Pharmaca Blog

  • The Practice of Aging Gracefully

    Good nutrition and supplementation are a vital part of creating a foundation for optimal health. But there are other practices that can also help your body fight the effects of stress and add life to your years. A plethora of research is now showing that participating in regular practices like yoga, meditation and tai chi can help ease the aging process by boosting heart health, strengthening your body, reducing inflammation and more.

    Tai Chi

    This ancient practice mixes physical movement with meditation and martial arts. Different forms of tai chi have been practiced for hundreds of years in China as a form of fighting, and more recently the exercise has expanded throughout the world. (Find out more about the origins and benefits of tai chi from the Mayo Clinic.)

    The good news is that it's a low-impact exercise, meaning people of all ages can participate by adjusting the intensity of their practice. Here are a few recent studies that show how tai chi can address a variety of health issues:

    Tai chi for older people reduces falls, may help maintain strength

    Two different studies showed that older adults showed a marked improvement in balance, strength and agility after learning tai chi.

    Tai chi can reduce pain and increase physical functioning in arthritis patients

    A study from Tufts University on patients with severe knee arthritis showed that an hour of tai chi, twice a week for 12 weeks, reduced pain and increased physical function more than standard stretching.

    Find a local tai chi class or club by contacting your local YMCA or community center. And, if you or someone you know lives in the Boston area, Harvard University is currently recruiting adults ages 50-79 to participate in a six-month study on the effects of tai chi on overall health.


    Discover what yogis around the world know about this practice-it can relieve stress, strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility, a recipe for aging well. According to the American Yoga Association, it's been around for more than 5,000 years, and there are now more than 100 different types of yoga. Literally meaning "to join or yoke together," yoga brings together the mind and body in one holistic practice (learn more about the history of yoga).

    The yoga practice can also be adjusted for students of all ages and capabilities, and has been shown to dramatically improve health and longevity. Whether you practice every day or just a few times a week, yoga can be a vital way to reconnect your mind and body. Here's some recent research on the health benefits of yoga:

    Yoga reduces inflammation and the effects of stress in women

    An Ohio State University study showed that women who had been regularly practicing yoga at least twice a week for two years were much better at recovering from stress and had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

    Yoga helps chronic back pain

    A brand-new study, organized in part by the National Center for Complementary Medicine, showed that people with chronic low back pain who took 12 weekly classes saw "clinically important improvements in their back-related dysfunction," which lasted well past the end of the study.

    Read more about specific yoga poses that can alleviate symptoms of menopause from Yoga Journal, check out Gaiam Life's guide to simple anti-aging yoga poses, or shop yoga products from Gaiam Life.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Meditation
    Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an emerging practice that draws from the tenets of meditation and yoga, and involves a focus on breathing and awareness of your present surroundings. (Dr. Bradly Jacobs, the chair of our Integrative Health Advisory Board, recommends learning more about MBSR here.)

    By increasing our awareness of the connection between body and mind through meditation or MBSR, we can take control of common health issues such as pain, menopausal symptoms and stress. Here are some recent studies on the benefits of mindfulness:

    Mindfulness lessens pain
    A study done at Wake Forest University showed that participants who were trained in mindfulness through four 20-minute sessions felt pain at a much lower level of intensity and unpleasantness than those who were not trained. Researchers concluded that mindfulness helps the brain restructure itself and take control of sensory experiences.

    Mindfulness soothes the discomfort of hot flashes
    Scientists at the University of Massachusetts showed that women trained in mindfulness felt less discomfort associated with their hot flashes (and slept better!).

    Meditation good for heart health
    A 1991 study reviewed the effects of Dhammakaya Buddhist meditation on markers for heart health in men. The meditating men saw significantly reduced cortisol levels and blood pressure, all good for keeping your heart calm and healthy.

    Whichever you choose, these practices can be integrated into a good supplement regimen--check out some of our favorite healthy aging supplements

  • Is TV Shortening Your Life?

    Who doesn't like to settle in to a Friday night movie with a bowl of popcorn after a long, hard workweek? If that’s your idea of heaven, consider this: A recent study by the University of Queensland and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in August claims that for every 60 minutes of television we watch after the age of 25, our life is shortened by almost 22 minutes! If the information in this Australian report is true, then watching too much television ranks right up there with smoking and obesity as health hazards. Of course, there are unknown variables that probably go along with television watching that also lend themselves to increased mortality

    When it comes to which activities you choose to engage in when relaxing, consider exploring outdoor (or even indoor) fun activities that don’t require turning on TV. Be creative (or check out these family-friendly activities from Parents) and know that it’s important to be paying as much attention to how you treat your body as you do to what you put in your body.

  • The Link Between Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Diabetes Risk

    Diabetes, which affects more than 23 million Americans, is the most common disorder of the endocrine system and occurs when blood sugar levels in the body are consistently higher than they should be. Approximately 3.4 million people die from diabetes each year; the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts diabetes-related deaths will double between 2005 and 2030. While type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's inability to make insulin, type 2 diabetes is caused by the body not responding to the effects of insulin. Unlike type 1, which is genetic, many experts believe that type 2 is largely preventable.

    According to three new studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking in an increased amount of omega-3 fatty acids from marine and plant sources may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Omega-3s are an unsaturated fatty acid found predominantly in fish oils and plant seed oils, and are an essential nutrient that most people simply don't get enough of in their regular diet. There are three main omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. Fish, especially fatty fish (cod, salmon, trout, mackerel, haddock), is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

    The AJCN published the results of three studies--two on Chinese subjects and one on US subjects. The first Chinese study included data collected from more than 150,000 men and women and found that plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, while the second Chinese study found that omega-3 acids from fish sources was associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk. The second study also showed that females responded better than males to the intake of omega-3s from fish. The US study followed 3,000 older men and women and found that both omega-3 fatty acids from fish and plant sources were associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

    Regardless of your age or where you live, it seems that omega-3 fatty acids from fish and plants can help reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease. Ask your Pharmaca practitioner about how omega-3 fatty acids can be taken safely to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • Controlling Inflammation: The Secret to Aging?

    Want to learn more about the link between aging and inflammation? We found this fascinating article from Discover Magazine about how inflammation may be the most controllable element in the aging process.

    "When you start to think about aging as a consequence of start to see old age in a different, much more hopeful light. If decrepitude is driven by an overactive immune system, then it is treatable. And if many chronic diseases share this underlying cause, they might all be remedied in a similar way. The right anti-inflammatory drug could be a panacea, treating diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and even cancer." 

    But prescription drugs aren't the only solution to inflammation. Exercise, diet and herbal remedies can all play a vital role in controlling inflammation throughout our lives. Read more about our practitioners' recommendations.

    Here are a few other resources that can help:

  • What Do You Know About Echinacea?

    Echinacea has become a go-to herb for boosting immunity and is now a staple in many people’s medicine cabinets. But do you know just how long it’s been around? Archeological digs show that Native Americans used echinacea for more than four centuries to treat wounds and infections and as a general cure-all. At other points in history, echinacea has been used to treat malaria, syphilis, scarlet fever and blood poisoning. Echinacea was most popular in the United States in the 1800s and 1900s, but, like many alternative therapies, its popularity declined after the introduction of antibiotics.

    Today, we use echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and the flu and to reduce symptoms such as sore throat, cough and fever. Echinacea is reported to boost the immune system and help fight infections. While the benefits of echinacea have long been debated in the medical community, many of our customers report that taking echinacea at the onset of a cold reduces their symptoms and shortens the length of time they have a cold. (Click here for a full round-up of recent research studies done on echinacea.)

    If you love echinacea—or even if you’ve never tried it—check out Pharmaca’s full line of echinacea and other nutritional supplements, such as zinc, to help fight colds and infections. We offer Echinacea in various forms including soft gels, fluid, capsules, and tablets. (As with any herbal supplement, you should always consult your doctor before taking it as there are possible interactions with certain prescribed medications including immunosuppressants, some cancer treatments and Econazole, an antifungal agent.)

  • New Season, New Look: Fall Makeup Trends

    Ready for a new look? Get inspired by the latest colors and trends from our favorite cosmetics lines. We got some natural makeup tips from our expert estheticians on playing up your features this season.

    Victoria H., Esthetician, Menlo Park Pharmaca

    What's new for fall makeup? Keep the eyes neutral and warm up your colors by playing up your lips and cheeks.

    If you’re not quite ready to cover up and you’re still wearing tops that bare your shoulders and décolleté, dust on some Moonglow Bronzer by jane iredale. It’ll add just a hint of color—with shimmer—to replace a fading summer tan.


    Harmony C., Esthetician
    Monterey Pharmaca

    "Dark greens and purples seem to be the theme of the fall season," says Harmony. Here are a few of her new favorites:

    jane iredale Mystikol eyeliner  

    Harmony says smoky eyes are easier with iredale’s Mystikol, because the wider tip creates an instant smudged look. She says to dip it in the cap only once and keep applying until it’s blended well. Try it in purpley Amethyst or bright-green Aquamarine.

    Dr. Hauschka Lip Gloss

    Harmony says two of the newest colors from Hauschka are very of-the-moment—choose from the mauvey-soft Antique Rose (05) or rich Blackberry (06). Plus, they’re infused with mango butter and apricot kernel oil to keep lips moisturized and protected.

    She also likes jane iredale’s brand-new Lip Fixation in Relish—a shimmery plum lip stain on one end with a glittery clear gloss on the other. Pair any of these with a metallic evening dress and you’re ready for a night on the town!

    SpaRitual Nail Lacquers

    This fall’s Wilde Collection from SpaRitual gives off an earthy, tribal feel—think glamour in the jungle! Check out bright colors like Rhythm of Life (a sparkly teal) and Instinct (a glossy purple). And because they’re free of formaldehyde and toluene, you can feel good about putting them on your fingers and toes.

    Come find your new fall look at Pharmaca today!

  • Manuka Honey: Nature's Antibiotic

    All of the sudden everyone's talking about Manuka honey--or "nature's antibiotic." It's not just a good-for-you way to sweeten tea, it's also great for boosting digestive health or even dressing a wound for faster healing.

    We learned awhile ago that the manuka bush, native to Australia and New Zealand, is a close relative of the powerfully antibacterial tea tree plant, so it follows that bees that feed on the flowers of the manuka bush would somehow translate the anti-bacterial properties of the plant into their honey. Researchers have indeed tested manuka honey on a variety of infectious bacteria, and have found astonishing results in its effectiveness at fighting infection. Just smear into a cut or burn--just like you would an antibiotic cream--and let the honey do its work.

    Pharmaca now carries Wedderspoon's Manuka Honey, versatile enough to keep in your tea cupboard or in your first aid kit! You'll also find it in some of Andalou Naturals' fabulous hair products. And don't miss out on all these other great ways to use a lip balm...dry elbow reliever..sore throat booster. It really is a wonder food!

  • Cloud B Products and Better Sleep for Baby

    Proper sleep is essential for a healthy, developing child. Discover Cloud B’s soothing products, which are specially designed to help children sleep better.

    Created in conjunction with a certified board of pediatricians, Cloud B’s products help soothe the senses by creating a peaceful environment and ease a child’s fear of the dark—perfect companions for your child’s bedside.

    Older children will love Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, plush toys that project a starry night sky on your child’s bedroom ceiling. Just switch it on and walls are covered with eight actual constellations, which children can learn how to identify with the accompanying illustrated Storybook and Star Guide. Fun for children of all ages!

    To create the most calming sound environment for infants, choose Sleep Sheep On The Go, which can play one of four unique sounds, including gentle stream, spring showers, ocean waves or whale songs. It’s compact enough to take with you whether you’re strolling in the park or on vacation, and ideal to help children get to sleep when they’re in unfamiliar environments.

    Cloud B’s multi-award winning products have become leaders in helping children sleep, allowing both parents and their children to have a good night’s rest.

  • Vitamin D Deficient? You May be Prone to Muscle Injury and Alzheimer's

    Add stronger muscles to the ever-growing list of reasons to take vitamin D. Scientists recently discovered that a lack of vitamin D could result in muscle injuries in athletes; another group of scientists found that vitamin D can help to remove plaques in the brain that have long been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive form of dementia that afflicts millions of people. Because it’s hard to get enough vitamin D in your diet, our practitioners strongly recommend that you get you ensure you’re getting your recommended daily allowance through a vitamin D supplement.

    For decades, researchers have been telling us about the health benefits of vitamin D:

    • Maintains bone health
    • Enhances immunity
    • Helps quell the proliferation of cancer cells
    • Reduces inflammation
    • Aids in the digestive process
    • Lowers risk of bacterial infections
    • Supports mood stability
    • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and bladder, breast, colon, ovarian, prostate and rectal cancers.

    Athletes who are vitamin D deficient and muscle Injury

    A study was recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine linking vitamin D deficiency to a risk of muscle injuries in athletes. The study indicated that NFL players were especially prone to vitamin-D deficiency-related muscle injuries.

    The research team, led by Dr. Michael Shindle of Summit Medical Group, studied 89 players from one NFL team. The players’ vitamin D levels were measured in the spring of 2010. Data about which players missed games due to muscle injuries was collected, and vitamin D levels were tracked. The results indicated that many of the physically fit NFL players suffered a substantial lack of vitamin D. Specifically, 27 players were “dramatically deficient,” while 45 had “levels consistent with insufficiency.” Only 17 of the 89 players in the test group had vitamin D levels within normal limits. The results? The 16 players who suffered the most muscle injuries also had the lowest vitamin D levels.

    Vitamin D deficiency and Alzheimer's disease

    Research recently published in the journal Fluids and Barriers of the CNSindicates that vitamin D may also assist in the removal of plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers gave vitamin D injections to mice with amyloid beta plaques—considered the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease--in their brains and found that vitamin D therapy helped remove the plaques. Considering the aggressive, destructive nature of this form of dementia, this research is very exciting news for the medical community and the general public.

    Want to learn more about the benefits of vitamin D and how much you should really be taking? Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Magnesium Supplement: Hot Flash Relief

    Good news from researchers about reducing the symptoms of menopause, even if you're a breast cancer survivor: Magnesium can reduce hot flashes caused by breast cancer drugs. A recent study published in Natural Standard shows that breast cancer patients taking magnesium supplements experienced fewer hot flashes per week than women not taking the supplement. Hot flash relief is here, ladies!

    Women who survive breast cancer often experience hot flashes from the anti-estrogen treatment, tamoxifen (brand name Nolvadex). Aromatase inhibitors also cause severe hot flashes in breast cancer patients. In the study, 20 breast cancer patients experiencing at least 14 hot flashes per day were given magnesium oxide at 400 mg per day for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg a day if necessary (which it was in 17 of the 20 patients). The key findings of the study were that magnesium supplementation significantly reduced the frequency of hot flashes (a 41.4 percent reduction), and more than half of the patients studied had a reduction of more than 50 percent. There were also significant reductions in fatigue, sweating and distress.

    Magnesium can be powerful for a lot of other health issues, too. Additional health benefits of magnesium include a reduction in cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, migraines, asthma and so much more (Find out more here!).

    Shop Pharmaca’s complete line of magnesium—our customers love Pure Essence Ionic Fizz Magnesium and Floradix’s Liquid Magnesium. Talk to a Pharmaca practitioner about the right magnesium for you!

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