Tag Archives: prod-520927

  • The Link Between Probiotics and Optimal Health (Video)

    Don't know why you should be taking probiotics? Here, Dr. Tori Hudson talks about the importance of probiotics for people of all ages. In children, probiotics can be helpful for reducing allergies, asthma, eczema and digestive problems; for adults, different strains can help reduce bowel diseases, bladder infections, vaginal infections and to bring gut flora back into balance after a course of antibiotics.

  • Snapshot: Different Probiotic Species and Strains

    As a follow up to our post on how to choose a probiotic, here's a snapshot look at different probiotic strains, when they're useful and where to find them.

    Probiotic species & strains  Health benefits Where you'll find it

    B. longum


    The most significant and important probiotics in the body, and among the first to colonize in the sterile GI tract of a newborn infant (also found in human breast milk). Stimulates the immune response and promotes microbial balance by crowding out bad bacteria that cause discomfort and neutralizing everyday toxins in the gut. Aids production and absorption of B vitamins, blocks harmful invaders, boosts the immune system and helps maintain regularity. Helps break down carbs without producing excess gas. May help to prevent or minimize various allergies or allergic reactions, inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, or colitis.May have positive impact on cholesterol levels.

    Lowers the pH of the intestine/vagina to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.



    L. acidophilus

    Most commonly used probiotic.Lives in the mouth, intestines (maintains integrity of the wall of the small intestine, aiding nutrient absorption and supporting immunity) and vagina (adheres to the walls of the vagina and urinary system where it can fight infection). Helps to synthesize vitamin K and many antimicrobial substances, giving it antibiotic properties.


    L. rhamnosus GG

    One of the most effective strains for combating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea. Lives in the intestines, and fights infections both in the gut and urinary tract. Assists in dairy digestion and lactose intolerance.

    L. plantarum 299V

    Reduces pain, bloating and improves constipation in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Helps with antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
    • Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support

    S. boulardii

    A probiotic yeast resistant to stomach acids and antibiotics. Effective against reducing acute diarrhea in children and adults. Protects against both antibiotic and travelers’ induced diarrhea. Promotes immune and digestive health.

    B. infantis

    Excellent for both children and adults, B. infantis is one of the first colonize in the newborn’s digestive tract. Helps to impede the growth of harmful bacteria.Excellent producer of B vitamins. Offers good results with IBS (bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, urgency and abdominal discomfort), IBD, ulcerative colitis and traveler’s diarrhea.

    L. casei





    Helps control diarrhea, has potential anti-inflammatory effects on the GI and aids in relieving antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Produces lactic acid to lower the pH of the gut, impeding the growth of harmful bacteria. Lives in the mouth and intestines of both infants and adults.

    L. reuteri



    Provides strong protection against infection and helps maintain a healthy immune system. Treats and prevents diarrhea. Helps relieve colic. Releases a substance capable of killing bacteria, yeast and fungi, making it popular for vaginal infection support against candida, UTIs.


    S. thermophilus


    One of the most useful strains in the commercial food industry. True starter strain for making yogurt (used in making cheeses too). Ferments milk sugar (lactose) that turns into lactic acid, which is effective at preventing lactose intolerance and also lowers the pH of the yogurt preventing the growth of harmful bacteria causing food poisoning. Keeps microflora of intestines balanced.May have benefits for chemotherapy patients.

    B. breve

    Unique in its ability to compete against harmful bacteria due to the large variety of molecules it can digest (including plant fibers otherwise thought non-digestible). Inhibits E. coli. Present in the intestines and the vagina (inhibits growth of candida albicans, the primary cause of yeast infections). Decreases occurrence of gas, diarrhea and bowel irritations.

    L. helveticus

    Exerts antimicrobial activities against pathogens, helps reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance by breaking down lactose, helps to prevent and reduce diarrhea, may have implications on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure as well as help with calcium absorption. Lives in the intestines.


  • The 411 on Allergies

    Yup, it’s the beginning of allergy season. If you’re already dealing with itchy eyes and a runny nose, you may wonder why exactly you fall victim to the ravages of ragweed each year.

    Here’s how allergies work. Pollen, let’s say from a juniper bush, is for some reason seen as an invader in your body. When it’s inhaled, the body tries to fight off the invader by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE then sends a signal to “mast” cells to raise arms against the invading allergen by releasing chemicals like histamine into the bloodstream. The result is inflammatory reactions throughout the body, triggering the stuffy nose, the sneezing, the hives, etc.

    But if juniper pollen isn’t actually harmful, why does your body see it as such? And why doesn’t everyone have the same reaction to it? Scientists are still unsure how allergies develop, but some have posited what is called the “hygiene hypothesis.” Because children in the US and other developed countries have limited exposure to germs early in life, their immune systems don’t properly understand what is truly a dangerous germ and what is just an unknown invader. The result is to attack anything that might be dangerous, resulting in allergy symptoms. Though it’s just a hypothesis, studies have shown that allergy rates are indeed higher in developed countries, and the rate of allergies increases as they develop.

    In addition, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a warming climate may continue to make allergy seasons worse and worse. The reason is that earlier warming—and earlier onset of spring—helps common allergens flourish. From a recent press release from ACAAI:

    Weather conditions have a significant effect on the levels of pollen and mold in the air, which in turn affects the severity of allergy symptoms. Typically, the common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis ("hay fever") flourish when the weather is warm.

    "When winter weather turns unexpectedly warm, pollens and molds are released into the air earlier than usual, and then die down when it gets cold again," said Stanley Fineman, MD, of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "This pattern of weather can ‘prime' a person's allergic reaction, so when the allergen reappears as the weather gets warm again, the allergy symptoms are worse than ever.

    Whether or not we know exactly how exactly allergies work, allergy symptoms can make life difficult. Here are some of our favorite ways to combat them.

    Neti pot. This centuries-old Ayurvedic tradition utilizes a saltwater mixture that is poured through the nostril. Used daily, it helps sweep allergens, bacteria and viruses from the nasal passages, thereby reducing the chances of infection or allergic reaction. It also helps reduce inflammation in the mucosal lining of the nose, making it stronger and more resistant to infection.

    Antioxidants help reduce free radical damage, which can suppress the immune system. The more your immunity is compromised, the more likely it will be to react badly to normal environmental allergens. Try a daily dose of Pharmaca’s Antioxidant Booster, and get lots of purple and dark red fruits in your diet—since berries, cherries, and red grapes contain powerful antioxidants that have naturally anti-inflammatory properties.

    Antihistamines. Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, recommends non-sedating histamines like Zyrtec or Claritin, especially when you know you’ll be outside on a high-pollen day (take a few hours beforehand). On the other hand, herbal extracts like nettles and butterbur, and the antioxidant quercetin have natural antihistamine effects that can reduce the allergy response.

    Chinese herbs. Plantiva’s AllerDx, one of Pharmaca’s best-selling allergy relief products, offers a unique blend of Chinese herbs that go to work on the entire immune system while quickly calming allergic reactions. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive customer feedback about its quick-acting effects for sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes,” says Marisa Buchsbaum, herbalist at our south Boulder store. “It’s made up of Chinese herbs that support the liver and mucous membranes and help clear the lungs and sinuses. And the clinical studies and trials behind the products are really supportive of its claims.”

    Probiotics. Because allergies are an overactive immune response, simply helping to support the immune system can be really helpful, says China Rose Reid, herbalist at our Napa store. And since so much of the immune system is centered in the gut, probiotics help keep everything in balance. China Rose recommends MegaFood MegaFlora, especially if you’re having digestive symptoms along with your allergies. The Pharmaca brand Super Probiotic Blend can also provide a good maintenance dosage.

  • The Buzz Around Inflammation

    Inflammation: It’s vital to our body’s natural healing process. It clots blood, fights infection and heals wounds. But certain factors, such as allergies, injury or poor diet, can keep your body in a constant state of inflammation.

    “Usually what happens is there’s an event, like an injury, surgery or other stressful event, that kicks our immune system into action,” says Dr. Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor and lead practitioner at Pharmaca’s Monterey store. “The immune cells come to the area and do their work, but if that work doesn’t die down, our body continues to be under a state of stress.”

    So what causes the immune system to stay in gear after the work is done? It could be poor lifestyle habits, such as a diet high in animal proteins or grains, smoking or too much alcohol, chronic allergies, prescription drugs or even just normal wear and tear as we age. Chronic inflammation is, basically, any time your body has to work harder to heal itself.

    If a joint, for example, is overused, Ashleigh says, “The joint gets swollen, the cartilage can wear down, there’s not as much fluidity in the joint, and it stays inflamed because your body’s under the impression that there’s an issue.” Inflammation in the gut, on the other hand, may be spawned from a bad infection or a course of antibiotics that wipe out good bacteria and make it more difficult to absorb nutrients from food.

    But inflammation comes with a variety of symptoms, and it’s not always easy to identify the culprit. “It could start with aches and pains, getting sick frequently, sinus congestion, indigestion, skin issues, joint swelling or stiffness,” says Ashleigh. You can also ask a doctor for a blood test that measures c-reactive proteins (CRPs), a general marker for inflammation. “While most of us will see somewhat elevated CRPs, it can be markedly elevated in someone with chronic inflammation.” Ashleigh adds that there are very specific CRP levels that are an indication of inflammation of the heart, so it can be helpful for those concerned with cardiovascular issues.

    Fortunately there are a variety of dietary and supplement options that can help. Ashleigh recommends inflammation-fighting omega-3s from fish or flax. “You want to maintain a balance of omega-3s and 6s,” she says. “We get a lot of 6s in our diet anyway (through animal proteins and grains), so you have to balance it out.” Ashleigh recommends Nordic Naturals’ Ultimate Omega, especially the liquid version that provides 3,000 mg of omega-3s per teaspoon. Limiting inflammatory foods like beef, chicken and pork, adds Ashleigh, can also be helpful.

    “Probiotics can help rebalance and repopulate your gut with good bacteria,” says Ashleigh, who recommend’s MegaFood’s MegaFlora. “Probiotics boost gut health, which in turn helps your immune system, which controls the inflammation response.” Probiotics, therefore, can help break the cycle of inflammation. Along the same lines, digestive enzymes can be really helpful to break down food and help get more nutrients.

    Next, Ashleigh says, add in an anti-inflammatory like the turmeric found in Thorne Research’s Meriva-SR. Turmeric can help with a variety of types of inflammation, including in the joints, skin and gut. “In Thorne’s formulation, the turmeric is bound to a fat molecule, which makes it much more absorbable,” Ashleigh says. Another great choice is New Chapter’s Zyflamend, which combines turmeric with circulation-boosting rosemary and ginger and antioxidants like green tea.

    Another important inflammatory issue to look at it your allergy state. “Allergies are a kind of inflammatory response, so if it’s chronic, then you become more susceptible to infection, other allergies or inflammation elsewhere in the body,” Ashleigh says. That’s why, she says, it’s good to maintain a low allergy response. “I really like WishGarden’s Kick-Ass Allergy, as well as a xylitol nasal spray to nourish the nasal passages.”

    Finally, Ashleigh says, make sure you’re resting well. “Sleep is when your body fixes itself, so getting a good night’s sleep can have a big impact on overall inflammation,” she says.

    If you’re concerned about inflammation, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about natural options.  

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