Pharmaca Blog

  • Natural treatments for canker sores and cold sores

    Canker sores are painful, open sores in the mouth that are white or yellow and surrounded by a bright red area. The exact cause of canker sores is not known, but stress and tissue injuries have been known to lead to the development of these often-embarrassing sores. A niacin deficiency may also contribute to the eruption of canker sores. Treatment for canker sores and natural canker sore remedies are available Pharmaca.

    There are two types of canker sores:

    • Simple canker sores: May appear three or four times per year and last up to a week, typically. Simple canker sores are most often suffered by people ages 10-20.
    • Complex canker sores: Less common and occur more often in people who have chronic canker sore outbreaks.

    There are some warning signs of canker sores:

    • A tingling or burning sensation will occur prior to the appearance of the canker sore.
    • Evident sores inside your mouth, including on the tongue, soft palate or inside of the cheeks.
    • Sores that are round, white, or gray and with a red border.
    • In severe cases, you may experience fever, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy.

    A cold sore, on the other hand, is the common name for Herpes Labialis, a disease caused by infection of the mouth due to Herpes Simplex 1 Virus Type 1. Herpes Simplex 2 is more commonly referred to as genital herpes.

    A cold sore outbreak typically involves:

    • A rash or skin lesions around the lips, mouth and gums
    • Development of small, fluid-filled blisters
    • Raised, red, painful blisters
    • Broken and oozing blisters
    • Yellow crust that sloughs off to reveal healing skin underneath

    There are many natural canker sore remedies available at Pharmaca; if you’re suffering from one, check out our entire line of treatment for canker sore options now!


  • 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
  • High praise for mineral sunscreen

    The question just seems to keep coming up--how do I choose which sunscreen is right for me? Are there mineral sunscreens that won't turn my skin white? In a recent article in Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper, Camille Capone, an esthetician at our North Boulder store, helped suss out what's best.

    "Mineral sunscreens actually create a seal on the skin that reflects the sun," Camille said. That means less absorption, better reflection and, unlike chemical sunscreens, you don't have to apply them 30 minutes before being in the sun. She loves Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30.

    The Environmental Working Group has long been preaching about the safety and effectiveness of mineral sunscreens, and the article cites new nanotechnologies that are making minerals lighter and more invisible on the skin.

    So don't be daunted by the white skin--if you haven't tried a mineral sunscreen yet, stop in to Pharmaca to speak with an esthetician about the latest and greatest in mineral sun protection.

  • Upcoming webinar with Dr. Bruce Price

    Interested in what you can be doing preventively to keep your brain and memory going strong as you age? Pharmaca is proud to be hosting a free webinar with Dr. Bruce Price of our Integrative Health Advisory Board.

    Boost Your Brain:
    How to maintain good memory and cognitive function as you age

    Wednesday, July 20, 11am PDT/12pm MDT

    Join Dr. Bruce Price, associate professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, as he offers expert advice on supplements and lifestyle changes to keep your brain working smarter at any age.

    Register now and submit your questions! Everyone who attends will receive $10 good toward future shopping purchases in stores and online.


  • Do you know Jurlique? Indulge now...and take 20% off!

    Jurlique has been perfecting plant-based skin care for more than 25 years. Based in Australia, Jurlique has always placed an emphasis on connecting with the earth and hand-crafting specialized formulas from nature’s most perfect ingredients. From biodynamically farmed herbs and flowers—grown on their own 153-acre farm—to Australian superfruits, nothing but the best ingredients go in each Jurlique product.

    And, in the month of July you can save 20% on Jurlique’s entire line of skin care, both in our stores and online! This rare event is the perfect time to try their Herbal Recovery line, a cult classic that customers love for its potent blend of age-defying antioxidants and precious plant oils.

    Here at the Pharmaca office, we’re addicted to their Rose Hand Cream, an ultra-rich smoothing cream that makes your hands softer than you could ever dream (try all four amazing scents with this Hand Cream sampler—perfect for gift-giving).

    We also love their Calendula Cream, a practitioner-recommended treatment that’s ideal for soothing wind- and sunburnt skin, especially good during the summer. The Calendula Cream also packs in macadamia and avocado oils, aloe vera and herbs specially selected for their healing and toning properties.

    If you haven’t discovered the utter luxury of Jurlique yet, take advantage of our July sale to treat yourself to something wonderful. Read more about the Jurlique story...

  • Which Sleep Supplement is Right For Me?

    Losing sleep isn’t something to casually ignore--too little sleep can cause all kinds of health issues, from poor work performance to inability to lose weight to some chronic diseases. If you’re confused about which ingredients do what, here’s some information about common elements in our most popular sleep formulas.

    5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP):
    In the body L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which can then be converted to serotonin, which affects sleep, appetite, as well as depression and anxiety. Commercially available 5-HTP is isolated from a seed from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia.
    One to try: Pharmaca’s 5-HTP

    Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid (GABA):
    In the central nervous system, GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it slows down the synapses that overfire (usually due to too much stress). Supplemental GABA is created as a byproduct of the fermentation process of Lactobacillus hilgardii
    Try it in: NightRest by Source Naturals, which includes GABA, melatonin, skullcap and other relaxing herbs.

    Primarily a temperate European plant, hops contain several different flavonoids and other ingredients that help calm the nervous system. It packs a powerful punch, so it’s best when used in combination with other less powerful sedative herbs.
    Find it in: Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep Tonic

    An amino acid found in green tea, as well as in some mushrooms, L-Theanine has historically been used for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects; it's thought that it might work for anxiety by increasing levels of GABA and serotonin. While it won’t necessarily put you to sleep, it can help slow racing thoughts.
    One to try: Natural Factors’ Suntheanine

    Lemon Balm: A member of the mint family, lemon balm contains volatile oils, in particular citral and citronellal, that can calm the central nervous system and have a relaxing effect on the muscles.
    Find it in: Lemon Balm Force by New Chapter

    : This hormone plays a vital role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythms, endocrine secretions and sleep patterns. Melatonin works best to enhance sleep if the body is lacking in the hormone (and can actually cause wakefulness if the body has too much). Dr. Jacobs recommends 1-3 mg, about 30 minutes before sleep.
    One to try: Source Naturals’ Sublingual Melatonin

    This herb grows uncultivated in North America, and is traditionally used to calm anxiety. “Skullcap is a good mental relaxer, says Julie Plunkett, medical herbalist at Pharmaca La Jolla. “It’s what we call the herb for over-thinking.”
    Find it in: WishGarden Herbs’ Sleepy Nights

    Valerian: Native to Europe and Asia, valerian has been used as a sedative medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Dr. Brad Jacobs recommends finding a formula that includes at least .3% of valerenic acid, and taking it 30-60 minutes before sleep.
    One to try: Gaia Herbs’ Valerian Root

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner for more information about sleep-specific supplements.

  • Prenatal vitamins shown to reduce the risk of autism

    A new study in the journal Epidemiology showed that mothers who took prenatal vitamins in the three months prior to conception had a significantly reduced risk of having children with autism or related autism spectrum disorders. The research, out of UC – Davis, suggests that taking high-quality, folate-rich prenatals before getting pregnant may help reduce risk of these increasingly common disorders by 40 percent.

    The study assessed 532 children with autism or related disorders and compared them with 278 children with normal development. Research found that mothers of children with autism were less likely to report having taken prenatal vitamins during the three months before pregnancy or the first month of pregnancy (than mothers of normally developing children).

    The moral of the story? If you plan on getting pregnant soon, start taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin now. One of Pharmaca’s best-sellers is New Chapter’s Perfect Prenatal, especially high in folate, which is also key in preventing neural tube defects.

  • Ask a Practitioner: How can I naturally lower my cholesterol?

    We get questions nearly every day via Ask a Practitioner from people with a variety of health concerns. Our practitioners take turns answering these questions, offering advice based on their experience and expertise. Every now and then we post some of these questions with the hopes that our practitioners' advice can help answer some of your health questions.

    Q. I've been taking Lipitor to lower my cholesterol, but I'm worried about the side effects. What are some natural options to cholesterol control?

    A. There are many natural solutions to high cholesterol. With that being said, you should always consult with your doctor before going off a medication so they can be informed and lower your doses appropriately. If you were to safely go off Lipitor, there are many dietary and supplement recommendations that you can try.

    The first recommendation I always start with is fiber, since increasing your dose of daily fiber is essential to good lipid health. Another dietary recommendations is including one serving of soy per day in your diet. Garlic also has very beneficial effects for cholesterol.

    Some common supplements that can be beneficial are Red Yeast Rice, B vitamins, policosanols, artichoke and plant sterols. We sell a product at Pharmaca called Meta-sitosterol 2.0 by Metagenics, which contains only the plant sterols in high doses. Another one of my favorites is Cho-Less by Natura. There are many formulas of herbs and nutrients that combine all of these ingredients together that can be very effective.

    After you consult with your physician, stop by one of our locations and a practitioner can help you select a few products that would be best for you.
    -Shannon Wood, Naturopath, San Francisco

    The information provided here is intended for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  • Product Spotlight: Dr. Hauschka

    If you've never tried this luxurious German line of skin care, you should know that it's one of Pharmaca's top-sellers. Hauschka offers the best in botanical ingredients in everything from shampoos to hand creams to cosmetics.

    The majority of ingredients in Dr. Hauschka's products are grown either biodynamically or organically, and all with a great deal of thought and consideration for the earth's natural growing processes. Their ingredient philosophy is a perfect fit on Pharmaca's beauty shelves.

    Dr. Hauschka skin care has been available in the US since 1972, and its popularity has grown as people have discovered the simple efficacy of their products. People love the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream, especially great when followed by another customer favorite, the Rose Day Cream. Hauschka even offers homeopathic remedies to create a complete wellness regimen for your skin and body.

    Because it's one of our best-sellers, Pharmaca offers a lot of great sales on the whole Dr. Hauschka line. This month? The entire line is 20% off. Check back for different Gift with Purchase offers, too—they're the perfect way to discover Hauschka!

    Already love Hauschka? Write a review of your favorite product and tell us why!

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