Tag Archives: cold & flu

  • 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.

  • Humidifiers for Newborn Health

    babyFrom our friends at Crane USA

    When you bring your new baby home for the first time, you take note of every movement, noise and bodily function. One of the most common worries is if your baby is congested…have they already caught a cold? Stuffy, congested noses are often not the result of a cold, but simply the fact that for the first 4-5 months, babies can only breathe out of their noses.

    That can make breastfeeding difficult during those first five months if babies can’t breathe while their mouths are full. Nose-only breathing can make sleeping rough, too. That’s where cool mist humidifiers come in—the addition of moisture and humidity to baby’s room helps to open nasal passages, making it easier for babies to feed and sleep. Pediatricians specifically recommend cool mist humidifiers instead of warm mist humidifiers because the cool air can help to prevent croup, a persistent cough infants and children can get, as well as colds and the flu.

    Another great reason to run a humidifier in baby’s room: Germs travel faster in dry air, so the presence of moisture makes germs heavier, which means they move slower. This actually helps reduce the number of germs in the air, making the air in your home cleaner. And since cool mist humidifiers don’t get hot, you don’t have to worry about curious babies burning their fingers.

    For regular maintenance, Crane recommends dumping out excess water from the base and water tank each day and adding fresh water before running it again. About once a week, rinse out both the tank and the base of the humidifier with white vinegar and water. Simply mix two tablespoons of white vinegar and two cups of water and pour into the tank and the base. Let it sit in the base for 20-30 minutes to clean out any mineral or bacterial buildup. In the tank, add the white vinegar and water solution, put the water tank cap back on and shake, shake, shake! Doing this dance just once a week will help keep your humidifier and the mist it produces clean.

  • Neti for Cold and Flu

    Going back to school and heading into cold and flu season means our bodies can use all the immunity-boosting help they can get. Don’t overlook the power of the neti pot for daily support of your nasal passages, one of the body’s first lines of defense.

    The neti pot is a centuries-old Ayurvedic tradition that utilizes a salt and water mixture that is poured through the nostril.  "Neti is one of six cleansing measures that are very old yogic practices," says Sunny Rose, an Ayurvedic practitioner formerly at our Albuquerque store, who adds that jala neti means 'water cleansing.' "Yogis would do it as part of their daily measures to strengthen body and mind, and that's basically how we use it too."

    Indeed, daily cleansing helps sweep allergens, bacteria and viruses from the nasal passages, thereby reducing the chances of infection or allergic reaction. “The saltwater will also help decrease inflammation in the nasal passages,” says Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor at our Monterey store. “When your mucosal membrane isn’t inflamed, it’s stronger and healthier.” Ashleigh adds that the less inflamed it is, the more likely it is to prevent fungal, bacterial or viral infections that can lead to cold and flu.

    But nasal rinsing can also be helpful when a cold or congestion does hit. According to a 2007 study in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, nasal washing can be more effective than nasal sprays at clearing chronic congestion. Saline solution helps flush out excess mucous as well as pollen and other irritants. That's why experts recommend a daily wash—whether in the middle of pollen-producing spring or cold and flu season—as follows:

    1) Fill a clean neti pot or squeeze bottle with 1 cup of warm distilled or filtered water* mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pure sea salt works best, or pick up pre-mixed solutions from Pharmaca. Just make sure the salt is free of iodine and other additives, which can harm the nasal passages.
    2) Tilt your head to one side, and place the spout in one nostril. Make clean up easy by leaning over the sink or standing in the shower.
    3) Slowly pour the saline solution through one nostril, allowing it to flow through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril.
    4) Repeat on the other side.

    Try out the power of neti with Pharmaca's offerings, including products from Himalayan Institute, Baraka Red Hot Ceramics or Neilmed Sinus Rinse Kits. And make sure you clean your neti pot regularly to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria to the sensitive nasal passages (try hot water and a plant-based soap, such as Pharmaca's Defense Formula Hand Soap, filled with essential oils that naturally fight bacteria).

    *The FDA recommends filtered water because of certain bacteria that can be present in tap water.

    If you want to learn more about proper neti pot use, come in and talk to a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Ask a Practitioner: I need gluten-free cold remedies!

    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. Each week we'll be posting some of these questions with the hopes that our practitioners' advice can help answer some of your health questions.

    Q. I need a cough drop and nasal decongestant that are gluten free. Because of my sensitivities, and because most medications have these ingredients, I always get stuck with a cold without relief!

    A. Pharmaca has a number of gluten-free products to help with allergy and cold symptoms. For cough drops I would recommend Herbal Lozenges by Zand. They’re sweetened with brown rice syrup and come in many flavors such as Elderberry with Zinc and Umckaloabo, an African Cherry.

    We also have many zinc lozenges, which are always effective against a cold or flu. My favorite are the Wellness Zinc Lozenges by Source Naturals, which contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. I would also recommend one of our herbal throat sprays, such as a propolis throat spray, to deliver the medicine to the throat and gain some relief.

    As for a decongestant, one of the most popular is Astragalus. It has deep immune-boosting properties and Pharmaca makes a certified organic brand in both tincture and capsule form. Gaia Herbs also makes a great product called Respiratory Defense, which is an all-natural herbal formula to aid in mucus secretions.

    Another suggestion is MucoStop by Enzymedica, which is made from plant enzymes and acts as a decongestant. It contains no artificial ingredients, or allergens such as soy, yeast, wheat or corn.

    -Shannon Wood, Naturopath, Menlo Park Pharmaca

    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.

  • Zinc beneficial in reducing cold symptoms and duration


    A new review of studies on zinc as a cure for the common cold has concluded that it can drastically shorten the duration of cold symptoms. The review examined 15 studies that have been done since the 1980s, and found that if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, you can trim an average of a day of sneezing and sniffling off the standard cold.

    "People taking zinc are also less likely to have persistence of their cold symptoms beyond seven days of treatment," report the authors. Further, "Zinc supplementation for at least five months reduces incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics for children with the common cold."

    The author doesn't offer a specific recommendation for dosages, but does warn readers that zinc lozenges filled with artificial ingredients can inhibit the effectiveness of the zinc itself. That's why we love these zinc products, made without all the other stuff:

    Quantum Health Therazinc Echinacea Lozenges: Including other natural immune-boosters like echinacea and propolis

    Cold-Eeze Lozenges: All natural, and available in a variety of flavors

    Source Naturals Zinc Lozenges: In a tasty peach-raspberry flavor to reduce the zinc "aftertaste"

    Read more about the review on the New York Times Well Blog.

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