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Living (and sleeping) La Vida Local

Bedtime Network's co-founder Cindy Bressler recently checked out Boulder, Colorado's Pharmaca store only to discover a mogul's worth of remedies, all of them natural!  Folks, there's a lot more than melatonin out there!  Even we were surprised at the possibilities.

I love to travel and when traveling, I love to do as the locals do.  So when I’m in Boulder, Colorado one of my first stops is Pharmaca, an integrative pharmacy that offers traditional pharmacy services alongside holistic remedies.


Pharmaca was founded in 2000.  Its goal is to introduce people to alternative treatments and preventive medicine.  Its first store opened in Boulder. Today Pharmaca has stores throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.  I’m hoping they’ll open one on the east coast soon!


Pharmaca’s Boulder store exudes what I call the best of the “Boulder vibe.”  From the moment you walk through the door you feel relaxed.  A variety of certified specialists (ranging from pharmacists, herbalists, homeopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists and more) are available to guide and answer your questions.


During my recent visit, I headed straight to the section dedicated to sleep aids and chatted with Pharmaca’s herbalists.  Needless to say, I had a very long list of questions.  The herbalists were welcoming, informative and patient. (Just another example of the Boulder vibe.) I could have chatted with them for hours but was conscious of the other customers seeking their guidance. 


This photo displays some of the sleep aids Pharmaca carries.  Here’s the low-down on a few popular aids:


L-Theanine:  It’s an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea.  It produces alpha waves in the brain and has a calming effect.  It's a great sleep agent and enhances mental clarity. It’s chewable and can help children and adults wind down at bedtime. 


Sleep Tonight:  This supplement is helpful for people who have trouble staying asleep.  It contains l-theanine and lowers cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a stress hormone.  If cortisol levels rise in the middle of the night, a person can awake and have difficulty falling back to sleep.


Pharmaca Sleep Formula: This product contains a combination of natural compounds, including melatonin, l-theanine and 5HTP, that support relaxation and enhance sleep quality.  (5HTP is a calming amino acid.)  It’s chewable and can be at bedtime and/or if you awake in the middle of the night.


Relaxing Sleep Tonic by Herb Pharm:  These liquid drops contain a combination of five herbs used in Europe to combat insomnia, stress and anxiety.  The herbs are hand-harvested at their optimal potency.


Pharmaca’s herbalists and I also chatted about the calming effects of a cup of chamomile tea and lavender oil.  Steep three tea bags (the number of tea bags is the key to obtaining the maximum relaxing benefits!) in a cup of hot water for fifteen minutes and drink shortly before bedtime.  Rubbing lavender oil on your body at bedtime moisturizes the skin and helps calm the mind.  Drinking chamomile tea and using lavender oil can be done independently or in combination.


This post just touches on some of the sleep remedies out there.  If you live on the west coast and are interested in learning more about different sleep aids, I encourage you to visit a Pharmaca store.  If you’re not able to visit a Pharmaca shop and don’t have a similar holistic pharmacy, call one of Pharmaca’s stores and ask to speak with a practitioner.  During my visit, the herbalists happily fielded phone calls. 


Important Note:  Throughout my conversations with Phamaca’s practitioners they frequently emphasized the importance of checking with a physician before taking any supplements to ensure that they don’t conflict with any medications you’re taking.