Pharmaca Blog

  • Why Circadian Rhythms Matter

    SleepMaskHave trouble falling or staying asleep? Occasional insomnia from stress, injuries or even caffeine is common. But something else could be the cause. Circadian rhythms play a big part in our sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms cause changes in our bodies during a 24-hour cycle and tell our brain’s master clock when to prime us for sleep or wakefulness. The daily flow of these rhythms affects sleep through the release of hormones and highs and lows in blood pressure and body temperature.

    It’s All about Light and Timing

    Light is one of the biggest external triggers that control circadian rhythms and cues us to feel sleepy or alert at different times during the day. When it gets dark our brain releases melatonin, a hormone that prepares our brain for sleep. And when daylight breaks, circadian rhythms raise our body temperature and release cortisol, a hormone that promotes alertness. We actually have two sleep drives, one from 2 to 4 a.m., and another weaker one from 1 to 3 p.m. caused by an afternoon circadian rhythm dip in body temperature that releases melatonin. Harvard researchers say a 20 minute afternoon nap is an ideal pick me up.

    Circadian Rhythms Out of Sync

    When something goes awry with our circadian rhythm clock, due to travel, working the night shift or even just being a certain age we can end up with insomnia and other sleep disorders.

    Jet Lag

    We’ve seen what happens when we cross several time zones; insomnia sets in because our internal clock is different than the new time zone we’ve entered. Travelling eastward is harder since our day is shortened and our natural circadian rhythm cycle is cut short.

    Remedy: Try a homeopathic medicine targeted for travelers like JetZone Jet Lag Prevention to avoid symptoms of sleeplessness, headache and drowsiness.

    Shift Work Disorder

    Working at night and sleeping during the day can cause circadian rhythms disruptions that can lead to poor quality of sleep and leave you exhausted. This is especially true for those who rotate shifts.

    Remedy: Bright light therapy with a light box can help adjust your body clock and timing of sleep. Melatonin supplements taken at bedtime will cue your circadian rhythms to sleep mode.

    Sleep Phase Disorders

    Teens and seniors are susceptible to circadian rhythm troubles. Many teens hitting puberty (researchers say up to 16%) experience Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome where circadian rhythms are off by two or three hours. These night owls have trouble falling asleep at usual times, and are often alert hours after normal bedtime, and usually have trouble waking the next morning.

    Remedy: Experts say sticking to a sleep schedule, especially during weekends and holidays helps, as does avoiding back light from phones, computer screens and TVs a few hours before bedtime.

    Others, especially seniors, may develop a condition that’s just the opposite, known as Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome. These folks can’t stay awake, often going to sleep at 6 or 7 p.m. and waking up in the middle of the night.

    Remedy: Researches say using a light box for an hour at night (between 7 and 9 p.m.) can help adjust your internal body clock, and delay sleep.

  • The Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated

    YfeatIMG2ou’re most likely aware that proper hydration is associated with health benefits such as weight loss, mental focus, even smoother, softer skin. But how does water improve our state of wellbeing? It starts at the molecular level—meaning, our organs, joints and overall tissue structure. There, in the tiniest cell structures, water works its magic, multi-tasking throughout the body to regulate temperatures, clean out toxins and balance pH levels. Because our bodies are made up of 2/3 water, hydration levels effect all body functions. So power up with water this summer, and keep your body working at its best!

    Heart & Respiratory Health

    Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles, ensuring muscles work efficiently. Without proper hydration, this major muscle is strained and has to work much harder. It’s especially important to keep tabs on water intake when exercising, and far more effective to hydrate before—rather than after--heading out for a hike.*2


    Dehydration causes shrinkage of brain tissue. It is often the cause of headaches, but may also reduce your ability to stay focused. In a typical twenty-four hour period, the longest spell most of us go without fluid intake is the six to eight hours spent sleeping. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning can help maximize those productive morning hours, both mentally and physically. *5


    Think of the kidneys as a big strainer, catching toxins and waste from your blood before channeling it to be eliminated in your urine. The kidneys keep the amount of fluid constant in your body—drinking extra water helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body. This filtering process occurs as many as 400 times per day! Without water, this cleansing process slows to a crawl, allowing toxic matter to stay in the body, clogging up your natural filtering system. *3


    To put it simply, water keeps things moving in the digestive system, preventing constipation by breaking down fats and soluble fiber. How it works: In the large intestine, water binds with fiber to increase the bulk of the stools, reduce transit time and make elimination easier. When you don't drink enough water and fluids, the colon pulls water from stools, increasing your risk of constipation. *1


    Water keeps the cartilage around our joints hydrated and lubricated. It also protects our spinal cord and tissues, keeping us healthy from the inside out. Cartilage—the rubbery material that coats our bones—is about 85 percent water. The health of this protective material depends on proper hydration. Water intake, combined with joint-supporting supplement such as NeoCell’s Type 2 Joint Complex, will help joints function smoothly to you keep moving.*6

    Hydration Tips & Guidelines

    A typical male needs 125 ounces of water per day. *4

    A typical adult female needs 91 ounces of water per day. *4

    Keep a water bottle (like this graphic, BPA-free stainless steel bottle by Earthlust) at your desk, challenging yourself to drink at least two 20-oz bottles during your workday.

    Fight the blahs by flavoring water with vitamin-packed, deliciously low-sugar electrolytes such as Nuun All Day Hydration tablets.

    Remember that sweating out moisture requires you to replace that moisture in order to stay hydrated, whether exercising or sitting in the sun. For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish. *2

    Fruits and vegetables can also help replace H2O. On a hot day, grab an orange for not only hydration, but a burst of energy from the natural sugars and vitamins.




    *2 American Heart Association

    *3 Web MD

    *4 Institute of Medicine - The Food & Nutrition Board

    *5 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition


  • Medicine Cabinet Spotlight: An Esthetician’s Beauty Essentials

    LaehBcroppedOur health and beauty practitioners are pros at recommending natural skin care remedies for customers. But what are the essentials they always keep on hand? We asked Laeh Benyamin, herbalist and esthetician at our store in south Boulder to tell us about Pharmaca favorites.

    ZuZu Luxe Mascara
    “This is hands down the best mascara we carry! It gives a natural look, it’s hypo-allergenic, it never flakes, and it stays on all day.”

    Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream

    “They call it the multi-tasker and that’s exactly what it is—it includes natural mineral SPF 30, anti-aging botanicals, antioxidants and a slight tint to even out skin tone.”

    Astara Blue Flame Purifying Treatment

    “This is a great product for adolescent/adult acne. It can be used as an all-over serum or as a spot treatment. I’ve felt a pimple coming on, put on the blemish serum at night and woke the next morning and it’s gone! It works wonders.”

    John Masters Jojoba & Ginseng Exfoliating Face Cleanser

    “This is a great gentle scrub that’s well-suited to a normal or drier skin type. For dry skin especially, a scrub really helps get the dead skin off the surface so your face can look smooth and bright. This product does the trick without overdrying.”

    Jane Iredale Magic Mitt

    “I take it for every overnight I go on, from camping to the Ritz. It removes my makeup so easily—even mascara. Just wash and use again!”

    Garden of Life Kind Organics Women’s Multi
    “This vitamin is made from 100 organic percent food from a farm, which I love because I think real food is easier for your body to assimilate than synthetic vitamins. I take one every day to ensure I’m getting all the minerals, vitamins and micro-nutrients needed to look and feel healthy.”

  • Easy DIY Pedicures

    80311_P_UncomplicatedSandal weather is here! And that means it’s time for perfectly pedicured feet and pretty polishes. Follow these simple, at-home steps for terrific-looking toes.

    Exfoliate for Smooth Skin Three Ways

    Soak & Scrub

    Flaky, dry skin is best removed with softening baths and exfoliating scrubs. First, soak your feet in warm water with Kneipp Healthy Feet Foot Bath Crystals that soothe and refresh with calendula and rosemary. Or, for a Cleopatra-style footbath, soak your feet for 20 minutes in a milk bath (lactic acid softens feet), using one cup of milk for every 6 cups of warm water. Next, rinse and buff skin with an exfoliation scrub. Kiss My Face Foot Scrub blends zesty organic peppermint leaf extract, sunflower oil, pumice and finely ground walnut shells to smooth skin.


    To bring fresh baby-soft skin to the surface on very rough feet, try a peeling product that gently dissolves dead skin cells. Customer-favorite Baby Foot Deep Skin Exfoliation for Feet uses natural fruit acids to break apart dead skin cells and highly moisturizing plant extracts to keep your soles smooth after peeling. After the initial 1 hour application process, peeling starts in 3-7 days and complete peeling takes up to 2 weeks.


    Built-up calluses can easily be removed with foot files. Microplane Foot File has a wide paddle style blade that safely smoothes away dead skin, and works best on dry feet, no soaking needed.

    Use the Right tools for Shaping

    To keep nails healthy and prevent ingrown toenails, trim straight across with an extra sharp clipper like the Tweezerman Power Nail Clipper, then shape and round slightly at the corners with a nail file. Choose a file with a medium grit (amount of abrasive material) such as Pharmaca Nail File Yellow Mylar Medium Grit for shaping, and a fine grit like Pharmaca Nail File 2-Way Pink Fine & Extra Fine Grits for smoothing edges and buffing out ridges.

    Moisturize and Treat Your Feet

    Keep your feet smooth and moisturized with ultra-nourishing foot creams like Desert Essence Organic Foot Repair Cream Pistachio that hydrates with pistachio nut oil, shea butter and macadamia seed oil. If your day involves hiking boots instead of pretty sandals, try Fieldworks Supply Company Feet of Endurance Protective Foot Balm, rich in arnica to relieve swelling and bentonite clay to wick moisture and toxins away from the skin. To keep feet fresh and deodorized, check out Badger Foot Balm with anti-bacterial tea tree, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.

    Polish like a Pro

    Summer is the perfect time to experiment with fun polish colors, from beachy pastels to shiny metallics. Get in the mood with the SpaRitual Gathering Collection inspired by summer, with six rich shades to choose from. Or go bright and sparkly with Deborah Lippmann Candy Shop, a bubblegum pink glittery color or Mermaid’s Dream, a shimmery seafoam aqua color. To be totally on trend, try SpaRitual Fall in Love, an earthy red-brown color that matches Pantone Color of the Year 2015, Marsala.

  • Coffee: Why You Should Pour Yourself a Cup of Joe

    WarmTEaIs waking up with freshly brewed java the way you kick start your day? Besides the burst of energy it provides, you can feel good about a whole host of benefits coffee gives us.

    Drink to lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

    Coffee, especially fresh-brewed, is full of disease-preventing antioxidants, and it’s high in magnesium, riboflavin and chromium too. This potent package has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 11% and help control blood sugar levels. The studies show the more you drink (up to 6 cups a day) the lower the risk.

    Drink to protect your brain.

    Researchers have proven that you can lower your risk of developing neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and stroke by drinking two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day. In fact, those who drink coffee regularly, from midlife on, have a 65% less chance of developing dementia in later life.

    Drink to protect your arteries.

    Drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is a good way to keep your arteries clear. A study published in the medical journal Heart says that calcium buildup in arteries was less in healthy individuals who drank black coffee compared to non-coffee drinkers, possibly lowering the risk of future heart disease.

    Drink to prevent cancer.

    Coffee has been linked to lower cancer levels, especially liver and endometrial cancers, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. The laboratory research continues into how and why coffee helps prevent cancer but coffee compounds chlorogenic acid (a powerful antioxidant) and lignans (these cause abnormal cells to self-destruct) are believed to be part of the answer.

    Drink to prevent cavities.

    A compound in black coffee works to prevent cavities by keeping the cavity-causing bacteria S.mutans from adhering to tooth enamel. And freshly roasted caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated or even instant gives us the same benefits, but it only prevents cavities if you leave out the cream and sugar.

    Black is better.

    When it comes to health benefits we’re talking black coffee with less than 5 calories, not a sugar-laden whipped caramel mocha that can easily have a whopping 500+ calories. With the wide variety of fresh roasted beans that are now available, you can taste the pure essence of the roasted bean when it’s not masked with sugar or cream and find your favorite underlying notes like fruit, nuts or chocolate.

    Support fair trade, sustainable and organic farming.

    We can aid farmers in developing nations by choosing fair trade coffee that’s ethically produced. Fair trade guarantees farmers a fair minimum price for their coffee and links them directly to importers (bypassing costly middlemen) helping farmers earn better incomes. Fair trade certified coffee farmers commit to environmental standards too, like protecting water resources, restricting pesticides and banning GMOs. Farmers are given resources for switching to safe environmental and organic growing practices, and so far more than half have successfully made the changes necessary for fully organic farming.

  • The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreen Safety

    SunCare4-ArticleDid you know there’s a non-profit research organization that is completely dedicated to protecting our health and the environment? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) does just that by telling us what we need to know about skincare product safety, food additives, pesticides and all-around clean living. This year, their diligent analysts rated over 1,700 sunscreens and SPF moisturizers for safety and effectiveness.

    Here’s what they had to say about the best ones for you and your family.

    How EWG Rates Sunscreens

    EWG determines the top-rated sunscreens by analyzing how well they protect us and the safety of listed ingredients. Two-thirds of the score is based on a product’s UV protection and stability, and one-third on toxicity concerns of ingredients. Product ratings are from 0-10, specifically 0-2 (low hazard), 3-6 (moderate hazard) and 7-10 (high hazard).

    Minerals vs. Chemicals and Vitamin A

    When it comes to ingredients, EWG studies the latest research to see how ingredients impact our bodies. In the case of sunscreens, the sun’s damaging rays are blocked with minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, or with chemical filters like avobenzone and oxybenzone. EWG recommends mineral-based sunscreens because they are more stable, last longer and don’t penetrate the skin like chemical-based sunscreens (some of which, like oxybenzone, are suspected hormone-disruptors). And be on the lookout for added Vitamin A, listed as retinol or retinyl palmitate. EWG says this common anti-aging ingredient speeds up the development of cancerous skin tumors when exposed to sunlight, so save Vitamin A products for nighttime use.

    Top Picks & Why We Love Them

    For Kids

    (EWG doesn’t recommend using sunscreens on infants under 6 months of age)

    ThinkBaby SPF 50+ (EWG rating 1) Organic, non-nano zinc oxide, non-aerosol, no chemical UV absorbers with super skin-protecting anti-oxidants cranberry and raspberry oil.

    TruKid Sunny Days Face and Body Stick SPF30 (EWG rating 1) Easy to use and carry, a roll-on sunscreen that’s water-resistant.

    For Athletes (or extended time outdoors)

    Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35 (EWG rating 1) Water and sweat resistant, unscented and environmentally friendly; it’s biodegradable, safe for coral reefs and comes in a BPA and phthalate-free tube.

    Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sport Sunscreen SPF 45 (EWG rating 2) Water-resistant and skin nourishing with aloe vera, calendula, lavender, grape seed and green tea extracts.

    For Bodies (everyday coverage)

    DeVita Solar Body Moisturizer SPF30+ (EWG rating 1) Non-greasy and easily absorbed, it revitalizes skin with anti-aging vitamins and botanicals like vitamin E, Japanese green tea, rose hips and seaweed extract.

    Alba Botanica Mineral Sunblock SPF30 (EWG rating 2) Lightweight and moisturizing with jojoba oil, green tea and lavender, it hydrates and protects skin.

    For Faces (with extra benefits)

    Supergoop Daily Correct CC Cream SPF35 (EWG rating 2) Provides sun protection and anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants in a lightweight, color-correcting cream that comes in two shades.

    Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF25 (EWG rating 2) Goes on smoothly for a dewy, radiant finish with excellent coverage in eight easy-to-match shades.

    Juice Beauty Tinted Mineral Moisturizer SPF30 (EWG rating 1) Zinc oxide-based with skin-saving botanicals like aloe, white grape juice and cucumber extract.SunCare4-Article

    <p class=”italic”> Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner for your health and beauty questions. </p>

  • Herbalist’s Spotlight: What supplements does our lead practitioner recommend for men?

    SunCare2-ArticleEvery day at Pharmaca, our health care practitioners recommend natural remedies for customers from all walks of life. We asked experienced herbalist Matthew B. to share his favorite supplements for men.

     Pure Encapsulations Phyto-ADR

    “I recommend this as a restorative tonic. The adoptogens in this vegetarian formulation provide comprehensive support for the adrenal glands, promoting physiological balance and improving resistance to stress. Who doesn’t need that?”

    Jarrow Prostate Optimizer

    “As men get older, this supplement—which is formulated with natural extracts and necessary fatty acids—becomes important for optimal prostate function and urinary flow.”

    Thorne Vitamin D (5,000 IU)

    “What I like about this particular Vitamin D supplement is that it’s the right dose and not a dangerous dose. It also has no hidden ingredients like lactose, BHT, BHA, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid, which can be detrimental to people with sensitivities.”

    Metagenics Highly Absorbable Magnesium Glycinate

    “For muscle tension and insomnia—another common complaint for men—I recommend magnesium glycinate. Not only is it highly absorbable, it’s not dependent on stomach acid for absorption, which means you won’t experience loose stools.”

    Natura InflamAway

    “Just the thing for weekend warriors and serious athletes. One of my favorites for inflammation, swelling and pain from physical trauma, InflamAway works at the cellular level to assist in the removal of damaging toxins and help balance the body’s inflammatory processes.”


  • 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

    600-03017958We all know the benefits of exercise: stress relief, weight loss, more energy.

    But some days, you need some extra motivation to keep moving. We’ve got you covered.

    1. Make it fun! Find something you enjoy doing. Dancing, swimming, walking—it doesn’t have to be the latest workout craze. What’s important is that you keep working out, in whatever way works for you.
    2. Get online support. These days, there are lots of monthly challenges you can get in on like DietBet or Daily Endorphin. A group to check in with keeps you accountable.
    3. Find a workout partner. Bonus: walking with a friend burns calories and lets you catch up on the neighborhood news at the same time.
    4. Pay a personal trainer. Paying a trainer can motivate you to show up to your scheduled workouts like nothing else.
    5. Sign up for an exercise class. It’s harder to slack off when you’re in a room full of people.
    6. Break it up. Tell yourself you only have to exercise for 10 minutes. You may find you want to keep going. If not, you can do a couple more mini-sessions during the day, instead of one long workout.
    7. Make it convenient. Online exercise videos are handy when you don’t have time to drive 20 minutes to the gym.
    8. Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be for weight loss. Why not see if you can reduce your waist measurement or work out three days every week?
    9. Track your progress. Recording your workouts—either online, through an app or in an old-fashioned journal—is a proven way to make you want to keep going.
    10. Reward yourself for working out. Choose rewards like a new outfit, a massage or special body scrub. You deserve it!


  • Secrets for Super Creamy, Nutrient-Packed Smoothies

    Pharmaca SUper Chia Seecsd Stuck in a smoothie-making rut? Take your usual protein shake to the next level by adding nutrient-dense superstars like chia seeds, flaxseed or coconut oil. To up the nutrition level while keeping the smooth in your smoothie, be sure to follow the blending tips below.

    Chia Seeds

    With their mild, nutty flavor chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and just 2 tablespoons can provide 10 grams of fiber. Chia seeds also contain protein and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

    Tip: To improve digestibility, soak the chia seeds in water for 10 to 15 minutes—save time by storing ready-to blend chia seed gel (one part chia seed to one part water) in the fridge for a few weeks.

    Coconut Oil

    The naturally found medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil are metabolized by the liver, making them a favorite of athletes or anyone looking for a quick energy boost. Research has shown that MCTs may also suppress appetite and slow down accumulation of fat in the body over time.

    Tip: To prevent coconut oil from clumping in your smoothies, always add it before you add any cold ingredients. Start with the coconut oil, next add protein or vitamin powders and finish with any ice or frozen fruit.


    An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed is also the number one whole-food source of lignans, a phytonutrient associated with prolonged survival in cancer patients. Unlike flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed offers some additional protein and soluble fiber.

    Tip: To unlock all of flaxseed’s nutritional benefits, be sure to use ground flaxseed. Purchase it pre-ground or grind it yourself at home.

  • Why Plant Stem Cells Should be in your Skincare Products

    featIMGWe know natural botanical extracts in our skincare products provide a whole host of beauty benefits. But did you know that the stem cells from certain botanicals can be significantly more effective at reducing the signs of aging than the plant extract alone?

    Here’s what you need to know about these microscopic powerhouses.

    Stem cells give you just what you need

    Unlike other cells that have a specific purpose (i.e. a brain cell is specialized for the brain), stem cells are able to develop into many different types of cells, based on which type of cells they are near. For example, stem cells applied to the skin can generate new skin cells that repair and replace cells that have been damaged by sun exposure, environmental toxins, injury or disease. And these new cells keep dividing, producing even more healthy cells to replace lost, damaged or dying skin cells.

    Mighty plants with powerful stem cells

    Researchers have found that our own human stem cells can be protected and activated by plant stem cells. Combining the natural healing power in botanicals with stem cell technology, skin scientists have been working diligently to discover which plants provide the best results. We now know that there are certain plant superstars with proven restorative abilities like increasing collagen, boosting antioxidant protection and locking in hydration.


    This tiny white flower grows in harsh mountain climates from the Alps to the Himalayas and it has developed powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that let it thrive in these environments where UV radiation levels are high. Edelweiss cells contain anti-oxidants leontopodic and chlorogenic acids, proven to firm skin and prevent collagen loss, making wrinkles noticeably less visible. You can find Edelweiss plant stem cells in MyChelle Fabulous Eye Cream, along with super hydrating hyaluronic acid that locks in moisture. Edelweiss stem cells are combined with anti-inflammatory coneflower and collagen-boosting pennywort in Intelligent Nutrients Renewal Complex Plant Stem Cell Science Target Treatment, a daily serum that repairs stretch marks and scarring, and reduces wrinkles and age spots.

    Swiss Apples

    A rare, almost extinct, sour apple found in Switzerland caught the attention of scientists when they discovered the apple’s ability to self-repair damage to its skin and last for months without withering. This fruity fountain of youth’s stem cells have been cultured and can be found in products that repair skin damage from aging. Our dark spots and wrinkles can be significantly lessened with MyChelle Apple Brightening Serum which stimulates new healthy skin cells. For treatment and coverage, Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream combines apple, grape (another super anti-oxidant) and lemon stem cells with a color-correcting tinted moisturizer to revive aging skin and even skin tone.


    Stem cells from the roots of the healing Argan tree found in Morocco stimulate our own skin stem cells to replace sun damaged, pigmented skin. All skin types can benefit from Acure’s Argan Stem Cell & Chlorella Growth Factor Cell Stimulating Facial Mask with stem cell technology, collagen-boosting green algae (chlorella), moisturizing sea buckthorn oil and detoxifying French green clay.

    <p class=”italic”>Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about your healthy and beauty questions.</p>



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