Pharmaca Blog

  • More about Medium Chain Triglycerides: The Saturated Fat With Benefits!

    CoconutOil

    Contrary to popular thought, not all saturated fats can lead to heart disease and obesity. That’s because they’re not all created equal—Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), for example, are saturated fats with many health benefits, including support for metabolism, energy and beauty. (Learn more about the beauty benefits of MCTs and coconut oil here.)

    What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides?

    Medium Chain Triglycerides are saturated fats naturally found in coconut oil and palm kernel oils (and in lesser amounts in whole milk and butter). Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs), on the other hand, are the most abundant fat in nature, and the source of 98 percent of our dietary fat.

    Medium and Long Chain Triglycerides are named based on the length of their carbon chains, and as you would suspect, LCTs have longer carbons chains than MCTs. This structural difference affects how each fat is metabolized—LCTs pass slowly through the digestive tract, requiring bile salts and enzymes to break them down, then entering the lymphatic system and ending up mostly in fat stores as conserved energy. Conversely, MCTs are metabolized by the liver—bypassing the lymphatic system and the need for bile salts and enzymes—making them available for quick energy.

    MCTs for metabolism and weight management

    By replacing common LCTs with MCTs in your diet, you reap many metabolism- and weight-associated benefits. First, MCTs provide about 10 percent fewer calories per gram than LCTs. Consuming MCTs also slows down accumulation of fat over time, since MCTs are not stored in fat deposits the way LCTs are. MCTs may also suppress appetite.

    To get started, try cooking and baking with coconut oil to get more fat calories from MCTs and fewer from LCTs. Palm kernel and coconut oils are also great for cooking because they are stable at high temperatures, unlike vegetable oils such as canola oil.

    Other healthy benefits of MCTs

    Energy – As we’ve established, MCTs provide quick energy because they are so readily metabolized by the liver. This makes them great for endurance athletes, bodybuilders or anyone looking for a quick energy boost.

    Heart Health – MCTs promote normal blood platelet function, healthy cholesterol levels and prevent plaque build-up. Worth noting: Pacific Islanders—whose diet features a whopping 30-60 percent coconut content—show nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease.

    Brain Health – MCTs may also be helpful in supporting cognitive health. Here’s why: The brain regularly uses insulin to convert glucose to brain fuel. When insulin response is compromised (e.g. through poor diet or diabetes), the brain can starve of the glucose-converted energy it needs. But MCTs can be converted into ketone bodies or ketoacids, an alternative form of fuel for the brain. In this way, the body treats MCTs more like a carbohydrate than a fat, turning it into quick brain fuel.

    Immunity – The fatty acids in coconut oil (i.e. capric, caprylic and lauric acids) have many immune-benefitting properties, including anti-microbial actions.

    Ways to get your MCTs

    Ready to improve energy, boost immunity and brain power, manage weight and beautify your skin and hair? Pharmaca carries a variety of great products containing MCTs.

    NOW Foods’ MCT Oil – A blend of liquefied pure coconut/palm kernel oils.

    Nutiva’s Organic Red Palm Oil – A buttery, MCT-rich oil that’s great for sauces, sautéing and baking. (Note: Red palm oil is not to be confused with palm kernel oil that has a richer amount of MCTs.)

    Nature’s Way’s Liquid Coconut Premium Oil Made from pure, expeller-pressed coconuts, and formulated to maintain a liquid form wither refrigerated or at room temperature. A great alternative for vegetable oil in cooking, or adding to dressing, sauces and dips.

    Jarrow Formulas’ Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Made with organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed coconuts. Try the easy-to-take pill form, or the solid form that’s great for cooking, baking and for use topically on the hair and skin.

    Nature’s Way’s EFAGold Coconut Oil – Another great option made from certified organic, non-GMO, extra virgin coconuts. Cold pressed, hexane-free, unrefined and non-bleached.

  • Get Extra Protection from Natural Sunscreen Boosters

    LadyOnBeachWe know that mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are very effective at physically blocking damaging UVA and UVB rays without harmful chemicals. But did you know that these skin protectors can get a boost from certain natural botanicals that prevent and repair UV radiation damage? Look for these added ingredients in your sunscreen to amp up its protective qualities.

    Licorice

    Recent scientific studies show that licorice root extract can boost our skin’s defenses against UV rays by producing antioxidant molecules in our skin that create a protective shield. The active ingredient in licorice, Licochalcone A, combined with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, gives us a more complete defense. Kiss My Face’s Sunscreen Oat Protein Complex SPF 30 blends licorice extract with skin-calming oat protein and powerful antioxidants to provide extra protection from sun damage. Or add licorice to your daily skin care routine by applying Eminence’s Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum before your sunscreen. This multi-purpose serum combines pure licorice root with skin brighteners to created protected skin with more even tone.

    Tea

    Green and white teas contain antioxidants called polyphenols that make our skin more resistant to UV radiation and protect us against cell damage caused by sunburn, say researchers. Drinking just two cups of green tea daily boosts our skin’s ability to repair damage from the sun’s rays.

    Makes sense, then, that tea extract added to our daily sunscreen can maximize the benefits of these powerful antioxidants. Green tea extract, grape seed juice and zinc oxide come together to protect and moisturize in Elemental Herbs’ Sport Zinc Sunscreen SPF 33, which goes on smooth without leaving a sticky white residue. And white tea and licorice extracts combine with both zinc and titanium dioxide in Mineral Fusion’s Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 15 to provide a light, daily facial moisturizer and sunscreen that’s especially good for oily skin.

    Sesame

    Plant oils have been found to block UV rays, and sesame oil is one of the most effective, blocking about 30 percent of the UV rays. It’s rich in antioxidants too, neutralizing free radicals that cause skin damage and premature wrinkles. Elemental Herbs’ Zinc Sunstick SPF 30 blends organic sesame seed oil with zinc oxide in an easy-to-use stick. And kids and babies get SPF 30 protection from zinc and sesame seed oil in Babo Botanicals’ Clear Zinc Sport Stick that absorbs quickly and goes on clear.

    Aloe Vera

    Known for its skin-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe also helps absorb damaging UV rays. Rich in aloe leaf juice powder, MyChelle’s Sun Shield SPF 28, maximizes sun protection with both botanical and physical sun blockers. Its unscented, chemical-free formula is especially good for sensitive skin. Finally, customer favorite Goddess Garden’s Sunny Body Organic Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 30 adds organic aloe vera and calming lavender and honeysuckle extracts to a lightweight zinc and titanium dioxide formula that sprays on for fast, easy application.

  • The ABCs of Adrenal Health

    Massage Lady
    Are you tired and sluggish? Having trouble sleeping? These are just a few symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which many of our practitioners believe can be the result of a nutrient-poor diet and high levels of stress.

    Finding relief can be easier when you understand how best to nourish your adrenal glands. We asked certified herbalist and nutritionist Shizandra Fox from our Sonoma store to shed some light on this all-too-common syndrome.

    What are the adrenal glands?

    Sometimes called the body’s “shock absorbers,” the adrenals are two thumb-shaped glands located above your kidneys. Kicking into high gear when we feel stress, the adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones including, cortisol, norepinephrine and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

    What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

    People suffering from adrenal fatigue are usually very run down, have difficulty sleeping, wake up with panic and can be overly emotional. In addition, Shizandra often notices her customers complaining of:

    • Low blood sugar
    • Poor circulation
    • Depression
    • Low self-esteem
    • Muscle weakness
    • Pain in the joints
    • Constipation
    • Compromised immune function

    How does diet affect adrenal fatigue?

    What you eat and drink can make a huge difference in how you feel, Shizandra says. That’s why she recommends that before you take any herb or supplement, you first clean up your diet—and keep it cleaned up. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

    • Choose fresh, whole foods, preferably organic and locally grown.
    • Include lean protein with each meal and snack to help stabilize blood sugar.
    • Try to prepare extra nutritious snacks to have on hand when you crave sugar and caffeine.

    Shizandra also recommends preparing the digestive tract with a combination of probiotics, enzymes and minerals that can help boost absorption of any supplements you take for adrenal nourishment. She also suggests a morning “liver flush” of 12–16 ounces of filtered water with lemon juice, and advocates for taking a good B complex that includes pantothenic acid or B5.

    What supplements can help?

    First, Shizandra has customers describe their symptoms, so she can best match an herb or supplement with what they need. “If they’re feeling primarily depleted, for example, then I might suggest rhodiola to support their energy levels,” she says. “Or, if they’re really stressed out, I might suggest ashwagandha for its calming effect.”

    Rhodiola, along with ashwagandha, astragalus and eleuthero are among a class of herbs called adaptogens, which are said to help you adapt to physical, emotional and environmental forms of stress.

    One popular adaptogen blend Shizandra frequently recommends is MegaFood’s Adrenal Strength, which includes functional food mushrooms, along with astragalus and schisandra to help to strengthen adrenals and support immune health.

    And to promote better sleep and help normalize stress-related hormones, Shizandra often suggests Gaia Herbs’ Adrenal Health, which includes a combination of ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, schisandra and wild oats. Shizandra also loves Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist, a naturopath-developed formula that supports and promotes adrenal hormone production with key nutrients and a variety of adaptogenic herbs.

    Finally, because stress plays such an important role in adrenal fatigue, Shizandra tells customers to do anything they can to lower their overall stress level on a daily basis—get enough sleep, exercise regularly or breathe more deeply.

    If you’re feeling run down and are wondering how to nourish your adrenals, talk with a Pharmaca practitioner today for customized solutions.

  • Buyer Spotlight: What's in our Lifestyle Buyer's Medicine Cabinet?

    MCsFavesEver wonder what the person who gets to make all the decisions about our lifestyle category keeps around for herself? We asked our Lifestyle Buyer, Mary Catherine Horgan, to break down the Pharmaca faves she always has with her.

    Wean Green Food Storage Containers
    These are my everyday food storage containers. There’s a perfect size for everything, from sauces to salads. The lids don’t leak and the tempered glass doesn’t break, even when I drop a container. Plus the vibrant colors make me happy!”

    Bucky Travel Pillows
    “I love Bucky's buckwheat and millet-filled pillows that adjust to exactly where I need support, meaning I am comfortable no matter what position I’m snoozing in. The Duo Bed Pillow is great for home and the Minnie travel pillow is perfect for on the go!”

    Radius Vegan Xylitol Antibacterial Cranberry Floss Sachets
    “These single-use packets of dental floss are so ingenious! They’re so small that they can fit into my wallet or purse so I always have dental floss when I need it.”

    SpaRoom Aromaharmony
    “I love how clever this product is—it combines an essential oil diffuser with soothing colored lights and a Bluetooth receiver, creating an instant spa environment in any room.”

    One Love Organics Vitamin C Facial Serum
    We sell so many awesome facial care products at Pharmaca, but this is one of my favorites! I love the scent and consistency—and I really love how this makes my skin brighter and more radiant.”

    Goodlight Natural Candles Tea Lights
    These candles are inexpensive, eco-friendly and unscented—making them the perfect way to add a warm glow to any room. I imagine myself using them to decorate my back deck for a fabulous summer dinner party this summer.”

    Pharmaca Barrel Mug
    “I gave this as a gift to my husband and brother-in-law, both whom use it all the time and get so many compliments on them! They love that the extra insulation keeps beverages keeps their coffee hot for hours.”

  • The Gratitude Challenge: Simple Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice

    Grateful Lady“What we think, we become.”
    — Buddha

    What boosts your mood, lowers your blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system? The answer may surprise you. It’s gratitude.

    Turns out, people who make a point of being thankful for the blessings in their lives feel better than those who do not. Studies show they experience more joy, act with more compassion and even feel less isolated.

    Here at Pharmaca, we understand how important the mind-body connection is to your overall wellbeing. And we know that spending just a few minutes a day practicing gratitude can impact your health. Below are some simple ways you can start your own gratitude practice.

    Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day in a notebook. (Or, just jot them down on your calendar.) Be sure to be as specific as possible. For example: “I am grateful for my strong legs and powerful lungs.” Not, “I am grateful for my health.”

    Send a thank you letter. Take a moment and express gratitude to someone you’ve never properly thanked with a short, handwritten letter. This can be especially powerful if you write to someone with whom you share a complicated history. The trick is to be as genuine as possible.

    Share during dinner. Like saying grace, have your family take turns expressing their appreciation for specific things that happened during their day. Be sure to acknowledge each person’s contribution before going on to the next person.

    Use visual reminders. Inspirational messages, quotes and uplifting pictures around your home or office can remind you to stop, breathe and remember to focus on gratitude during your busy day.

    Read inspirational material. Autobiographies, blog posts, Facebook feeds—there’s a never-ending supply of sources that can move you to appreciate all of the good in your life.

    Take a gratitude walk. Slow down, be in the moment and notice your surroundings. Take in the birds singing, the clouds rolling by, the rustle of leaves in the trees. Pause and appreciate the beauty nature offers us each and every day.

    Notice the lesson. Think about a hardship you’ve experienced—losing a loved one or job. What did you learn from the situation that you can now be grateful for? When you find yourself being negative, stop and reframe your thoughts to find this positive point of view.

    Get support. Find a similar-minded group of people who focus on practicing gratitude, like a meditation group (learn more about how to get started with a simple practice). If there’s no one in your local community, look for one online—or challenge your friends to share what they’re grateful for every day for a week through social media.

    Have other great ideas about how you incorporate an attitude of gratitude into your daily life? Tell us your favorite way to practice gratitude below.

  • Coconut Oil’s Beauty Benefits

    coconutBake with it, take it by the spoonful or smear it on dry elbows: No matter how you use coconut oil, you’ll find that it’s chock full of healthy benefits, due in part to its high content of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

    What are MCTs? First, let’s talk about what they’re not—they’re not long chain triglycerides (LCTs), which are the most abundant fat found in nature and the source of 98 percent of our dietary fat. LCTs are digested slowly and stored in fat deposits; MCTs, on the other hand, are digested quickly and used for immediate energy. MCTs also contain fatty acids that benefit immunity.

    Coconut oil has the highest naturally occurring MCT content, making it a great source of MCTs for both internal and external benefits:

    • Coconut oil nourishes connective tissues, keeping skin healthy and smooth, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting even skin tone.
    • Coconut fats are deeply moisturizing and reduce moisture loss through skin pores.
    • Coconut oil’s antioxidant-like activity provides protection from the aging effects of free radicals.
    • Coconut oil contains fatty acids (e.g. lauric acid) with strong disinfectant and anti-microbial properties, meaning it can help prevent infection when used internally or applied topically to wounds.
    • The lauric acid in coconut oil is also a great mouth disinfectant. Try swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil for 15 minutes (then spitting into the trash) for a brighter smile and enhanced oral health.
    • Coconut and palm kernel oils contain vitamin E—a powerful antioxidant that’s essential for skin growth and repair, protection from cracking, prevention of premature aging and wrinkling, and enhanced sun tolerance.
    • Proteins in coconut oil contribute to cellular health and tissue repair, providing relief for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.

     

    Our coconut oil and MCT-filled favorites:

    Barlean’s MCT Swirl – A daily liquid supplement that features the delicious taste and texture of a coconut smoothie—as well as important omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA.

    Coconut Oils from Nature’s Way and Jarrow Formulas – Choose from a number of multi-use products that are made from pure, organic coconuts. Great for daily supplementation, cooking, and skin and hair care!

    Pharmaca brand Organic Coconut & Vanilla Lip Balm Our very own delicious, nourishing and moisturizing lip balm made with certified organic coconut oil.

    Eminence’s Coconut Age Corrective MoisturizerThis ultra-hydrating, pH-balancing and toning organic face cream is made with coconut oil and coconut water, natural retinol, green apple stem cells and shea butter.

    MyChelle’s Sun Shield SPF 28 Coconut Nourishing broad-spectrum mineral sun protection featuring coconut and palm kernel oils, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

    Nubian Heritage’s Coconut Papaya Deodorant An effective natural deodorant with coconut oil to keep underarm skin moisturized and soft.

    Elemental Herbs’ All Good Organic Coconut Skin FoodOrganic, unrefined coconut oil for all-over moisturizing skin care...in scents like lavender or lemongrass!

    Creative uses for coconut oil

    Use as an all-over moisturizer - Deep condition hair - Use as a cuticle soother to improve nail health - Try it as a shave oil - Run a small dab through wet hair to eliminate frizz - Remove makeup - Clear up cold sores with coconut’s anti-viral properties - Use as a massage oil - Combine with salt or sugar to make the perfect exfoliant - Use as diaper cream for baby’s bottom - Decrease stretch marks during pregnancy - Use as an after-sun soother - Use as a carrier base for essential oils (e.g. natural perfume or natural bug repellant) - Use in dips, spreads, sauces or add to food and smoothies - Swap it for butter or vegetable oil in baking and cooking

  • Ayurvedic Beauty: Let Your Dosha Guide You

    Face of a young womanAyurveda is an ancient natural healing system that teaches us how to maintain optimal health by balancing our mind, body, spirit and environment. To help achieve this balance we need to understand the three doshas, or fundamental energies, that are found in all of us. One dosha is usually prominent in each of us, and keeping that dosha in balance lets us look and feel our best—while dosha imbalance leads to troublesome skin conditions. Here’s more about how our doshas work.

    Determine your dosha

    To help figure out which of the three is your strongest dosha, take this simple Dosha Quiz. You’ll find out if your mind-body type is mostly Vata (air), Pitta (fire) or Kapha (earth). Your dosha determines what energy rules your body, inside and out.

    In terms of your skin, these characteristics are typical for each dosha.

    Vata: Ruled by air. Skin: dry, thin, bruises easily, prone to premature aging

    Pitta: Ruled by fire. Skin: sensitive, reactive, prone to redness and inflammation

    Kapha: Ruled by Earth and water. Skin: oily, plump, soft, large pores, prone to pimples and blackheads

     

    Dosha do’s

    For your skin to look its best, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend caring for it in a way that balances the energy of your dosha. We asked Kathryn Fairbanks, esthetician and Ayurvedic expert in our Berkeley store, about the best ways to enhance natural beauty and prevent dosha imbalance.

    First off, Kathryn says, it’s important to understand that while our skin type is usually a reflection of our primary dosha, sometimes another dosha comes into play—so ask a practitioner to help guide you toward products that can help maintain balance between the two.

    Vata

    These lively, restless souls need to keep skin nourished and moisturized, and take steps to treat premature wrinkles and lines. Cleansing skin without drying it out is key; Kathryn recommends Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular Cleansing Oil for the job. Fruit stem cells brighten skin tone and resveratrol-rich grape seed oil balances skin’s natural moisture, and nutrient-dense and collagen-building products help strengthen Vata’s thin skin. Derma E’s Deep Wrinkle Reverse Moisturizer with Peptides Plus uses two powerful peptides to build collagen along with antioxidant green tea and vitamin C to keep further damage in check.

    Pitta

    Keeping cool is the goal for Pittas to avoid redness, inflammation or rashes. To treat reactive skin, Kathryn recommends oil-based vitamin C serums like Sanitas’ Vita C Serum. With a whopping 25 percent lipophilic (i.e. oil attracting) vitamin C concentration, this powerful antioxidant penetrates the skin to repair damage without irritation. Cooling mists and plant hydrosols used throughout the day will ease redness and calm Pitta skin, too. Try Jurlique’s Calendula Redness Rescue Calming Mist with soothing calendula and chamomile, or evanhealy’s Lavender Facial Tonic Hydrosol for sensitive skin.

    Kapha

    Detoxing is the key to healthy Kapha skin, flushing toxins that tend to accumulate in this dosha’s thick, oily skin. Evanhealy’s Lemongrass Facial Polish with Moroccan clay and natural astringent lemongrass is perfect for decongesting skin and deep cleaning pores, says Kathryn. Keep oiliness and blemishes in check with Astara’s Blue Flame Purifying Treatment that clarifies the skin with bacteria-fighting totara tree essence and tea tree oil. Evanhealy’s Lemon Thyme Facial Tonic Hydrosol is another good choice to spritz on after cleansing and throughout the day to balance and tone skin.

  • A Naturopath’s Guide to Treating Anxiety

    RedheadAnxiety, in all its forms, is a common condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. It can manifest as excessive worry or unwarranted fear, or even nervousness, shortness of breath or a racing heart. If you experience any of these symptoms, read on to learn more about anxiety and how you can treat it, naturally.

    What is anxiety?

    Anxiety is a normal, albeit unpleasant, human emotion that all people experience, ranging from mild unease to intense debilitating fear. But anxiety is different fromfear; fear is a rational response to real danger, whereas anxiety usually lacks a clear or realistic cause.

    Feeling anxious about a work presentation, preparing for a test or anxiousness over meeting a blind date constitutes normal anxiety. Abnormal anxiety happens consistently and at higher levels that interfere with normal life. For people with anxiety disorders, life can be overwhelming, and their symptoms can manifest into physical disorders such as adrenal fatigue, compromised immunity and heart disease.

    Common symptoms of general anxiety include the following:

    • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
    • Problems sleeping
    • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
    • Shortness of breath
    • Heart palpitations
    • Inability to be still and calm
    • Dry mouth
    • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
    • Nausea and gastric upset
    • Muscle tension
    • Dizziness

    What causes anxiety?

    Many factors can contribute to a person’s likelihood of experiencing anxiety. Here are a few common causes:

    • Biochemical problems, including substance abuse [e.g. alcohol, drugs (recreational or prescribed), caffeine or tobacco], stress hormones and neurotransmitter deficiencies (e.g. low GABA or serotonin levels)
    • Genetic abnormalities, or errors with neurotransmitter receptors
    • Environmental factors such as trauma, life stress, toxicities or fungal exposure
    • Psychological factors, including daily stress

    Conversely, the effects of long-term anxiety on the body and overall health can be significant. The stress hormone cortisol is elevated during periods of stress and anxiety, and chronic cortisol elevation can lead to poor learning and memory, low immune function, low bone density, weight gain, increased blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease, and more.

    Treating anxiety naturally

    The two divisions of the autonomic nervous system—the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems--are heavily involved in our anxiety response. When we’re anxious, we go into sympathetic overdrive, also known as the fight-or-flight response. On the opposite end, the parasympathetic nervous system works to regulate repair, maintenance and restoration of the body.

    The below treatments are focused on supporting the work of the parasympathetic system by addressing nutritional factors that can immediately help bring the body back into balance and reduce anxiety symptoms.

    1. Avoid alcohol
    2. Avoid caffeine
    3. Avoid sugar
    4. Address B vitamin deficiency (particularly B1, B3, B6)
    5. Address calcium or magnesium deficiencies
    6. Address and eliminate food sensitivities and allergens

    Adopting a healthy lifestyle is pivotal to managing anxiety. Here are a few vital lifestyle changes that can help relieve anxiety symptoms.

    1. Exercise regularly. It can help reduce tension, anxiety and mild depression, and improve mental outlook, self-esteem and our ability to handle stress.
    2. Get 7-8 hours sleep. Sleep deprivation disables mental and physical function, and makes anxiety worse.
    3. Eat a whole-food and plant-based diet that includes a rainbow of fruits and veggies and complex carbohydrates, balanced protein and good fats. This will also help reduce exposure to toxins (pesticides, heavy metals and food additives) and support blood sugar.

    And remember, stress management is critical in managing anxiety. Efforts to calm the mind and body can help generate a physiological relaxation response. To achieve this response, try deep breathing or progressive relaxation (whereby one compares muscle tension with muscle relaxation to bring awareness to tension throughout the body and thereby consciously change tension to relaxation). Joyful, relaxing activities—such as a walk on the beach, a hot bubble bath, a cup of tea by the fireplace or yoga—along with quality sleep, can evoke a relaxation response.

    Supplements for anxiety

    Fish oil. Anxiety sufferers tend to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA, a fatty acid found in fish oil, nourishes the brain and nervous system. Try Nordic Naturals or Pharmax brands for superior quality and absorption.

    Pharma-GABA. GABA is an important neurotransmitter that slows down the firing between the synapses in the brain. People with low GABA are prone to anxiety and depression, so supplementing with GABA can help to slow down the rapid-fire worry. Try Thorne Research’s PharmaGABA, Natural Factors’ Pharma GABA or Jarrow Formulas’ GABA Soothe (also featuring a blend of relaxing herbs).

    L-theanine. Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that helps promote alpha waves in the brain; alpha waves are calming brain waves that promote a relaxed physical and mental condition. Theanine also increases GABA. Try Natural Factors’ Suntheanine L-Theanine or Jarrow Formulas’ Theanine 100.

    Kava Kava. Kava has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, heart palpitations, chest pains, headache, dizziness and gastric irritation. Kava is effective for anxiety in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Note: Do not use kava if you have liver problems or regularly consume alcohol. Try Herb Pharm’s Kava or Pharmaca brand Kava.

    Magnesium. Magnesium relaxes small muscles throughout the body and aids in metabolism; deficiency has been known to exacerbate anxiety. Try Pharmaca brand Magnesium Citrate, Natural Vitality’s Calm powdered magnesium or Pure Encapsulations’ Magnesium (glycinate).

    B Complex. B vitamin deficiency also exacerbates anxiety, since B vitamins are critical to many functions in the body including calming the nervous system. Try New Chapter’s Coenzyme B Food Complex, Thorne Research’s Basic B Complex or Pharmaca brand B Complex.

    Multivitamin. Take a quality multi everyday to ensure you’re receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, since deficiencies can aggravate anxiety. Try food-based and readily absorbed multis from New Chapter or MegaFood.

    WishGarden Herbs’ Emotional Ally is a specialized combination of emotionally supportive herbs such as St. Johns wort, skullcap and passionflower that can help you ground and re-center.

    Hyland's Calms Forte is a simple, non-toxic homeopathic blend to aid nervous tension and sleeplessness. A great product to partner with other herbal anxiety remedies or try alone!
  • Buyer Spotlight: What's in our Supplement Buyer's Medicine Cabinet?

    Don'sSuppsOur health care practitioners are pros at recommending natural remedies for customers. But what are the essentials they always keep on hand? We asked Don Summerfield, Pharmaca's vice president of integrative medicine (and manager of our supplements category), to tell us about his Pharmaca favorites.

    Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health
    “I take this for general overall stress support. It nourishes my adrenal glands, boosts my adrenal function and provides relief from fatigue—without having to resort to caffeinated beverages.”

    Host Defense Reishi Mushroom
    “I am a huge fan of medicinal mushroom supplements and take them every day. My favorite species is the reishi mushroom, referred to respectfully as the ‘Mushroom of Immortality;’ it’s well known for supporting general wellness and vitality.”

    Garden of Life mykind Organics Men’s Multi
    “I take the mykind Organics Men’s Multi because it offers comprehensive nutritional support. I love that this supplement is made from real whole foods: fruits, veggies and herbs such as lemons, apples, basil, red cabbage, celery, tomatoes. Plus it’s Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.”

    Pharmaca Coenzyme Q10
    “CoQ10 would be on my desert island top 10 list. I take 200 mg of CoQ10 daily to support healthy heart function and prevent gum disease. CoQ10 plays a vital role in energy production within cells, and protects cholesterol from oxidation.”

    Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
    “A high-quality fish oil is always a part of my daily supplement program. I take three capsules of Ultimate Omega daily to support my heart, improve joint flexibility and mobility, and to help prevent overall inflammatory conditions.”

    Megafood Turmeric Booster
    “Each morning I make a fresh coconut milk smoothie with mixed berries, kale, cilantro and a heaping scoop of Megafood Turmeric Booster. Turmeric is the queen of herbs from the Ayurvedic medical system, renowned for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity.”

    New Chapter Cinnamon Force
    “Cinnamon Force is a fabulous supplement to help normalize blood sugar levels and create immediate cellular energy. I love to bite into a Cinnamon Force capsule after each meal to release that burst of fresh cinnamon flavor.”

  • Parenthood 101: Our “Love-It” List

    Mother with babyA new baby brings so much joy and happiness—and often, a serious learning curve. With so much information awaiting new parents, we wanted to provide a few can’t-live-without necessities and tips from the new mothers among our friends and family here at Pharmaca, from helpful toys to homeopathic remedies.

    Safe, entertaining toys

    Toys need to be safe, fun and keep them entertained for long periods of time! For napping or bedtime, marketing manager Cathy turns to Cloud B’s Twilight Turtle. “It’s one of his favorite toys, and also helps my baby sleep!” This plush turtle projects constellations on the ceiling, providing a focal point that relaxes babies and offers a nightlight effect to ease fear of the dark.

    For bath time, choose toys that can’t trap water. “Squirty toys are fun, but they can hold in water and tend to grow mold,” says Tess, mom to 9-month old Hagen. “I like to make sure my little guy’s bath toys are soft and squishy yet sealed, so I don’t have to worry when they inevitably end up in his mouth.” We love Green Sprouts' adorable Stacking Duck Set for bathtime.

    And for on-the-go entertainment, Water WOW! books are inexpensive and mess-free, and feed kids’ creativity anywhere—in the car, on a plane or at the kitchen table. These travel activity books will keep kids occupied for hours with reusable pages and a refillable pen—when your child is done with a page, just erase and start over!

    The daily diaper grind

    In those first months, be prepared to change a LOT of diapers, so think about what kinds of diapers you want to use. If you’re looking for disposables, Seventh Generation offers a convenient solution without fragrances, latex, petroleum-based lotions or chlorine processing. And while the idea of cloth diapers can be intimidating, “It’s easier than you think!” one of our moms insisted. “Try GroVia’s reusable diapers—we’d throw dirty diapers into a bucket with a secure lid and just wash.” A word of warning when going reusable: be sure not to use diaper rash ointments with talc, which creates buildup in the diaper and reduces absorbency. For more on the ins and outs of GroVia’s diapers, check out this handy guide.

    Finally, make sure you’re ready to conquer diaper rash. There are several effective products that our moms recommend to quickly eliminate this uncomfortable skin condition, caused by wetness trapped under diapers. GroVia’s Magic Stick Diaper Ointment works immediately to sooth and clear any irritation caused by diaper rash. And when it comes to cleansing delicate skin, Cathy, mom to 2-year-old Rhone, recommends the Mustela line, in particular their naturally formulated Stelatopia Cream Cleanser.

    On the go

    Traveling with infants can be a challenge, but with a few convenient and packable products, it can be a stress-free experience. Whitney, mom to Avery, made a habit of taking a portable tent from PeaPod with her when leaving the house. The tent provides a comfy and contained environment for picnics in the park and backyard barbeques, allowing your baby to feel nested anywhere. It’s also a great portable sun shade for beach days and sporting events.

    Another key element of travel with children is, of course, snacks. Make sure you’ve always got nutrition in hand by packing it up in Kids Konserve’s stainless steel food containers that are leak proof, insulated and keep food hot or cold for hours. Convenient and durable, these containers ensure you’re always ready to nip hunger pains in the bud!

    Keeping them healthy

    When your little one gets sick, you want access to effective remedies—that are safe and don’t come with side effects. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can be great for just this time in your little ones life. Here are the most popular supplements recommended by our expert parenting panel .

    Gaia Herbs' Sniffle Support, a natural blend of herbs known to support and soothe ear, nose and throat inflammation, is especially helpful for croup, an airway infection that often results in a dry cough.

    Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets work fast to relieve the pain of teething

    Nordic Naturals’ Baby’s DHA encourages healthy eye, brain and heart development, are thought to have calming effects, and come in a convenient dropper

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about other recommendations for newborn necessities.

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