Tag Archives: prod-472856

  • 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.

  • Get Serious About Sleep

    Good sleep is one of the most vital elements of good health—but for many of us, it can also be hard to find. Here, customers and Pharmaca staff tell us about their favorite sleep products, and Dr. Suen Sohn, former naturopathic doctor at our Oakland store, tells us about why these things work.

    “I take my magnesium/calcium/vitamin D supplement just before bedtime to help relax me and my muscles.”
    -Kim, customer, West Seattle Pharmaca

    “Magnesium can work as a muscle relaxer,” says Dr. Sohn. “So if tension is contributing to sleep problems, it can help people wind down and soothe any muscle aches.”

    L-Theanine is my favorite. There is no hangover, and I don’t feel that it ‘knocks me out.’ It is a more gentle choice for me.”
    -Kristin, customer, North Boulder Pharmaca

    “L-theanine is an amino acid derivative of green tea,” says Dr. Sohn. While it won’t put you to sleep, it can lessen any anxiety and “racing thoughts” that you have around bedtime.

    Kava really helps my body calm down after a long day running around.”
    -Sindy, Team Member, Pharmaca Home Office

    “Kava definitely has a bodily effect, as well as a mental effect, in producing calm,” says Dr. Sohn. “It makes some people feel drowsy, but it can also just help you relax.” She cautions that there are some liver toxicity issues with kava, however, so make sure you speak with a practitioner before taking it.

    “I like the Serious Relaxer by WishGarden Herbs. It’s relaxing for the muscles, and especially good when I overdo it with exercise. I need it to get my body to relax.”
    -Whitney, Team Member, North Boulder Pharmaca

    This herbal formula combines a number of useful elements, such as Valerian root, European Betony leaf, Passionflower vine, Scullcap leaf and Ginger Root.

    “For most people, the valerian will have a drowsy effect,” says Dr. Sohn. “Passionflower is often used in anxiety formulas and can be very relaxing. And ginger is a good circulatory enhancer. It can also be warming, which is good for tight muscles.”

    Depending on what keeps you up at night, Pharmaca practitioners can help you find the right path to better sleep. Dr. Sohn, for example, often recommends Sleepy Nights by WishGarden Herbs, or Natural Factors’ Tranquil Sleep, a blend of L-Theanine, Melatonin and 5-HTP. Come in to Pharmaca today to find your perfect sleep formula.

  • Easy Tips for a Healthy Holiday

    Your holiday list is written. Your menu is already planned. Even your New Year’s Eve babysitter is lined up. But what do you do when the holidays bring an unwelcome surprise, like standstill traffic or last-minute illness, that throws you off balance? Not to worry. Pharmaca is here to help you avoid holiday havoc in its many forms.

    Maintain Your Regular Routine
    Traveling to visit family and friends can often lead to changes in your sleeping and eating schedule, as well as your standard wellness routine. Try to keep these basic elements of your daily life stable.

    • For sleep support, our practitioners often recommend WishGarden’s Sleepy Nights, a non-sedative formula that modulates the nervous system to quiet mental chatter. Since it contains no valerian and no kava, you can take it any time in the night and still feel fresh in the morning.
    • Since most of us tend to eat more (and more often) during the holidays, try taking holy basil supplements during times of excess. This herb acts as an adrenal regulator so it not only modulates blood sugar, but it also reduces stress.

    Keep Stress at Bay
    The holidays can be as hectic as they can be enjoyable. Surround yourself with a positive environment to help temper emotional reactions to stressful situations.

    • Try keeping essential oils like spruce, clove and thyme in your home or car diffuser. A small bottle of lavender also travels easily for on-the-go moments when stress levels start to rise.
    • When cooking, cleaning, or preparing for company, light beeswax candles around the house and turn up some music, like Putumayo’s Jazz and Blues Christmas. This way, your chores become enjoyable personal time.

    Support Your System
    One of the great things about the holiday is the selfless spirit that grows in you, but it’s also important not to lose sight of yourself. Be sure to take good care of your body so you can look and feel your best.

    • A blend of the herb astragalus and elderberry extract is great for helping keep illness at bay and reducing inflammation. Even the little ones can be Santa-ready with the SambuGuard formula from Flora.
    • While we all know that nothing beats stress like a glass of wine, it’s also true that nothing hurts like the morning after. Replenish your vitamin B levels which are depleted by alcohol consumption with New Chapter’s Coenzyme B Food Complex.

    For additional suggestions and personalized advice, visit your local Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy.

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