Tag Archives: prod-470713

  • Ask the Practitioner: How Can I Calm Stage Fright?

    Q. I’ve been having some major anxiety recently when forced to speak in front of a group of people. I get mouth twitches and my heart begins to race. Do you have any herbal remedies or product suggestions?

    A. It’s fairly common to feel the situational anxiety you experience while speaking in public—I know from my own experience! Here are some natural products to try:

    L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in green tea that promotes mental calmness and relaxation. L-theanine works by increasing GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that protects from overexcitement of neurons) and dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter that can help with concentration). I like Natural Factors’ Suntheanine in fast-acting chewable wafers.

    GABA is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter that works to calm over-excitement in the nervous system that can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleeplessness and spasmodic movements. GABA increases the production of alpha waves (calming) and decreases beta waves (stress-related) in the brain. I like Natural Factors’ fast-acting, chewable Pharma GABA or Thorne Research Pharmagaba.

    Gelsemium sempervire is a homeopathic remedy that is known to help with stage fright. Gelsemium works best for those that experience emotional excitement and fear leading to trembling, dizziness or dullness. Try it in a 30c potency, 3-5 pellets under the tongue. You can take a dose every 15 minutes if needed leading up to the time of your speech if needed.

    WishGarden’s Emotional Ally is one of my favorite calming herbal formulations for temporary relief of anxiety, restlessness and irritability. The herbs in this formula such as passionflower and skullcap are anxiety soothing and emotionally calming. You can take several dropperfuls if needed.

    Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a very popular flower essence blend available in drops, spray, gum and candies, which help relieve an immediate edge. The five flower essences used in this formulation help ease fright, tension and irritability. Rescue Remedy is designed to help center your emotions until the crisis has past.

    Hawthorn is the herb that gives your heart a hug. It’s a loving, calming herb that can help counteract anxiety. Hawthorn is most commonly used for physical ailments of the heart such as heart palpitations can happen with anxiety and stage fright. Try Pharmaca brand or Gaia Herbs’ Hawthorn. 

  • Travel First Aid: Help for Every Travel Ailment

    Traveling-HealthThe new sights, the sunny beaches, the great food…Travel can be exciting, but even the most experienced travelers need a little help now and then. Here’s our roundup of common travel ailments—and natural remedies that can get you back to enjoying your vacation!

    The Problem: Jet lag

    It happens when we fly across different time zones, causing a disruption in our sleep/wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm). Changing time zones rapidly can cause disruptions in falling asleep, staying asleep or staying awake.

    The Solutions

    Melatonin is the hormone our bodies make to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, so taking  extra in a supplement form may help to reset the sleep/wake cycle disrupted from jet lag. Research has shown that melatonin can aid sleep at times when you wouldn’t normally be sleeping. Good brands to try include Source Naturals, Natural Factors, Jarrow Formulas and Pharmaca. Regular doses usually range between 1-5mg.

    NO-JET-LAG (from Miers Laboratory) is a well-loved and trusted homeopathic travel companion. It is safe, easy to take and has been proven effective in tests. A blend of five homeopathic remedies (arnica, daisy, chamomile, ipecac and lycopodium) helps counter the effects of pressure changes and the debilitating effects of long flights.

    The Problem: Travel anxiety

    Many people experience anxiety around travel, whether it’s fear of flying, fear of where you are going, changing your regular daily routine, fear of leaving home or missing loved ones and animals.

    The Solutions

    L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea that supports mental calmness and relaxation by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain. L-theanine assists the alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation, without any drowsiness. Brands to try include Source Naturals, Jarrow Formulas and Natural Factors.

    Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Essences is a gentle formula to help center your emotions when you’re experiencing situational distress. Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower essences that assist with emotional stress from illness, fright, injury, travel fatigue and irritation.

    Emotional Ally by WishGarden Herbs is formulated to help you cope with temporary anxiety, restlessness and irritability. With herbs like passionflower, skullcap and motherwort, it helps you to re-center yourself and feel relief from travel anxiety.


    The Problem: Motion sickness

    Also known as travel, car, sea or airsickness, it happens when visually perceived motion is different from your vestibular system’s sense of movement. The most common symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

    The Solutions

    PSI Bands are adjustable wristbands that apply acupressure to help relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Acupressure works by stimulating the body’s self-curative abilities.

    Ginger can help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try New Chapter’s Ginger Force or Jarrow Formulas, Herb Pharm or Pharmaca brand Ginger.

    Peppermint can also help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try Herb Pharm’s Breath Tonic or Enzymatic Therapy’s Peppermint Plus.

    Homeopathic Gelsemium Sempervire 30c is also indicated in motion sickness.


    The Problem: Travelers’ Diarrhea

    This one is common for a few reasons—one being that you are simply drinking water you’re not used to drinking. Another reason may be that the water is not thoroughly treated at your destination. The microbial balance in the digestive tract may be easily disturbed during travel, so it’s important to plan ahead and supplement with probiotics to give the immune and digestive tract a head start.

    The Solutions

    Start taking a good probiotic a few weeks before your departure to build up healthy colonies of friendly flora. Some specific probiotic strains are more effective at helping with travelers’ diarrhea, but remember that many probiotic formulas require refrigeration. Try Florastor, made with S. boulardii, Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS or Dr. Ohirra’s—all of which are excellent products that do not require refrigeration.

    If possible, stick with bottled water from a trusted supplier, and use methods of sterilization when necessary (i.e. plan ahead for boiling, water cleansing tabs or filtration).

    The Problem: Decreased Immunity

    Cramped airplanes and foreign bacteria can take advantage of anyone’s immune system. That’s why it’s a good idea to start building your immunity several weeks before your trip.

    The Solutions

    WishGarden Herbs’ Kick-Ass Immune is formulated to activate a healthy immune response and emphasizes respiratory health, which is especially important when flying in airplanes. It’s handy for travel in 1 or 2 oz sizes.

    Perfect Immune by New Chapter is a probiotic, whole-food multivitamin that provides comprehensive support for immune and natural defenses.

    New Chapter LifeShield Immunity is an awesome blend of medicinal mushrooms packed with beta glucans that help potentiate and modulate the immune system.

    Also, don’t forget to wash your hands often and disinfect when traveling. I like sanitizers by CleanWell, EO and Dr. Bronner’s.


    The Problem: Sunburn

    Because travel destinations are often at a higher elevation, near water, closer to the equator or sunnier than where you are coming from, sunburn can be inevitable. Make sure you wear a hat, stay out of the sun during peak hours and reapply a good mineral sunscreen. And if you do get burnt, here are ways to beat the heat.

    The Solutions

    To treat sunburn, try All Terrain’s Aloe Gel Skin Relief with healing herbs, Boericke and Tafel’s Califlora Calendula Gel or Boiron’s First Aid Calendula Lotion. And after being out in the sun all day, remember to stay hydrated with electrolytes. Coconut water is an easy way to get them, but Ultima Replenisher or Trace Minerals’ Electrolyte Stamina are powdered electrolyte drink mixes that are great for travel.

    The Problem: Sleeplessness

    Whether it’s jet lag or loud hotel neighbors, there are a variety of ways to combat sleeplessness.

    The Solutions

    Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep Tonic is an herbal blend with valerian, sold in a small 1 oz bottle that’s convenient for travel.

    Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc. is designed to help with difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or for low-quality sleep.

    Sleep Formula by Pharmaca, containing melatonin, 5HTP and L-theanine, has worked well for many people.

    Magnesium is great to take before bed to promote relaxation and calmness. Try Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm, Pure Essence’s Ionic Fizz or Kal’s Magnesium Glycinate.

    You may also want to try an eye mask and/or earplugs to block out unwanted sounds or sights. The Bucky Forty Blinks Eye Mask is one of my favorites because it’s contoured to relieve pressure against the eyes.


    The Problem: Digestive issues

    Different foods, whether they’re too rich or just something you’re not used to eating, can also play a big part in the health of your digestive system.

    The Solutions

    Chewable Papaya Enzymes help promote healthy digestion by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins. Try Pharmaca brand or Natural Factors’ Chewable Papaya Enzymes. (Plus they’re delicious!)

    Bring along more potent digestive enzymes in case you’re headed somewhere where you know the food is more challenging for your digestion. I like Megazymes by MegaFood, Digest Gold or Digest Spectrum by Enzymedica, Advanced Enzyme System by Rainbow Light or Complete Digestion by Enzyme Science.

    Probiotics are always recommended when traveling to promote a healthy immune system and optimal digestion (see Traveler’s Diarrhea for shelf-stable recommendations). Begin taking probiotics a few weeks before travel to allow time for colonization in the gut. A belly with a powerful amount of microbial flora will protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses, helping you to stay strong and healthy during your travels.

    WishGarden Digestive Bitters can help balance the pH of the stomach and ease an acidic tummy. Supports healthy digestive response and enzymes.

    Hyland’s Upset Stomach is a homeopathic, charcoal-based formula designed to relieve gas and bloating from overeating or improper diet. Safe for adults and children.

    UrgentRx Heartburn Relief comes in pocket-sized packets designed for easy transport, featuring 1000 mg of calcium carbonate for fast-acting relief of heartburn, acidic stomach and acid indigestion on the go, with or without liquid.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for solutions to travel problems not listed here.

  • A Holistic Approach to Stress

    Whether you need just a few extra minutes of calm in your day or more long-term stress relief, Pharmaca offers a variety of different approaches to beating anxiety. And don’t forget—helping your body better cope with stress can go a long way toward optimal health and reducing your risk for chronic conditions like cancer, obesity and heart disease.

    The Herbal Approach
    When it comes to stress-fighting herbs, Cassy Dymond, ND at our Seattle - Wallingford location, says her go-tos are passionflower, lemon balm and milky oats. “WishGarden Herbs has some really nice formulas,” says Cassy. Deep Stress, for example, contains herbs like nettles, oat seed, thyme, bladder wrack and skullcap—“a really great herb for stress. This one is ideal when you have stress and anxiety with agitation and a hard time falling asleep,” says Cassy. She also likes their Emotional Ally, which can be helpful when you’re going through a difficult period in life, like a personal or professional change. That one also includes skullcap and St. John’s wort.

    In addition to calm-inducing herbs, says Cassy, “My tendency is to look for herbs that are supportive to the adrenals. If someone is stressed out it’s important to address the adrenal glands, too.” That’s when she turns to adaptogenic herbs like ashwaghanda, eleuthero and rhodiola, found in Gaia Herbs’ Adrenal Health and Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist.

    The Vitamins & Supplements Approach
    “B vitamins are also hugely important regarding stress,” says Cassy. “They are co-factors in so many different cellular processes, and when we’re stressed, we burn through B5 and B6 more quickly.” Look for B complexes from Thorne Research, MegaFood or New Chapter.

    Two more to add to the stress-fighting toolkit, according to Cassy: vitamin C, which offers good antioxidant support during times of stress, and magnesium, which can be help relaxing the muscles and offer physical calm.

    The Homeopathic Approach
    This subtle, gentle form of healing can work on very specific forms of stress.  Elizabeth Vassar, homeopath at our Brentwood store, tells us about some of her favorites.

    Ignatia amara: “This is one of my number ones for coping with sudden disappointment or loss, such as the ending of a relationship,” says Elizabeth.

    Natrum muriaticum: “This is good for people who have a tendency toward mild to moderate depression,” she says.

    Kali phosphoricum: Elizabeth commonly recommends this for overworked people. “I usually give it to people who are tired of their job! It helps calm the nerves.”

    Bryonia Alba: This is good for someone who has suffered big losses—like their job, a home, etc., and is experiencing depression because of it, says Elizabeth.

    Arsenicum album: “This is for the people who worry about everything!” says Elizabeth.

    Because homeopathy is so specialized to each person’s individual needs, it’s best to speak with a homeopathic practitioner at Pharmaca about proper strengths and dosages.

    The Flower Essence Approach
    Much like homeopathy, flower essences are made via multiple dilutions of flower, tree and bush extracts, and work on an energetic level. In the 1920s, British homeopath Edward Bach isolated 38 flower essences that he felt were especially helpful in balancing emotions—making them ideal for beating stress.

    Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a combination of five flower essences, is a best-selling stress-relief option. “Rescue Remedy is designed for immediate relief from stress or some kind of trauma,” says Lindsay Fontana, homeopath at our Santa Fe store.  “Sometimes when you can just get a little distance from things, you can find more peace. And that’s what Rescue Remedy really gives you.” Available in drops, as a spray and in tasty pastilles, the formula includes five flowers: rock rose, clematis, impatiens, cherry plum and star of Bethlehem.

    Lindsay cites a few other individual flower essences that can be helpful for different stressful scenarios:

    Aspen is good for stress—literally for fears and worries of unknown origin

    Cherry Plum is for fear of losing control

    Elm is for when you’re overwhelmed by responsibility

    Honeysuckle helps when you’re dwelling on the past

    Pine relieves self-reproach or guilt

    Again, because of the specialized nature of these essences, it’s best to work with a Pharmaca practitioner on choosing individual products.

  • Lower Stress, Healthier Heart

    By now you’ve heard it all—boost your heart health with omega-3s and CoQ10, keep your cholesterol low, watch your blood pressure. Even if you’re vigilant about taking the right supplements and watching what you eat, there’s another major factor in your heart health: stress.

    “When we’re under stress our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up and we secrete cortisol,” says Erin Stokes, naturopathic doctor at our South Boulder store. “All of that can be hard on your cardiovascular system.”

    Indeed, a 2010 study at the University of Western Ontario showed that increased cortisol levels, a good marker of chronic stress, were directly correlated to a higher incidence of heart attacks. So how to keep cortisol in check?

    “Meditation, getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition are all essential,” says Erin. “But you may also want to consider working on replenishing your adrenal glands.”

    When we experience the fight-or-flight response, which often happens as we drive busy roads or come up against tight deadlines at work, the adrenals secrete cortisol. Over time they become depleted, and the result is not only a feeling of exhaustion, it’s also stress on the cardiovascular system. “In this day and age almost all of us have some level of adrenal fatigue,” says Erin.

    To lower the physiological effects of stress, she first recommends some long-term adrenal support in the form of Ashwaganda, and especially likes Gaia Herbs organic formulation that offers quick delivery to your system. Another formula is Vital Adapt from Natura, which she likes because it supports the adrenals, the thyroid, and the nervous system all at once. For moderate levels of stress, these formulations can help relieve symptoms of adrenal fatigue in just a few weeks. For people experiencing more intense chronic stress, it could take months.

    That’s why it’s also good to look for short-term help. “Sometimes when people are working on adrenal health they need support in the moment,” says Erin. That’s when she recommends supplements that can help reduce situational anxiety. For example, for people experiencing panic attacks, Erin usually recommends GABA. For more low-grade anxiety, L-Theanine is a better fit. She also really likes the Emotional Ally formulation from WishGarden Herbs. Ultimately, it’s best to speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about your symptoms so they can help you find the right support.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to slow down once in awhile, too. A 1991 study from Thailand found that men who practiced Dhammakaya Buddhist meditation had much lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and higher stress reaction time than those who did not meditate. Seems like all of our hearts could use a little om.

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about heart-health-boosting supplements, stress-relieving herbs and all the other ways to support your heart.

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