked to a host of health troubles, from asthma to hormone disruption. Here’s what you need to avoid and safe ways to add fragrance to your life.

    Avoid “fragrance” as a labeled ingredient

    This generic term is used by cosmetic and perfume companies and they are not required to disclose what ingredients actually make up their fragrances. Many mass-marketed perfumes include synthetic chemicals that are known allergens and sensitizers (chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, including asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis).

    Avoid phthalates and parabens

    These chemicals are often added to perfume products to increase their staying power on your skin and in the bottle. But they’ve been linked to hormone disruption, breast cancer and reproductive toxicity—especially in teens, since they’re some of the largest consumers of fragranced personal care products.

    Avoid synthetic musk (including Nitro-Musk, Galaxolide and Tonalide)

    Musk is a common scent found in perfumes. Fragrance companies may say it’s a sexy animal scent, but its side effects are decidedly not sexy. Synthetic musk is a toxin that accumulates in our body, especially in fatty tissue and breast milk, and acts as a hormone disrupter.

    Use natural essential oils

    Natural essential oils are pure oils distilled from plants—flowers, leaves or seeds. These oils have distinct aromas like woody, spicy, green, herbal or floral. Here’s what you’ll smell with some of the common scent families.

    Woody or spicy aroma: stimulating, clearing, grounding
    Look for: clove, frankincense, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver
    Try: Pacifica's Sandalwood Perfume Roll-On, a warm, velvety woodsy scent

    Green or herbal aroma: brisk, clean
    Look for: citrus, bergamot, eucalyptus, rosemary, chamomile, basil
    Try: Love & Toast's Gin Blossom Perfume, a fresh, crisp citrusy scent

    Floral aroma: sweet, serene, feminine
    Look for: lavender, rose, ylang ylang, neroli
    Try: Jurlique's Essence of Rose Roll-On Fragrance, a pure rose scent made from Gallic roses

    Make your own

    It’s also easy to make your own fragrance creations. For tips on scent combinations that work well, check out this guide to the aromatic blending of essential oils. Remember, some essential oils are skin irritants due to the high concentration of active compounds, so make sure to dilute them with a carrier oil or alcohol.


    15-20 drops of essential oil (in whatever combination of scents you like)
    2 tablespoons unflavored vodka (100 proof is best) or pure grain alcohol

    Pour alcohol in a glass bottle first, then add essential oil. Let it age for at least 2 days, and up to 1 month. Finally, dilute with 1 tablespoon distilled water.

    Body Oil/Lotion

    15 drops of essential oil
    2-3 tablespoons of jojoba oil, almond oil or unscented body lotion.

    Blend and store your fragrance in a dark glass bottle.

    Explore the essential oils and natural fragrances at a Pharmaca near you!

  • Aromatherapy 101: Essential Oils for Better Moods, Better Health

    WashingFaceWhy is it that certain smells can evoke strong emotions? It turns out our sense of smell is one of the most basic, primal senses. Aromatherapy uses pure, highly concentrated scents from plants in essential oils to effect changes in our emotions and body. Dr. Becky Phillips, a chiropractor and aromatherapy practitioner in Albuquerque, tells us more about this effective therapy.

    How does it work?

    “Aromatherapy works on two levels,” explains Dr. Phillips. “When we inhale, smells activate a part of our brain. Smells can also work energetically, in a homeopathic way, to ease specific health conditions.” Specifically, smell receptors in the nose send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system, the part of the brain that’s connected with emotions. Smells can cause physical responses too, and can ease some ailments when we breathe in the appropriate scent, Dr. Phillips tells us.

    How do we use it?

    Essential oils can be mixed with water and used in a spray bottle to scent a room, or dropped into a diffuser. A good choice is the Green Air SpaVapor Ultrasonic Oil Diffuser, which creates a micro-fine mist of the oils using ultrasonic vibrations. The oils can also be applied to skin when diluted with pure carrier oils like almond, jojoba or even coconut oil.

    Rubbing diluted essential oil blends on acupuncture points can stimulate healing of the corresponding body area. Aromatherapy bath salts are another option; you’ll get the therapeutic effects of hydrotherapy and aromatherapy combined.

    Essential Oils 101

    With the power to enhance our mood and make us feel better, here are some of the most common essential oils—and their uses.

    Lavender – Calming
    While lavender’s ability to calm us is well known, this essential oil is a useful anti-viral agent too. Mix it with water in a travel spray bottle, and you’ll have a safe, alcohol-free sanitizer. Another tip: Spray around the house to keep spiders out. Try Pharmaca’s Essential Oil of French Lavender

    Mint – Energizing
    Mint is invigorating—and the perfect wake-up call to use in the morning. Breathing in the scent of peppermint can help settle an upset stomach, or make you feel cooler on hot days. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Peppermint

    Citrus – Refreshing and Uplifting
    Citrus scents like orange and lemon renew and cleanse the air, and enhance our sense of wellbeing. They can help clear the mind of distractions, and are ideal preparation for starting a new task or project. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Lemon, or Essential Oil of Orange

    Clove – Pain Relief
    The active compound in cloves is eugenol, known for decreasing pain (especially in toothaches) and also for its antiseptic properties. Clove’s warm, spicy scent can help relieve headache, too. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Clove Bud

    Lemongrass – Stress Relieving
    Known for its ability to relax us and help with insomnia, lemongrass is also revitalizing, and a perfect way to refresh any room. It’s a great insect repellant too, especially for mosquitoes and “no-see-ums.” Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Lemongrass

    Eucalyptus – Decongestant
    Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and its ability to open nasal passages make it ideal for respiratory and sinus conditions. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Eucalyptus

    Explore our full selection of Pharmaca brand essential oils and blends.

  • Essential Oil of the Month: Clove

    It’s that time of year, when rich scents like clove, frankincense and ginger show up in everything from your coffee drinks to sweet holiday candles. But these scents aren’t just about evoking warm memories—they also have powerful aromatherapeutic properties. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about clove, our Essential Oil of the Month.

    What it does
    As you might expect, clove bud is warming, stimulating and energizing. It can soothe digestion, serve as an antiseptic and relieve pain. It also has strong anti-fungal properties, and is often recommended for Athlete’s Foot.

    Bonus use
    Clove oil can be applied directly to the gums to relieve toothaches or to soothe pain during dental work.

    Ways to use it

    • Add a few drops to a diffuser to create a warm, invigorating aroma.
    • Mix a few drops with water and ingest to quell nausea and vomiting
    • Apply directly to warts, daily, to remove
    • Place cotton balls dipped in clove oil in spots where you want to repel bugs, like your food pantry
    • Blend with a carrier oil and apply directly to a painful area of your mouth to relieve toothache

    Interesting tidbit
    Clove buds come from an evergreen tree native to Indonesia and the Spice Islands. The tree produces bright green leaves and nail-shaped flower buds. The name comes from the Latin word clavus, meaning nail shaped.

  • Muscle Aches? Try Essential Oils for Pain

    Aches and pains got you down? If you’ve already run the gamut of prescription and over-the-counter medications, you may want try essential oils for pain and muscle aches. Essential oils, extracted from plants, flowers and trees, have powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic (i.e. pain-relieving) properties. Essential oils also act as a detoxifying agent. Menstrual cramps, sports injuries and joint pain can all be treated safely and naturally with essential oils.

    Because essential oils are too concentrated to put directly on the skin, they have to be blended with carrier oils such as grapeseed or almond (bonus: these oils also help moisturize the skin). You can also add diluted essential oils to bath water or soak a washcloth in warm water and essential oils and place on the body at the site of the pain.

    Some popular essential oils to try for pain relief include chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, marjoram, peppermint, birch. So how do you use them? Here are some essential oils recipes for pain relief:

    • General muscle aches: Combine 5 drops lavender, 4 drops marjoram and 3 drops rosemary with 30 ml of a carrier oil in a hot bath
    • PMS pain: Blend 5 drops clary sage, 5 drops geranium and 5 drops chamomile oil. Rub in a clockwise direction as you massage into the affected area
    • Menstrual cramps: Blend 4 drops jasmine, 4 drops clary sage and 2 drops lavender with 5 tsp sweet almond oil. Massage in the abdominal region and around the lower back
    • Stomach cramps: Add 2 drops cardamom, 2 drops basil and 3 drops marjoram to 2 tsp of carrier oil and massage over stomach and abdomen

    Want to get started with your essential oil arsenal? Check out Pharmaca’s extensive line of essential oils for pain relief.

  • Essential Oil of the Month: Tea Tree

    Tea tree oil can be found in almost everything these days. It’s taken from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, native to the northeast coast of Australia, and has long been used by Australian aborigines for its healing properties.

    What it does
    Tea tree’s antibacterial and antiviral properties make it a healing tool for everything from acne to sunburn to infections. As such, tea tree oil can be a valuable addition to a summer first aid kit.

    Bonus use
    Tea tree can be an effective household cleaner—simply combine 2 teaspoons oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.

    Ways to use it

    • Add to unscented body care (e.g. lotion, shampoo or conditioner) to increase their effectiveness. Tea-tree infused shampoo can even help combat dandruff and head lice.
    • Apply to blemishes several times a day (with a cotton swab) to speed healing
    • Add a few drops to a bowl of steaming water and inhale to promote respiratory clearing. Can also be added to a vaporizer or to a hot bath.

    Interesting tidbit
    Bees that feed on flowers of the Manuka bush, a close relative of the tea tree plant, produce Manuka honey, also known for its antibacterial properties.

  • Make your own bug spray

    While we love Pharmaca's all-natural bug repellents (check out Badger's Anti-Bug Balm or Quantum's Buzz Away), we also like the idea of making our own insect repellent with a few of our favorite essential oils.

    According to an article in Whole Living, "Essential oils that have pungent, spicy, or woodsy odors repel insects by masking our natural scent." They offer up this recipe for a DIY repellent,  perfect for mixing in one of our My Own Blend bottles:

    5 drops patchouli essential oil
    2 ounces of witch hazel
    8-10 drops of cedarwood essential oil

    Apply frequently on clothes (don't spray on face). Enjoy the outdoors!

    Read more at Bugs-Be-Gone Spray Recipe
  • Products we love: Muscle Remedy Massage Oil

    This year Pharmaca began formulating our own line of massage oils and lotions. They’re filled with pure essential oils that make massage a warm, aromatherapeutic experience.

    We especially love our Muscle Remedy Massage Oil because it’s great for soothing tired muscles. A combination of camphor, juniper, rosemary and sweet birch oil make for a warming, relaxing oil that’s perfect for a post-workout massage, or just to soothe tight muscles.

    And now through June 7—take $1 off Muscle Remedy and any of our other Massage Oils and Lotions. Just use code MASSAGE at checkout.

  • Essential Oil of the Month: Rosemary

    Rosemary is one of those quintessential herbs that add flavor to almost any dish. It's native to the Mediterranean region, and is a member of the mint family. Maybe that's why, as an essential oil, it's known for its ability to revitalize and clarify.

    What it does
    Rosemary has been clinically shown to improve cognition, increase alertness and elevate mood. Another study showed that rosemary's active ingredient, carnosic acid, can shield the brain from free radicals that contribute to stroke and other neuro-degenerative conditions (when taken internally).

    Bonus use
    Rosemary has anti-bacterial properties that can make it useful as a household cleaner or disinfectant.

    Ways to use it

    • Inhale directly from the bottle to feel energized
    • Add 5-10 drop to a carrier oil for a nourishing scalp massage
    • Pour a few drops on a damp cloth and wipe down bathroom and kitchen surfaces--any areas you want to disinfect.

    Interesting tidbit
    Rosemary is so at home in the Mediterranean that it is thought to survive only on the humidity brought on sea breezes. In fact, the herb's name originated from the Latin rosmarinus, which is from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus).

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