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  • Your Holiday Survival Kit

    Ah, the holidays. Full of family, good cheer, rich food and for many, busy schedules and stressful travel. We spoke with Jenna Zampiello, naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist at Seattle's Madison Park location, about ways to keep yourself healthy and less stressed during this exciting time of year.

    Travel healthy
    When we're traveling and coming into contact with a lot of people, it's a good idea to give your immune system a little extra help. Jenna suggests packing an antibacterial gel or spray, like EO's Hand Sanitizer Spray, especially if you're traveling during flu season. She also recommends eating a healthy, low-carb breakfast on travel day, then eating smaller meals throughout the day. "Most people feel significantly better if they actually fast during travel time, abstaining from consuming the prepared airport meals that are high in fat and salt," says Jenna.

    Jenna also recommends staying hydrated by drinking at least one 8 oz glass per hour while flying, and mixing in some Emergen-C to add immunity-boosting vitamins and electrolytes. Other travel essentials include Jet Zone, a homeopathic formula to prevent jet lag and Reed's Ginger Candy or homeopathic Tabacum 30c to help settle an upset stomach.

    Maintain good immunity
    For continuous immune support Jenna also suggests keeping up a maintenance dose of New Chapter's Lifeshield Immunity, a medicinal mushroom-based formula offering a potent source of beta glucans which help to upregulate immune cells required to fight bacteria, viruses and cancer. Mushrooms not only stimulate your immune system, but have also been shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels.

    Another quality immune support formula is Source Naturals' Wellness Formula. "You can take it every day, and if you feel like you're coming down with something, take the maximum dose of three tablets several times a day," says Jenna. She also recommends our best-selling homeopathic remedy, Boiron's Oscillococcinum, which can be taken at the onset of any type of flu symptoms.

    Keep stress at bay
    Most everyone can use extra adrenal support, says Jenna, since our bodies are not equipped to deal with chronic stress, and, let's face it, "everyone is stressed out during the holidays," she says. She recommends Gaia Herbs' Adrenal Health, which can serve as a preventive measure, giving you more energy and preventing fatigue. For more immediate relief, sip a cup of Yogi's Kava Stress Relief tea (or "make a big pot for the whole family if you need to!" says Jenna). If the holiday stress becomes too much, try Bach Rescue Remedy, available in easy-to-pack sprays, pastilles and drops.

    Maintain a healthy weight
    Boosting your adrenal health can also be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight, says Jenna, since it can help normalize your cortisol response. But it's also important to keep blood sugar levels stable during the holiday season. "Make sure you have protein for every meal, especially breakfast, since this helps to stabilize and regulate your metabolism for the rest of the day," she says. She recommends snacks like an apple with almond butter, hummus and carrots or trail mix that includes both nuts and fruit (try Pharmaca's Antioxidant Trail Mix). If you need a whole meal replacement on the go, try a packet of protein powder like Vega's Whole Food Health Optimizer, which can be easily added to water or juice while traveling.

    It's important to note that the winter season itself can create its own weight-gain challenges, since a lot of people eat more because of lower serotonin levels due to shorter days, says Jenna. You can boost those levels by maintaining a healthy dose of vitamin D. In the Pacific Northwest, that's especially difficult, so Jenna recommends a dose of 4,000 IU throughout the winter season ("Everyone should have their vitamin D levels checked at least once a year to ensure adequate dosage," Jenna says).  She likes Pharmaca's liquid Vitamin D3.

    Boost healthy digestion
    Finally, when rich foods abound, avoid heartburn and indigestion by packing a few simple products. "Enzymedica's Digest Gold is one of the best enzymes we have," says Jenna, for helping support digestion of holiday meals. She also likes chewable papaya enzymes, both of which can be taken during a meal. You can also support your digestion after a meal by sipping a cup of Traditional Medicinals' Eater's Digest Tea. "It contains a number of medicinal herbs that help stimulate your digestion should you feel bloated or sluggish after a meal," says Jenna. "It is a good standby should you happen to overindulge and eat too much."

    For more recommendations on facing holiday health challenges, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

  • Building Your Allergy Defense

    Even if you feel like you’ve tried everything to combat those springtime allergies, there’s a good chance Pharmaca offers a few things you haven’t tried. We have a variety of natural and alternative remedies to boost your chances of surviving—and actually enjoying—allergy season. To learn more about taking a multi-pronged approach to allergy relief, we spoke with Dr. Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor at our Monterey store.

    The Supplements

    “I really love quercetin,” she says. The flavonoid, derived from fruits and vegetables is an antihistamine, she says, that “works for all sorts of allergies. You can take it all day long.” She recommends Jarrow’s Quercetin 500 mg. “Start with two capsules in the morning and add two to four capsules later in the day if needed.”

    Other recommendations: Aller-Leaf from Gaia Herbs, which is packed with naturally anti-inflammatory turmeric and a number of other herbs that can help reduce allergic reactions. In addition, “vitamin C is always helpful,” Dr. Putnam says. “It helps thin the mucous out, and is especially good for people with sinus allergies.” She likes Pharmaca brand vitamin C.

    The Neti Pot

    “Rinsing with a neti pot once or twice a day works great to get everything out of there,” says Dr. Putnam. “And it helps boost the integrity of the mucous membrane.” She recommends just adding a solution of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to a standard 8 oz neti pot.

    The Nasal Spray

    Thorne QC Nasal Spray applies the quercetin right to the nasal mucosa,” says Dr. Putnam. “You’ll absorb it faster and thus get faster relief.” Unlike other nasal sprays, it’s not at all habit-forming, and can be used in conjunction with other medicines, even over-the-counter ones like Claritin.

    The Mushrooms

    Medicinal mushrooms can help with everything from immunity to respiratory problems. That’s why they can be an important addition to your allergy-fighting regimen. “New Chapter’s Lifeshield Immunity is great in general for the immune system,” says Dr. Putnam. “Pair that with quercetin and I’ve found that people are generally healthier and not affected by their allergies so much.” For specific respiratory issues, she also really likes New Chapter’s Lifeshield Breathe.

    The Probiotics

    The immunity-boosting standby, probiotics are another important supplement for general health. “If your immune system is healthy, you’re going to have fewer allergies,” says Dr. Putnam. “I like ones from Pharmax—pretty affordable and great quality.”

    Let Pharmaca help you take the holistic approach to managing your allergies this season.

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