Pharmaca Blog

  • Simple Steps to a Less Stressful Holiday

    Beautiful woman doing meditation.Don’t let your holiday to-do list take away from the joys of the season! Integrate a few simple practices into your day to ensure you stress less, stay healthy and feel rested.

    Take a few moments for yourself. Whether it’s a luxurious bath or just a quick nap, boost your relaxation quotient by setting a serene mood for a mini getaway. Light up a candle from Tru Melange that’s been infused with essential oils—especially calming oils like lavender, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Adding a few drops of the same essential oils to a diffuser can be even more powerful. We’re loving SpaRoom’s new Aroma Harmony diffuser, which also plays music via Bluetooth and displays different colored lights. Set it next to the bathtub for an instant spa!

    Don’t forget to exercise. A consistent exercise program helps the body improve its response to stress, and releases calming, mood-boosting hormones. Whether it’s a full yoga class or just a 15-minute walk, regular activity is vital to our physical and emotional health.

    Take comfort in soothing herbs. For extra-stressful times, support your system with WishGarden’s Deep Stress, a blend of calming herbs such as ginseng, skullcap and nettle leaf. Take it preventively throughout a stressful period, or just whenever you need relief from in-the-moment stress.

    Watch your diet. Eating lots of fruits and veggies—and restricting caffeine, alcohol and refined carbs—can go a long way toward nourishing the adrenal glands and supporting your body’s stress response, says Kate Brainard, ND. More specifically, she recommends increasing potassium, reducing sodium and adding in plenty of fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.

    Get adequate sleep. Sleeping well is vital to equipping your body to handle the stresses of the day. Unfortunately, stress is just the thing that can keep us up at night! That’s where herbs and other nutrients like melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine come in, since they can help calm the mind. In addition, herbs such as passionflower and valerian are soothing and relaxing to the nervous system. Kate recommends Natural Factors’ Tranquil Sleep (a blend of melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine), Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc., or Bach’s Rescue Sleep.

    Ask a practitioner for customized advice for easing seasonal stress.

  • The 5 Best Gifts For Her This Holiday

    For the women in your life, cover all your gift-giving bases with a wide selection of joyful gifts from Pharmaca. Dive in and find the perfect gift for her this holiday season!


    Give her a spa day...without having to go to the spa

    Avene Revitalizing Hydration Kit

    This French skin care is loved for its secret ingredient: the mineral-rich thermal waters of Avene, a tiny town in the south of France. For centuries, Avene’s springs have been revered for their powerful healing benefits, and the town has become a pilgrimage destination for those seeking the spring’s skin-healing properties. Give the gift of an at-home spa day with this hydration kit, including travel-friendly Thermal Spring Water mist, Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream, Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum and Micellar Lotion Cleanser Make-up Remover—all in a stylish and portable zippered bag.


    Ensure pretty, protected hands

    Jurlique Petite Hand Care Collection

    Jurlique offers its petite hand care collection in limited edition Lavender, Citrus and Jasmine scents, as well as their signature Rose Hand Cream. Botanically infused and deeply moisturizing, these gorgeously packaged hand creams are perfect to stow in a handbag, car or desk for instant hydration and protection. Give her the whole set—or get four gifts in one!


    Bring warmth to a cold winter’s day

    Tea Forte PUGG Ceramic Tea Pot

    Brew the perfect cup of tea in the perfect little pot. The experts at Tea Forte perfected the art of serving up a piping hot cup with this adorable ceramic tea pot, generously serving tea for two using either loose leaf or tea bags. With a festive snowflake design, she’ll look forward to each cup. Rather forget about the chill outside altogether? This sweet little pot is also available in cheerful Cherry Blossom, Poppy Field or Spring Grass design.


    Soothe and relax tired muscles

    ElizabethW Hot-Cold Wrap

    Soothe tired muscles in style with elizabethW’s Hot-Cold Wrap. An insert of calming flaxseed and lavender is covered in a silky case—choose from Midnight Garden, Venetian Blue, red silk or soft grey wool designs. The perfect stocking stuffer, this wrap can be heated up or cooled down for instant muscle and joint relief.


    Help her fight dryness with nourishing argan oil

    Pre De Provence Argan Essentials Set

    Pre de Provence’s luxurious argan oil-based products fight off winter dryness, returning skin to a naturally healthy state. Showcasing their “best of” products, this comprehensive Pre de Provence kit includes all the necessities—a rich, lathering mini bar soap, exfoliating body scrub, emollient body butter, body oil and gentle, foaming bath gel. Plus, this nifty little travel kit tucks neatly into your getaway bag for a post-holiday escape weekend in the sun and surf. Cabo, anyone?

  • Make Every Day a Spa Day!

    SpaLadyFor most parts of the country, November is when cold sets in, humidity substantially drops, we turn on heaters in our homes and cars, and our skin reflects the drying effects with redness, irritation, flakiness—even acne.

    But we can pre-empt the effects of these combined stressors with some of our practitioners’ favorite products, customized for different skin types. Pamper yourself with luxurious lotions, skin-saving serums and detoxifying masks—all wrapped up in a perfect package of natural, good-for-you ingredients. Bonus: These recommendations make great gifts! Check them out at a Spa Day Event near you.

    Dry/sensitive skin

    If your skin is sensitive or prone to dryness, slough away dulling surface cells before drenching it in soothing products that can calm irritations. “I recommend exfoliating several times a week to remove flaky skin for a dewy glow,” says Laeh Benjamin, esthetician at Pharmaca’s Table Mesa location.

    Start with Derma E's Microdermabrasion Scrub to gently scrub away dead skin. Follow with Jurlique’s Calendula line; calendula, which has long been used for its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, effectively addresses a variety of irritated skin problems and is a great solution for dry winter skin. Pair Jurlique’s Calendula Rescue Relief Restorative Treatment Serum with their Redness Rescue Relief Daily Moisturizer to absorb the full benefits of calendula’s healing properties. Benjamin also recommends a burst of hydration throughout the day. “There are some great hydration sprays out there—we like Sanitas’ Moisture Mist, which contains hyaluronic acid to help pull in and hold moisture to the skin.”

    Normal/combination skin

    Even normal skin can go unpredictably haywire in the harsh winter elements.Dry patches and less oil production in the T-zone can stress skin, leaving it uneven and unhappy. Use of retinoids and glycolic acid can also increase dryness in winter, so it may be beneficial to back off of these ingredients in favor of a milder, gentler regimen.

    A two-part routine may also be beneficial. “Using two different cleansers or moisturizers—one in the T-zone and another for outer cheeks—can balance out areas of the face where there may be heavier or lighter natural oil production in the skin,” explains Benjamin. Juice Beauty’s Daily Essentials line can be just the thing, featuring organic skin care products formulated for everyday use. Smooth on Juice Beauty’s Organic Treatment Oil, packed with antioxidant-rich organic cranberry seed, grape seed and carrot seed oils blended with essential fatty acids and botanicals that provide deep hydration. Follow up with Juice Beauty’s Nutrient Moisturizer, a rich and restorative plant-derived daily moisturizer.

    Oily skin

    Dry, cold air and changing seasons can sometimes kick your skin’s oil production into overdrive. Manage and maintain oily complexions with a few powerful products, starting with Astara’s Purifying Gel Cleanser. Follow it up with their Blue Flame Purification Mask, which isfortified with detoxifying, antibacterial and healing botanical agents, as well as soothing and hydrating bioactive components—making it ideal for blemished, acne-prone and oily skin, and for those exposed to environmental pollutants.

    Another one to try: Dr. Hauschka’s Blemish and Clarifying line, specially formulated for oily skin types, including a Clarifying Toner to help refine the appearance of large pores, neutralizing oil with all-natural plant extracts of anthyllis, calendula, nasturtium, echinacea, witch hazel and daisy. And Primavera’s Oil-Control Balancing Lotion includes rice silk powder to help improve absorption of natural ingredients like organic sage and grape essential oils, and leaves a soft, matte finish. “Balance is key,” says Benjamin. “Finding lighter-weight products, as well as a great cleansing routine, will help skin look its best.”

    For aging/mature skin

    Fine lines can deepen and become permanent without proper hydration.Restore moisture while brightening skin with Jurlique’s Purely Bright Facial Treatment Mask, an innovative mask that delivers their patented vitamin C-rich VitaBrightKX formula directly to the skin’s surface for even tone and skin brightening.

    Next, turn your attention to infusing skin cells with a boost of hydration.Peptides are important for plumping and smoothing, functioning as moisture-binding agents and assisting skin cells in repair and regeneration. MyChelle’s Peptide + Anti-Wrinkle Serum delivers a potent blend of peptides, argan plant stem cells, lipids and botanical extracts to boost collagen formation and reduce the signs of visible aging.

    Of course, it takes teamwork to get best results, and no hydrating team is complete without hyaluronic acid. As skin ages, it loses essential hyaluronic acid, a major supplier of moisture to the skin. Derma E’s Hydrating Day Creme with Hyaluronic Acid restores this much-needed element, and serves up a gorgeous glow to deprived winter skin. Benjamin agrees: “For aging skin, both peptides and hyaluronic acid are wonderful to keep moisture in the skin.” As skin’s surface cells experience renewal, Benjamin also recommends weekly exfoliation and using a hydration spray throughout the day to keep skin looking fresh.

    Just for men

    Take a gentlemen’s spa day—every day—with products tailored to your skin’s specific needs. Every Man Jack’s Signature Mint Face Scrub uses coconut-derived ingredients to cleanse, while jojoba beads exfoliate dry and dead skin, and marine extracts and vitamin E soothe and moisturize. Then, reach for Weleda's Men’s Moisture Cream, featuring jojoba oil to hydrate and marshmallow root to calm skin irritations. “Men love this product,” said Benjamin “It’s deeply moisturizing but lightweight—not too heavy.”

    For little ones

    Kids and babies can get in on spa day with formulas created specifically for delicateskin. Make bath time fuss-free with Babo Botanicals’ Oatmilk Bubble Bath, a rich, lathering bath that hydrates as it cleans. Follow the fun and lock in skin softness and hydration with Burt’s Bees' Baby Bee Nourishing Lotion. Post bath, Little Twig’s Conditioning Detangler makes for tear-free and easy brushing.

    At-Home Manis and Pedis

    Our hands take a lot of abuse, especially in the winter when dry knuckles and ragged cuticles prevail. Return your hands to their happy place by removing old polish with SpaRitual’s Extra Strength Conditioning Lacquer Remover, a non-drying, sugar-derived solvent that keeps nails from splitting and cracking.Neaten and tidy with Deborah Lippmann’s Cuticle Care Cuticle Remover, and SpaRitual's TrueBond Manicure System Mini Kit provides salon results with primer, basecoat and topcoat to preventing chipping and cracking. Finally, smooth on Pre de Provence’s 20% Shea Butter Hand Cream forlong-lasting, deep hydration to keep skin soft and provide a moisture barrier between you and the cold.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for more ideas for at-home spa pampering.

  • Fall Makeup Trends: From Neutral to Noticeable!

    Woman with makeup brushIf your go-to makeup products are all in the neutral brown, taupe or beige family, fall is the right time to bring in a splash of on-trend color. Adding a shimmery metallic eyeliner, colorful eyeshadow or berry-toned lipstick can brighten sallow fall skin and move you out of the neutral zone. For everyday wearability, be sure to choose just one feature to highlight with color or shine and keep the rest neutral.

    Bold lips

    Rich berry shades are the right choice to complement this year’s fall fashion colors. “Jane iredale’s new PureMoist Lipstick in Katerina is a deep berry that looks good on all skin tones,” says Lauren Mohney, esthetician in Carlsbad. For a more casual look, Lauren likes jane iredale’s PureGloss Lip Gloss in Kir Royale, a sheer plummy berry shade that treats lips with avocado oil, moringa seed oil and natural fruit extracts.

    Vivid eyes

    Metallics and bright colors are a great way to make eyes pop this fall. ZuZu Luxe eyeliners add a touch of metallic sheen, and Lauren likes ZuZu’s Liquid Eyeliner in Luxor, which is a coppery bronze that complements green eyes; Black Pearl, a shimmery black with blue undertones best for blue eyes; and Nile, a peacock green liner that’s fantastic for brown eyes.

    Colorful eyeshadows are another on-trend look, and using highly blendable formulas make these brights surprisingly easy to wear, both day and night. For a flash of color try jane iredale’s Pure Pressed Eye Shadow in Red Carpet, teal blue Magic or vibrant Violet. A little applied close to the lash line (not the whole eyelid) and blended lightly upward works best. Color and metallic combine in W3LL People’s Elitist Mineral Shadow in Gilded Green, a sheer wash of green that can be layered for a more dramatic look.

    With vivid color or metallic shadows, finish with black or dark brown eyeliner and mascara to look polished.

    If you are unwaveringly faithful to your neutral brown eyeshadow, turn to mascara for your pop of color. Dr. Hauschka’s Volume Mascara in Aubergine or Royal Blue adds subtle interest and makes the whites of your eyes appear brighter.

    Luminous cheeks

    Glowing, luminous cheeks are important this fall and easy to incorporate into our beauty routine. Jane iredale’s 24-Karat Gold Dust in Champagne, Silver or Gold brings just the right glimmer to cheekbones when applied lightly with a fan brush. Or add 24-Karat Gold Dust to your regular cream blush for a subtle glow.

    Knock-out nails

    If makeup with color and shimmer are out of your comfort zone, try incorporating fall trends with nail color! Dark berry shades like SpaRitual’s Nail Lacquer in Tapestry or metallic browns like Deborah Lippmann’s Superstar are just right for fall. And if your favorite summer polish was sky blue, transition to fall with SpaRitual’s Oasis, a rich shimmery navy.

  • Flu Prevention Basics (Video)

    Whether or not you got a flu shot this year, there are a few simple ways that you can help prevent influenza. Here, Dr. Tori Hudson, ND, talks about her recommendations for natural flu prevention, including nasal irrigation with sprays or neti pots, drinking green tea, taking elderberry supplements throughout the season and keeping Boiron's Oscillococcinum on hand to take at the first signs of flu. And don't forget to wash your hands frequently, drink lots of water and keep coughs covered!

  • My 3 Favorite Natural Cough & Cold Remedies (Video)

    Want effective, natural cough and cold remedies on hand when members of the family are sick? Learn about Dr. Tieraona Low Dog's must-have natural medicines that have been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold, including zinc, umcka loabo and elderberry.

  • Treating Chronic Constipation

    SpringladyConstipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints doctors see; experts say that at least 4.5 million people—the majority of them women—suffer from constipation symptoms that are serious enough to warrant medical attention. Because it can be an embarrassing topic, however, many patients self-treat their constipation and avoid discussing it with their doctor. Here are some ideas about why—and how—to treat chronic constipation.

    What is chronic constipation and why does it matter?

    For some, constipation can simply mean straining, and for others it means infrequent bowel movements (that differ from normal patterns for that individual). Most complementary and alternative medicine providers, myself included, would agree that a daily bowel movement—or even up to three per day—is optimal. But that might not be feasible for women, since their bowel movement frequency is generally less than that of men.[i] Studies have suggested that the majority of women have bowel movements every other day or less.[ii] Because there can be a wide range of what’s considered normal, from three times per week to three times per day, it is important to clarify what’s normal to you with your health care provider.

    The current standard definition of constipation means experiencing two or more of the following symptoms for three or more months, without the use of laxatives:

    • Straining with defecation more than 25 percent of the time
    • Lumpy or hard stools more than 25 percent of the time
    • Incomplete evacuation more than 25 percent of the time
    • Two or fewer bowel movements per week

    Chronic constipation can lead to a decrease in absorption of select nutrients, internal or external hemorrhoids, pelvic floor dysfunction (e.g. urinary incontinence, or bladder, rectal or uterine prolapse).

    How can laxatives support normal large intestine function and relieve constipation symptoms?

    Laxatives can be helpful temporary solutions to relieve symptoms and to help retrain the bowel. There are a variety of different types of laxatives that work in different ways. Here are the six basic laxative types.

    1. Bulk-forming laxatives.

    These can be derived from psyllium husks, ground flax seeds or methylcellulose, a synthetic material. Their basic function is to absorb water in the intestine to soften the stool, but they can also result in increased flatulence and bloating. They do act faster than food fiber but slower than other laxatives and typically take about a week to work. Bulk-forming laxatives improve transit time and are very compatible with increases in dietary fiber such as leafy greens, ground flax seeds sprinkled on whole grain, high-fiber cereals, and fresh fruits, especially berries.

    2. Emollients and stool softeners

    These agents aid the mixing of watery and fatty substances in the bowel both to soften the stool and to lubricate the stool so it can be passed easier. They also prevent dehydration of the stool by stimulating fluid secretion. Stool softeners can be taken orally or rectally and typically work very fast, usually within 24 hours, so they’re ideal for someone who is in pain because of hard stool. Glycerin suppositories or mineral oil are common examples, but mineral oil should be used sparingly because it can decrease absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Herbs such as buckthorn bark also serve as stool softeners.

    3. Saline laxatives

    Magnesium salts have been used for decades for constipation, and act fairly quickly. They work by exhibiting a sponge-like action that draws water into the colon to soften the stool and promote transit. When looking for an appropriate product, it’s important to note that magnesium sulfate is more potent than magnesium citrate or magnesium hydroxide and should be used with caution. In addition, individuals with renal impairment or hypertension should avoid saline laxatives.

    4. Hyperosmotics

    These are the newer laxatives on the block. Available as an oral prescription, hyperosmotics create a high concentration gradient to draw fluid out of the bloodstream and into the colon. Examples of hyperosmotics include lactulose, lactitol and sorbitol, and produce effects in 2-3 days. Note: Hyperosmotics can also produce some bloating and flatulence.

    5. Osmotics

    A polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution is what’s normally given to empty the colon before a colonoscopy. The good news is that it can also be used to treat severe fecal impaction. MiraLax is a newer prescription that uses polyethylene glycol to help relieve constipation.

    6. Bowel stimulants

    These laxatives stimulate sensory nerve endings in the colonic mucosa to trigger peristalsis. They also promote fluid secretion into the colon and improve the consistency of the stool. Aloe, senna, cascara sagrada and castor oil are all potent stimulants that can produce a rapid response. They should only be used for more severe cases and should not be used long term.

    Are there natural solutions to constipation that I should consider?

    Alternative medicine practitioners also often recommend these other methods of treating constipation:

    • Probiotics to help restore normal colonic microflora, specifically the lactobacillus species
    • Digestive enzymes, which enhance the digestive process
    • Bitters, which work by increasing the secretion of digestive fluids. Consider yellow gentian and dandelion root for this purpose. Dandelion root also helps stimulate gall bladder function and improve bile secretion.
    • Turkey rhubarb has been used as a purgative for at least 2,000 years, and encourages bowel movements by stimulating peristalsis
    • Triphala, whose use for chronic constipation is based on principles of Ayurveda. This unique combination of three herbs, or more specifically, three fruits, haritake, amla and bibitake, that gently stimulate the intestines, restore tone to the colon and thus enhance the elimination process while providing a cleansing effect.

    When it comes to chronic constipation, most individuals will only need reassurance, education and basic advice. Others will need further evaluation and/or more sophisticated treatment interventions, whether by exclusively natural methods, conventional methods or an integration of both.

    Working with your health care provider will help ensure that there is no significant underlying cause of your constipation. Your doctor can also help you get symptom relief, improve general health and provide prevention strategies for the future, all with minimal side effects.

    [i] Heaton K, Radvan J, Cripps H, et al. Defecation frequency and timing, and stool form in the general population: a prospective study. Gut. 1992; 33:818-824.
    [ii] Toglia M. Pathophysiology of anorectal dysfunction. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 1998; 25:771-780.

  • Prevent Respiratory Infection: Build Immunity Now!

    SnifflyboySeasons are shifting, school has started and germs are making their way around! The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) estimates 10-15 million viral respiratory infections affect Americans each year, with the season peaking in September and October.

    This year, a normally quiet virus strain—Enterovirus D68 (aka EV-D68)—has made headlines because it has caused the hospitalization of hundreds of children across the US. EV-D68 started appearing in force in the Midwest, but has now spread to Utah, Colorado and the northeastern states. In fact, more than 900 children in Denver, Colo. have visited the emergency room since August 18with a respiratory illness.

    There are many different strains of enteroviruses and generally they cause intense common cold symptoms. Though this particular strain, EV-D68, was first reported in the 1962, it has not seen an outbreak of this proportion until now. Top health officials at the CDC say this could be just the tip of the iceberg as far as the number of infections and hospital visits we will see this season.

    Other viruses such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)—common in the fall and winter months—can also infect young children and adults with low immunity, causing symptoms that last for 1-2 weeks and potentially pneumonia.

    Who is at risk and what are symptoms of respiratory virus and EV-D68?

    Anyone can be infected with a respiratory virus, but infants, children and teens are more susceptible because they haven’t built up immunity to the viruses. Children with asthma or prior respiratory problems are particularly vulnerable to EV-D68, which can cause severe symptoms or intensified breathing difficulties. Adults and the elderly with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk.

    Symptoms of respiratory virus infection include runny nose, sneezing, coughing and lethargy. Symptoms of EV-D68 start the same as other respiratory viruses, but the cough can become especially severe, including difficulty breathing or wheezing. It is sometimes also accompanied by fever and rash (note: experts recommend seeing a doctor immediately if you are experiencing this combination of symptoms).

    Prevention for respiratory viruses

    There is no specific conventional treatment for EV-D68 and there is currently no vaccination for it. Conventional medicine suggests getting plenty of rest and fluids and use of over-the-counter cold medicines.

    Practitioners of natural medicine, however, encourage patients to focus on building the immune system before sickness can take hold. The higher functioning your immune system is, the better chances you have of preventing contraction of EV-D68 and other germs going around this season. Beat the bug, don’t let the bug beat you!

    Follow these fundamentals to improve your chances at staying healthy:

    1) Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom or changing a diaper. Use hand sanitizer throughout the day for added protection.

    2) Avoid or limit your exposure to people showing symptoms of illness (including kissing, hugging, shaking hands and sharing food or utensils).

    3) Avoid or limit touching your face, mouth and eyes.

    4) Clean and disinfect surfaces often (e.g. countertops, toys, doorknobs, shared telephones).

    5) Get plenty of rest and decrease stress where possible, since stress can negatively affect your immunity.

    6) Eat a healthy, whole-foods diet balanced with bright-colored fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and adequate protein (avoid saturated fat, simple sugars and alcohol).

    7) Drink plenty of healthy fluids (e.g. water, herbal tea, electrolytes).

    8) Do your part and take care of yourself; stay home if you're not feeling well!


    Additionally, some of the products below can go a long way toward building your immune system.

    A high-potency multivitamin helps ensure adequate daily nutrition, especially for those that tend to stray from a whole-foods diet. Try New Chapter's One Daily for Adults and Rainbow Light's Kids One MultiStars for children.

    Vitamin D shows a broad range of immune-enhancing effects. Try Pharmaca brand for adults or kids.

    Herbal blends such as WishGarden's Daily Immune or Kick-Ass Immune for Adults or kids or Kick-it Immune for kids, which combine effective immune building and virus-resisting herbs.

    Elderberry is an antiviral that builds immunity, supports upper respiratory health and tastes good, too! Try Gaia Herbs' Black Elderberry Syrup for adults or kids.

    Vitamin C plays an important role in immune enhancement and is antiviral and antibacterial. Try vitamin C with bioflavonoids to help increase the beneficial effects of vitamin C. Try American Health's Ester C for adults or Bluebonnet's Super Earth Animalz Vitamin C for kids.

    Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit the gut, improving immunity and crowding out harmful bacteria. Try Udo’s Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic for adults or Pharmax's HLC Child for kids.

    Keep clean hands with Pharmaca's Organic Defense Hand Cleansing Spritz, which fights germs naturally without drying out your hands.

  • Superfood vs. Powerhouse Food: Why They're Not the Same Thing

    WatercressWe’ve been hearing about superfoods and superfruits for awhile—by now we know to stock up on kale and goji berries. Though these “super” labels are used often, many of them can be gimmicky catchphrases that don't have real scientific basis. Until now. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently developed a scientific classification scheme for vegetables and fruits that are jam-packed with nutrients and may reduce our risk of chronic disease. Here’s what you need to know about the proven heroes at your farmer's market or grocery store.

    What is a powerhouse food?

    The CDC defines Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables as naturally “nutrient-dense,” meaning they provide anywhere from 10 to 100 percent of our daily requirements of 17 beneficial nutrients: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K. These nutrients are essential for protection against chronic disease.

    Which foods were tested?

    For obvious reasons, the CDC tested foods that scientists had already linked to prevention of heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The foods fell into five categories of fruits and vegetables: cruciferous, green leafy, yellow/orange, allium (onion family), citrus and berries.

    Watercress in, blueberries out?

    So which made the cut? Of the 47 fruits and vegetables tested, the cruciferous and leafy green veggies overwhelmingly came out on top. Surprisingly, raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onion and blueberries did not make the list, even though they're rich in helpful antioxidants (so keep eating them!).

    Top 15 Powerhouse Fruits & Veggies

    Watercress 100.00 (wow!)
    Chinese cabbage 91.99
    Chard 89.27
    Beet greens 87.08
    Spinach 86.43
    Chicory 73.36
    Leaf lettuce 70.73
    Parsley 65.59
    Romaine lettuce 63.48
    Collard Greens 62.49
    Turnip Greens 62.12
    Mustard Greens 61.39
    Endive 60.44
    Chive 54.80
    Kale 49.07

    The next most powerful fruits and vegetables (with nutrient density ratings under 50) fall primarily into the yellow/orange category (red pepper, pumpkin, carrot, tomato and winter squash) and allium category (scallion, leek), followed by citrus (lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit) and berries (strawberry, blackberry).

    The Powerhouse list is a good starting point for choosing the veggies and fruits that give us the most bang for our buck. The CDC tested these foods in their raw state, and salads can be a great way to incorporate them into our diet. But cruciferous and leafy green vegetables are also a good addition to soups or stews, or simply sautéed.

    While the government's My Plate guidelines say fruits and veggies should make up 50 percent of each meal, don't forget about the important parts of a healthy diet—whole grains and lean proteins! Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about other ways to get all the nutrients you need in your diet.

  • Flu Shots Available Now at Pharmaca

    Flu season is nearly upon us--and Pharmaca has made it easier than ever to get your immunizations. All of our pharmacies can now provide shots to any customer who requests one during open pharmacy hours.

    In addition, Pharmaca will hold Flu Shot Clinics every Tuesday in September, October and November, between 2-6pm. Customers can bring their questions about immunization and other health concerns to pharmacists and practitioners, and receive personalized advice about their health. Plus, if you get a flu shot at Pharmaca and you're a Feel Better Rewards member, you'll receive a $5 gift coupon to use on any non-pharmacy purchase.

    “Pharmaca is proud to be an integrative solution for all of our customers’ health and wellness needs,” says Stuart Gratz, Pharmaca’s vice president of pharmacy operations. “By offering these immunizations at any time, we’re serving the needs of customers who feel that immunization is the best option for them—and making it most convenient for them.”

    As always, the CDC strongly encourages vaccination for every season, especially for children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes and other long-term conditions who are at high risk from flu complications. Learn more about the flu, including prevention and treatment, from the CDC.

    Plus, we've made the process even simpler by allowing patients to download and fill out Patient Intake Forms (PDF) ahead of time! Just bring it with you when you request your immunization. Speak with a pharmacist about your immunization needs.

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