Pharmaca Blog

  • Natural Eczema Relief

    PlayfulScience has yet to figure out the exact cause of eczema, a chronic skin condition, but those who experience it know there are variety of things that can set it off—causing red, inflamed, crusty or itchy patches. Children are especially prone; about 10-15 percent of babies will have symptoms. Heat and stress can trigger flare-ups, as can food allergies, soaps, detergents, perfumes and even rough fabrics like wool. If you or your little ones suffer from eczema, try these practices to help ease symptoms.

    Cleanse with shea butter or neem oil. Body washes or soaps can be very drying to sensitive skin; look for one with shea butter or neem oil that are rich in skin-saving fatty acids. Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Chamomile and Argan Oil Baby Eczema Soap cleanses babies and adults with super hydrating shea butter and argan oil, as well as soothing chamomile. Theraneem's Maximum Strength Neem Oil Cleansing Bar Soap combines neem, olive and coconut oils to calm and safely cleanse sensitive skin.

    Moisturize naturally, without synthetic chemicals. Keeping skin well hydrated locks in your skin’s own moisture in and can prevent dry patches from occurring. Moisturizing lotions or creams should be applied often during the day, but be sure they are free from potential irritants like fragrance, parabens or synthetic additives. For severely dry and inflamed skin, esthetician Renee Oleson in Portland says Avene’s Trixera+ Selectiose Emollient Cream is a customer favorite. Featuring mineral-rich thermal spring water and evening primrose oil, this soothing balm calms hyper-sensitive skin and has received a seal of acceptance by the National Eczema Association.

    For a lightweight, yet deeply hydrating, moisturizer, Alaffia’s EveryDay Shea Butter Unscented Body Lotion combines unrefined shea butter with soothing lemongrass. And for kids, parents love Babo Botanicals’ Oatmeal Calendula Moisturizing Baby Lotion, filled with gentle organic botanicals that calm and colloidal oatmeal that comforts dry skin, especially on the scalp.

    Ease the itch with herbs and minerals. Topical ointments can help soothe the itch, and prevent infections in scratched skin. Herbal remedies with burdock root and barberry like Derma E’s Psorzema Creme are great for reducing inflammation. Water can soothe itchiness too, and Avene’s Thermal Spring Water Spray's cooling mist is pH balanced and rich in trace elements and minerals. Or try a warm epsom salt bath—the magnesium in the salt helps reduce swelling (stick with just a teaspoon of salt in the water for babies, and be sure to moisturize afterwards). Hydrocortisone creams are a quick fix, but aren’t recommended for long-term use because they gradually thin the skin and make it more prone to infection.

    Add anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthing supplements to your diet. Supplements like fish oil and probiotics can help, says Dr. Lee Dennis, a naturopathic doctor in Portland, by adding important nutrients that reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system to keep it healthy. Fish oils, like Pharmaca’s Omega-3 Clinical Strength Fish Oil, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that researchers say can reduce leukotrienes, an inflammatory substance that plays a role in eczema. Probiotics are another good addition, as they can keep our immune system strong. Try Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS Higher Potency capsules or Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus Powder, which deliver a blend of beneficial probiotic bacteria.

  • Get Inspired by our Practitioners’ Healthy Resolutions!

    Get the year started on a healthy note with these smart goals for the new year.

    HF VitamineralGreen 300g Go green
    "Starting the day off with powdered greens is a great habit to get in to. It’s very simple and can help with digestion, detoxing, everything! Try adding Healthforce Nutritionals’ Vitamineral Green to your first glass of water.”-Anne, Herbalist, La Jolla

    SHOP GREEN FOODS >

    Pastilles Try a new way to destress
    “A lot of people are interested in aromatherapy right now, especially Aloha Bay’s Chakra Candles, as well as Pharmaca’s Becalm Lavender, a soothing blend of lavender, orange and geranium. And Rescue Remedy Pastilles are good for everyone in need of a safe way to stay calm, even kids.”-Sarah, ND, West Seattle

    SHOP STRESS & ANXIETY >

     

     BioS_006_BOX CAPS_080210.indd Nourish your skin from the inside
    “I can’t live without Natural Factors’ Biosil. It can bring your hair back to life, it helps with fine lines and wrinkles…when you take it regularly in combination with omega-7s, it’s like a mini facelift!”-Tammara, Esthetician, Greenwood Village

    SHOP HAIR, SKIN & NAILS HEALTH >

    M_CranberryEnzymeMask Use a facial mask once a week
    “I read an article by a skin care guru that said that consistent at-home care of your skin can do so much to help skin look good and put off the need for professional interventions. So I’m going to start with Sanitas’ Cranberry Enzyme Mask!”-Mary Catherine, Lifestyles Buyer

    SHOP FACIAL CARE >

     RawCleanse Clean up your diet
    “Start the new year by detoxing from the inside out! Learn which foods might be contributing to inflammation, low energy, foggy thinking, extra pounds. Talk to our practitioners about healthier food choices and cleansing supplements. And follow that up with yoga, hiking and getting outdoors more!”-Shizandra, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Sonoma

    SHOP CLEANSE & COLON HEALTH >

  • 10 Healthy Habits For a New Year, New You!

    Woman Doing YogaIt’s been almost four weeks since we’ve made resolutions for better health in 2015. But so often our lofty health aspirations set us up for failure; this year, let’s make the resolution to be easier on ourselves and more accepting of our limitations. Instead of a whole life-overhaul—strict juice cleanses, promising to work out every day, consuming nothing but kale and water—consider a simpler approach: step by step, add in a few healthy habits. By starting small, we can eventually effect dramatic change.

    1. Get an exercise buddy. Accountability is so important. Letting others down doesn’t make us feel good, so committing to an activity with someone else makes us more likely to stick to the plan. Find someone with similar health goals to meet up with for a walk around the park, a class at the gym, or a run around your neighborhood.
    2. Sub a smoothie for a meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can get your garden-fresh greens and fresh fruits in a delicious, rich and quick blend of fruits and vegetables to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. On the go? Fill a Blender Bottle with Vega’s Protein Smoothie or Nutritional Shake powders for a fast, super healthy meal substitute. (Get inspired by a few healthy, green smoothie ideas here.)
    3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Studies show that you’ll be more likely to choose a healthy snack if it’s within reach. Set a fruit bowl on your desk or kitchen counter, making sure this cornucopia of good health is in your eyeline as a constant reminder of good fuel for your next snack attack.
    4. Get up, stand up. You’ve most likely heard about how too much desk-sitting can cause all kinds of health problems. If you’re a deskworker, considering asking your boss about installing a standing desk, which they may happily subsidize in order to prevent injuries and conditions such as carpal tunnel or chronic back issues. If you have a laptop, using boxes or books to elevate it can work in a pinch. Want to switch it up, but don’t want to stand? Rotating between a fit ball and chair may be just the thing to keep your core engaged and gradually strengthen back muscles.
    5. Fill your feed with healthy food. If you’re like the majority of the world, it’s likely one of the first things you do in the morning is to check your social media and news feeds. Get inspired by cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and EatingWell on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you surround yourself with ideas, you’re more likely to keep healthy meal ideas—and their fresh ingredients—in mind when grocery shopping for your next meal. Use your social media feeds to discover new blogs, get out of a cooking rut, or to explore other diets (Check out PaleOMG for paleo suggestions, or fulfill your quest for a Meatless Monday with ideas from vegetarian food blogs such as The Sprouted Kitchen).
    6. Make a meal for the week. A simple meal of quinoa and vegetables makes a filling, healthy lunch, is easy to prepare and stores well in the fridge. Whip up a batch on Sunday night, then separate into 5 to-go containers. By eliminating one decision from your week, life just got a whole lot easier. Similarly, make a healthy breakfast the most important—and most convenient—meal of the day by preparing a big pot of oatmeal and packing containers of healthy toppings (e.g. berries, flaxseed, granola, chopped nuts and toasted seeds) for each morning.
    7. Practice gratitude. The power of a gratitude journal can be surprising and life changing. Something as small as writing down what you are appreciative of can help you keep perspective while encouraging positive thinking, optimism and increased energy throughout the day.
    8. Make sleep a priority. Without enough sleep, productivity and efficiency suffer. Make sure to get 7–8 hours of quality sleep a night by setting a schedule and committing to a bedtime that gives you enough rest. Instead of watching TV or checking your social feeds, take the last hour of your day to prepare for the following day—making a schedule or to-do list, packing a lunch, laying out clothes. Creating a consistent environment is also key to sufficient sleep; for some, white noise helps to drown out distractions. Humidifiers do double-duty – providing both much-needed moisture and soft background noise (we like the aesthetically pleasing Drop Humidifier from Crane).
    9. Meditate. Intimidated by meditation? Don’t be. While deep meditation takes practice, a good beginner routine is as simple as relaxing your brain for 5–10 minutes a day. Similar to resting during periods of exercise, your brain also needs time to recharge after writing an intensive proposal, participating in a meeting or coordinating a day of intricate scheduling.
    10. Stay social, stay smart. When you connect with other people, your brain stays alert and focused through the exchange of ideas. Making new contacts and increasing your social circles also helps to keep the brain synapses firing, opening your mind to new opportunities and creativity. Make it a monthly goal to have lunch with someone outside your immediate network—chances are, you’ll end up happier and more well-connected.

    Do these steps still feel too big? Start small: try to floss your teeth, drink more water and call your mother.

  • Facial Oils to the Rescue

    WashingFaceHorizIf you thought topical oils were a no-no in your skin care regimen, think again. Turns out natural oils can actually help maintain our skin’s all-important moisture balance, and keep us from drying out or feeling too oily.

    “Our skin’s transdermal layer is comprised of oil and water,” says Laeh Benyamin, esthetician at our south Boulder store. “After cleansing your face, it’s good to get that balance back on the skin.” Why? Ignoring it can exacerbate skin that’s prone to acne, since too little moisture can make breakouts worse and impede the healing process. “Even people with oily skin can benefit from using an oil on their face, because it helps rebalance the oil ratio,” she says. And for normal or dry skin, oils can help boost water absorption and improve overall hydration and elasticity.

    Here’s how to use them. After cleansing, Laeh recommends leaving skin damp, or spritzing face with a toner or hydrosol—any sort of water-based substance that will bond with the oil. Next, warm the oil in your palms and pat onto skin. “Less is more! A dime size is appropriate for face, neck and décolleté,” says Laeh. Here are some of her favorites.

    “Jojoba is good for oily skin, since it’s light and most like the consistency of our natural sebum,” Laeh says. Find it in Jurlique’s Skin Balancing Face Oil, which also features shea butter and avocado oil for extra nourishment.

    “A heavier oil is better for a drier skin type—evening primrose oil is really nice for that,” she says. Suki’s Nourishing Facial Oil features evening primrose and other good-smelling botanicals like lavender, calendula and apricot kernel oil. Laeh also recommends Acure’s Organic Argan Oil for a super-hydrating experience (bonus: It’s good for nourishing hair, too!).

    For more middle-of-the-road skin types, Laeh recommends oils like almond, grapeseed or rosehip—like Aura Cacia’s Organic Rosehip Oil. “Rosehip naturally contains vitamins A and C, which means it’s very anti-inflammatory, and good for normal or even reddish skin,” she says. Laeh also likes evanhealy’s Pomegranate Repair Serum, featuring sea buckthorn, which hydrates while firming and diminishing age spots.

    No matter which you choose, start by using the oil in the evening, to judge how your skin will react. In extremely dry situations, go ahead and use it in the morning, too. Once your skin’s oil is back in balance, even acneic skin will begin to heal, and your skin will be softer and more radiant.

    Speak with a Pharmaca esthetician about how natural oils can help get your skin back in balance.

  • Buyer Spotlight: What’s in Our Beauty Buyer’s Makeup Bag?

    TianasPicksEver wonder what the person who gets to make all the decisions about our beauty products buys for herself? We asked our Beauty Buyer, Tiana Ukleja, to break down the skin care and cosmetic faves she always has with her.

    Rume Cosmetic Bag
    “This bag is great and is a must every time I travel! It has three separate pockets—one holds all of my makeup, one for my jewelry and hair ties, and one for my toothbrush.”

    Clarisonic Mia 2
    “This tool is ah-mazing! I use it every morning and it exfoliates so well. It opens up my pores and allows my skin to soak up all my treatments. My face has never felt cleaner.”

    Sanitas Moisture Mist
    “I love this product because it’s great as a toner, hydration mist or for setting makeup. A great three in one! Living in Colorado, my skin needs an afternoon refresher so I usually have one at my desk, one in my bathroom and one in my purse.

    Skin Owl Geranium Beauty Drops
    “I travel a lot, so when I’m in a humid climate, I use it as a moisturizer for my face or on my body when I step out of the shower. It offers amazing hydration and smells yummy! At home in Colorado, it’s a great serum to layer under a moisturizer.”

    jane iredale Eye Gloss in Champagne
    “This color is fab-u-lous! I love a bit a shimmer on my skin, and this color stands up on its own as a single shade. I also use it as a primer for when I am ready to take my eye makeup to the next level.”

    W3LL PEOPLE Bio Extreme Mascara
    “This mascara wand is one of the best—it stays firm so there is very little to no clumping, and it does the job in just a few swipes. I also like that I don’t get raccoon eyes when I wash my face, since it comes off so easily.”

    John Masters Citrus Neroli Detangler
    “I have thick, thick, curly hair that tangles every time I sleep. This product makes my hair feel so hydrated and smooth. I use it as a leave-in conditioner.”

  • Natural Solutions for Seasonal Affective Disorder

    YogaStretchIf you feel a little extra blue when the seasons change—from fall to winter or even from spring to summer—you may be one of the 5 percent of the US population who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    “SAD is traditionally associated with the winter months, but some people experience it in the fall or the spring. Simply the change of light can trigger it,” says Dr. Brad Jacobs, MD, and chair of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board. “SAD basically equates to changes of behavior or mood that are associated with the seasons.”

    While we don’t know exactly how or why SAD occurs, we know that reduced sunlight can disrupt our internal clocks, setting off changes in our mood. People suffering from SAD usually feel blue, have trouble sleeping, have low energy levels, and are irritable or impatient, says Dr. Jacobs. While the symptoms are usually not felt as severely as major depression, the signs are fairly similar.

    We also know that Seasonal Affective Disorder tends to be four times more prevalent in women, especially during childbearing years. And if you have a family history of SAD or any type of depression, you’re also more prone to it.

    So how do you know what you’ve got is actually SAD? Dr. Jacobs recommends first speaking to your health care provider about your thyroid levels and blood counts--if they're abnormal, they can be mistaken for depression, instead of hypothyroidism or anemia. In addition, be sure to manage any and all chronic conditions, as these can exacerbate symptoms of depression; optimal management of chronic conditions may resolve or dramatically improve symptoms of depression.

    Dr. Jacobs recommends speaking to your health care provider about your thyroid levels, blood counts or any other chronic conditions that could increase your chances of experiencing SAD. Ultimately, if you have noticed yourself feeling sad or depressed during one specific season—and not during the others—doctors will look more closely at the chances you have SAD.

    The most important thing is to diagnose it, says Dr. Jacobs, so you can start treating it. “One I’m a big proponent of, which is good for regular depression too, is photo or light therapy,” he says. Look for a lightbox with at least 10,000 lux, to be used for 30 minutes once or twice daily. (Lux is a photometric unit. For reference, Dr. Jacobs says, direct sunlight equates to about 50,000 lux, and office lighting about 300-500 lux.)

    “A light box will give you the light stimulation that you’re missing,” says Dr. Jacobs, adding that studies have shown light therapy to be as effective as SSRIs (i.e. anti-depressants) in treating SAD, but with fewer side effects.

    Another effective treatment? Exercise. “We typically recommend that you do it 5-6 days week/30 minutes per day in order to see those same results as an anti-depressant,” he says.

    “There are also a number of herbs that may be effective—the same herbs you think about for depression,” says Dr. Jacobs. He recommends St. John’s wort or SAM-e, and working with a practitioner when you do.

  • Top 5 Ways To Recover After Exercise

    Woman stretchingCongratulations! You’ve joined a gym or started a new fitness program. But did you know that what you do after your workout—especially in the first two hours—is almost as important as the exercise itself? Try these techniques to help your body recover more quickly and maximize the impact of your exercise.

    Rehydrate: Water is a simple choice for rehydration, and is fine for low-impact exercise under 45 minutes. But more intense exercise, or exercise performed in hot weather, requires that you replace fluids lost through sweat with electrolytes and sodium. Try Nuun’s U Natural Hydration Goji Berry Green Tea tablets for an easy do-it-yourself sports drink without added sugars.

    Replace Carbohydrates: Glycogen, stored in our muscles, fuels our bodies during exercise. That’s why it’s important to quickly replace lost glycogen during the “carbohydrate window” that occurs within 60 minutes after stopping—when muscles are converting carbohydrate-rich drinks and food into glycogen up to three times faster. In addition to eating carb-rich food, Boulder-based nutrition expert Julie McGinnis recommends L-Glutamine, an amino acid supplement that boosts the production of glycogen and helps us refuel. She likes Jarrow Formulas’ L-Glutamine Powder. TIP: Refueling in the first 15-30 minutes of the carbohydrate window is most effective.

    Add Protein: Along with carbs, protein is needed to repair the micro tears in muscles after workouts, especially weight-bearing exercises like running and weight lifting. Whey, a by-product of cheese production, is a good source of protein and is rich in branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help repair muscles and prevent soreness, says Julie. One serving of Pharmaca’s Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder Drink is a quick, tasty way to get 15 g of protein. Fat-free chocolate milk is another good choice for protein and carb replacement, say researchers, since a 16 oz serving has about 15 g of protein and twice the carbs of plain milk. Vegetarians and vegans can turn to spirulina, an algae-based complete protein. (Find it in Health Force Nutritionals’ Spirulina Manna). TIP: Most experts recommend 10-20 g of protein after a workout.

    Treat sore muscles: Stretching for 15 minutes after your workout can prevent soreness, but in those times when you know you’ve done too much, topical treatments or warm baths can also help, Julie tells us. Arnica relieves pain and stiffness, and speeds recovery of bruises; Boericke & Tafel’s Arniflora Arnica Gel with 8% tincture of arnica Montana rubbed on four times a day will help reduce inflammation and pain. Warm baths are another good choice for soothing aches; Kneipp’s Arnica Joint & Muscle Mineral Bath Salts combine arnica, pine and thermal salts to relieve soreness.

    Take a break: As good as it feels to find your groove with your exercise program, it’s important to take a break to let muscles repair. Fitness coaches say that after 8-12 weeks, take a week off. That doesn’t mean going back to couch-potato status—instead, transition to a less intense exercise to keep you moving and flexible, like yoga, dancing or walking. You’ll come back to your favorite exercise renewed.

  • Glass, Metal, Plastic? Choosing the Right Water Bottle

    WaterDrop_484x484You know proper hydration is critical in maintaining great health and strong immunity. Water’s multitude of benefits includes increased metabolism, boosts in energy, healthy, glowing skin, and optimal brain and kidney function (and pretty much every other organ in your body!).

    Meeting the recommended 91 oz per day intake of fluids, however, can be a challenge. To get started on the path to better hydration, make sure you’re keeping fluids accessible at all times by getting into the habit of keeping a refillable water bottle nearby.

    When it comes to selecting a bottle, the market is saturated with options. From body construction (plastic, aluminum, steel, glass) to lid technology (widemouth, straw sippers, attached caps and loop-handled tops) and insulation (single-wall to triple-wall insulation), you’ll find an endless variety of brands and features to consider. To simplify your search, we’ve created a list of qualities to consider when picking out your bottle, helping to ensure you’ll find exactly what you need to stay hydrated in the new year.

    1. Easy drinking. Think about your preferred drinking method, and make it as convenient as possible to hydrate properly—would you be more likely to drink through a straw or traditional cap? Though most bottles offer lids with a standard spout, Lifefactory bottles offer a straw top option. (Fun fact: Studies have shown that drinking through a straw can help increase water intake with each sip). Also, look for leak-proof caps to prevent spills—crucial for your bag or near your laptop.
    1. Safety first. You’ve likely heard of concerns over bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used to make food storage products—including disposable water bottles—since the 1960s. This potentially harmful chemical is thought to leach into water from the packaging source; fortunately, water bottles made with BPA are rare these days (and you’ll only find BPA-free water bottles at pharmaca.com and in our stores). Still concerned about plastic? Lifefactory bottles are made with glass to eliminate worries and preserve taste, and are encased in a silicon sleeve for non-slip handling and breakage prevention.
    1. Portability and packability. Consider how and where you’ll be toting your bottle. For use at your desk, a larger 22 oz or 1 L bottle will keep you hydrated throughout the day. For stashing in your purse or pack, Lifefactory offers a smaller 9 oz version of its glass silicon-sleeved bottle—perfect for errand-running or a short outing.Would a handle make you more likely to carry your bottle with you? Lifefactory’s loop bottle cap fits on its 22 and 16 oz bottles, making it easy to carry or attach to a backpack. And if you’ve challenged yourself to increase your water intake significantly, try the 2.2 L Enviro Bottle to hold your entire daily water requirement. The Enviro is perfect for a New Year’s cleanse, long workouts, a day at the beach or camping trips. This hefty bottle also features an attached cap (no more lost caps!), a nylon carry strap for over-the shoulder carrying and a jumbo handle for easy mobility. (Find it in Pharmaca stores).
    1. For the kiddos. To survive around little ones, this bottle has to pass the kid test: leak-proof, spill-proof, shatter-proof—essentially, bombproof. That’s where Kid Basix’s stainless steel Sippy Bottle2 comes in, featuring handles for two-handed holding, a wide and stable base, dust cap to keep the spout clean, nubbed sleeve for no-slip grip, leak-proof and spill-proof construction, and—best of all—a lid that converts from sippy to straw, for when your child decides it’s time to drink like the big kids. For even younger sippers, the Lifefactory Glass Baby Bottle provides a clean taste without the worry, in 4 oz and 9 oz versions.
    1. Let’s face it—looks matter. Earthlust’s food-grade stainless steel bottles are available in a range of cool, eye-catching graphics, making them stand out from the crowd. Choose from geometric designs, animal graphics (we like the cool matte black 1 L stallion and the 13 oz parakeet bottles), colorful insects or botanical collections.
    1. Hot and cold. Water bottle technology has advanced significantly, allowing liquids to stay hot or cold for extended periods of time. Pharmaca’s Triple Insulated Hot & Cold Beverage Bottle is great for keeping your coffee hot for up to 8 hours, and features a removable strainer for coffee and tea. It’s even great for soup! But that’s not all—this multi-use bottle also keeps cold drinks cold for up to 36 hours, and the wide mouth easily accommodates ice cubes. The attachable cap makes it easy to prevent lost lids.
  • Kick Off the New Year With a Cleanse!

    featIMGWhy should I consider a cleanse?
    Cleansing can help reduce cravings for unhealthy food and set you up for good eating habits in the new year. Cleansing can also help reduce inflammation, enhance immune function, improve energy and boost overall health. So get the year started off right by breaking those bad eating habits. Who knows—you may even shed a few pounds in the process!

    How do I start?
    First off, eliminate three important toxic offenders: sugar, processed foods and alcohol. A diet heavy in these three can lead to diabetes, weight gain and cardiovascular disease, and can be a toxic burden on your liver. Getting rid of them allows your liver to focus on clearing out old toxins rather than processing current ones.

    Next, add these cleansing foods to your shopping list: Brazil nuts, blueberries, broccoli, parsley, cilantro, onions, sesame seeds, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, beets, basil, fennel, avocados, cucumber, hemp, green tea, kale, lemons, olive oil, dandelion leaves, flaxseeds, cabbage, apple, almonds, seaweed, asparagus, artichoke and turmeric.

    Finally, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. Many metabolic waste processes need water to function, and water is critical to flush out toxins. In other words? Make water your go-to drink. You can also sip on your favorite herbal tea, or try one that’s meant for cleanses such as Gaia Herbs’ Cleanse and Detox Tea that nourishes the liver and digestive system—and tastes good, too!

    What can I do to support my body’s efforts?
    Pharmaca offers a variety of supplements that can help support your cleanse.

    Thorne Research’s Basic Detox Nutrients is a complete multivitamin with daily detoxifying extras such as green tea, milk thistle, curcumin, broccoli and dandelion.

    Vital Nutrients’ Detox Formula is a unique blend of amino acids and herbs that’ support detoxification, liver and immune function.

    Natural Factors’ Detoxitech Detoxification and Cellular Cleansing features a blend of antioxidants and phytochemicals that support natural detoxification processes and assist in elimination of environmental chemicals and heavy metals.

    Pharmaca’s Liver Cleanse Booster includes herbs that support liver function and cleansing.

    Herb Pharm’s Herbal Detox Compound is a simple but potent herbal detox tincture that’s easy to take even on the go.

    Gaia Herbs’ Liver Cleanse is a proprietary herbal blend to help support and nourish the liver and promote bile production.

  • Treating Illness During Pregnancy

    Mother with babyPregnancy represents a very unique time in a woman’s life—it’s a time to focus on our physical and emotional wellbeing to ensure the life within is nourished and healthy. But it can also present particular pregnancy-related challenges to the mother. In addition to morning sickness or constipation, pregnant women are also vulnerable to the same common conditions that can happen at any time, such as seasonal allergies, colds and coughs, headaches, insomnia, etc.

    But reaching for the same medications that you’d traditionally use isn’t always safe. Pregnancy is the most sensitive time in human development and since certain substances cross the placenta (and into breastmilk while nursing), women must be careful when it comes to their use of medications and natural remedies.

    Since pregnant women often ask what options are available to them during this time, I thought I'd share a few herbs that I have recommended over the years. As always, if you are pregnant, please speak with your physician, midwife or a qualified health care professional about possible risks and benefits before using any herb, dietary supplement, over-the-counter or prescription medications.

    Colds and Flu

    Prevention is key! Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and take your prenatal vitamin every day, which should provide adequate amounts of zinc and vitamin C to keep your immune system working tip top. Adding more garlic and onions to your soups can also give you an extra edge.

    At the first sign of an upper respiratory infection (URI), make yourself a cup of hot organic ginger tea and add a little honey and lemon. Sip slowly. Drink 1-2 cups per day. Ginger has antiviral activity and is great for relieving sore throat, stuffy nose and congestion.

    In addition, try sucking on one lozenge containing 5 mg of zinc every 3-4 hours for 1-2 days, since studies have shown that zinc can shorten the duration and severity of the common cold.

    Echinacea is also commonly used for URIs, and some studies support its effectiveness if taken early. A thorough scientific review failed to find any adverse events in mothers or babies for women who took echinacea during pregnancy. Just make sure you skip the tinctures containing alcohol and look for a high-quality extract in a capsule, tablet or softgel (and follow the dosing recommendations of the manufacturer).

    Allergic Rhinitis

    Whether from pollen or your favorite cat, allergies can definitely wear you down. Your body perceives relatively harmless substances as dangerous and reacts accordingly. Immune cells mount an attack and chemicals like histamine are released causing you to sneeze, your nose to run and your eyes to water.

    Short of moving to another state or giving away your feline friend, do your best to limit exposures. Using a wet mop on floors and a vacuum with a HEPA filter can be helpful indoors. In addition, invest in a neti pot and use a buffered saline solution every day for one week, and then twice weekly to keep your nasal passages open.

    Researchers have found that compounds within nettle leaves inhibit the release of histamine, which causes nasal swelling and itching. A randomized trial of nearly 100 people found that taking 600 mg a day of freeze-dried nettle was more effective than placebo for relieving the majority of allergy symptoms. Forty-eight percent of the participants stated that nettles equaled or surpassed previous medications that they had taken for seasonal allergies in terms of effectiveness. The good news is that nettle is considered to be safe during pregnancy! It’s important to note, however, that nettle leaf is often combined with quercetin, which has unknown safety at higher doses during pregnancy; stick with 400-600 mg of freeze-dried nettle leaves, 1-2 times per day.

    Constipation

    As pregnancy advances, constipation can become a problem due to hormones and the increasing size of the baby. To ease constipation, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day—adequate liquid intake is one of the best ways to keep your bowels moving regularly! Add some cucumber or berries to your water for interest and flavor.

    Magnesium is a natural laxative and is safe to use during a healthy pregnancy at doses of 300-400 mg at night before bed. Magnesium not only softens stools, but is also highly recommended for the prevention of migraines.

    If you need a little extra relief, try making this prune/bran preparation: Combine 1 cup prune juice, 1 cup bran and 1 cup applesauce, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Take 2 tbsp morning and night with a large glass of water.

    Insomnia and Irritability

    Chamomile is definitely one of my favorite herbs when one is feeling cranky, irritable and out of sorts. It is especially good for those who manifest stress in their digestive system. Chamomile can be safely taken during pregnancy and makes a lovely afternoon or evening medicinal tea.

    For those nights when it’s just really hard to fall asleep, valerian might be a good option. Valerian has been used as a mild sleep aid for centuries and it is not contraindicated during pregnancy by either the German Commission E or the Botanical Safety Handbook 2nd Edition. While available in capsules, there are some very nice high-grade medicinal tea blends that contain tasty combinations of chamomile and valerian. Snuggle up with a good book, warm blanket and sip slowly as you surrender to a great night’s sleep.

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