Monday, December 28, 2009

Where we're giving this morning. Tell Apotheca and win a beautiful organic lavender eye pillow (shipped anywhere in the US):

Where are you giving?

Khaled in Lebanon (Activity: Retail) You Loaned:$100.00 View loan
profile at:
Efua in Ghana (Activity: Cereals) You Loaned:$100.00 View loan profile
Jorge Luis Sáenz Medrano in Nicaragua (Activity: Personal Housing
Expenses) You Loaned:$100.00 View loan profile at:
Zee in Ghana (Activity: Used Clothing) You Loaned:$100.00 View loan
profile at:
Walter Enrique Rodas Galo in Nicaragua (Activity: Personal Housing
Expenses) You Loaned:$100.00 View loan profile at:
Christiana in Ghana (Activity: Food Production/Sales) You Loaned:$100.00
View loan profile at:
Crecer Con Libertad Group in Chile (Activity: Retail) You Loaned:$200.00
View loan profile at:


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Deep Scalp Clean with Ingredients You Already Have

For a lot of people, a San Francisco winter's wild weather changes (the heater, the wind, the sun, the heater- it's like temperature schizophrenia out there) can result in dull, frizzy hair and a flaky scalp. Try this rejuvenating scalp treatment once a week to deep clean the skin on your head and leave your hair shiny and free of product residue.

This weekend I gave myself a scalp "facial" using this scrub and the Neem-based scalp treatment with essential oils that we use in Apotheca's Indian Head Massage treatments. My scalp feels so clean and my tired, dry locks look and feel so much better!

Deep-cleaning Scalp Scrub

Use enough baking soda and apple cider vinegar to make a thick paste

Add honey and cool water to make a consistency that is still a paste, but slippery enough to cover the scalp

Wet your hair and use the pads of your fingertips to work this mixture into your scalp.

Rinse, towel-dry, and just try to keep from running your fingers through your hair.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Wellness, the Swine Flu and You by Miles Peterken, LAc

The flu season here in the northern hemisphere has made for a lot of surprising headlines in the news this autumn...reports have come of H1N1 vaccine manufacturers being given contractual immunity from liability, shortages of the H1N1 vaccine, statistical reports from Canada suggesting that people given previous flu vaccines are more susceptible to H1N1, and Andrew Weil being taken to task by the FDA for promoting an alternative medicine (an herb used in Chinese medicine, astragalus) to boost the immune system to prevent H1N1 occurrences.

But to a more important discussion: what can you be doing to prevent common colds and, yes, the H1N1 too, this year? As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I have a preference for many of the traditional Chinese herb formulas that treat common colds and quickly eliminate them. I'd like to share with you the basic premise behind what each of these formulas do for an early stage common cold--the chills, the feverishness, the body aches, the sniffles, the sore throat, the headache etc.

Sweat. That's it. Well, there's slightly more to it...this is different from going to the gym and simply breaking a sweat.

It's all about cooking herbs in water (like a tea) and drinking. And then getting into a pair of comfy sweatpants, maybe a robe on top, and staying wrapped up. It's about promoting a sweat to knock out the cold. One will usually feel an immediate lessening of the body aches and chills, and the head will clear.

And this is nothing new. It's been done by many cultures over countless years. But it has been largely forgotten. Is it comfortable? While no one loves sweating in clothes when not being active, it's really not that bad if one sits still. Consider watching a TV or a movie while wrapped up. The sweating does not need to be prolonged--I often find 30 minutes can do the trick. But I promise you it is much better than being sick for days followed by that residual wet cough and fatigue for weeks!

There is some anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the Chinese herb formulas in the face of pandemics. In the flu pandemic of 1918, many in Oregon relied on the herbal formulas of Ing "Doc" Hay, a Chinese doctor in John Day, Oregon. He was trusted more than western doctors by the men and women of that area, largely because he had already successfully treated the diseases that were fatal at the time (such as snakebites and infections from barbwire cuts). In the subsequent years 1919 and 1920, Ing Hay never lost a patient to the flu, including many construction workers building a highway through a bitterly cold winter. He brought vats of the bitter tasting brew to the workers.

When it comes to saving you from the prolonged process of feeling miserable from a cold, timing is important. There are a few things I would recommend to always keep on hand in your home, to take as soon as you suspect a cold coming on:

Fresh ginger: about four or five slices (the thickness of a quarter) in a hot tea can often be enough to create sweating about half an hour later. I often add more hot water as I drink (it's a good idea to replenish liquids when sweating). Another great thing to do with ginger is to put a handful into a hot bath, then get wrapped up after as I have mentioned. This will also create a very therapeutic sweat to expel the cold.

If you feel more heat in your body (flushing of the face, a particularly sore throat, but still some body chills and desire to keep covered), add a mint tea to the fresh ginger.

The next item I would highly recommend is the Gypsy Cold Care tea from Traditional Medicines. This is available widely in grocery stores. It has a combination of many of the herbs we use in traditional Chinese medicine, and I find I can often fight off a cold at its first signs with several cups of this. This alone can create a very mild sweat and a warming sensation (throw in a little fresh ginger), but it's important to stay bundled up!

I have been fortunate to have had conversations with nurses, MD's, and acupuncturists from around the US, some who have been treating H1N1 cases, and others who are wishing to help in its prevention. I have followed with a keen interest the formulas currently being used in China both for prevention and treatment. As mentioned in a previous blog, vitamin D is very important. There has also been recent research indicating an increase in antioxidants is particularly effective in combating H1N1.

Chinese medicine has very specific protocols for boosting the immune system when not sick, and treating the sickness quickly when it presents. I encourage anyone in the bay area to use these helpful tips when beginning to feel sick, and to consider traditional Chinese medicine as a very viable way to increase health and prevent colds this season.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Scary Halloween Story with a Sweet Ending

Scary? Well, maybe not. But who likes to move house? Or offices, for that matter. But that was what we did for Halloween. And while we didn't dig up any ghosts of Halloweens past, there was a lot of heavy lifting to be done when we could have been eating Sugar Babies in a fabulous costume somewhere.

The good news is, we are up and running in our cute new digs on the 6th floor of the Hobart Building. Still at 582 Market Street, now in Suites 612 and 613. For now, skincare and acupuncture appointments will be in Suite 612 and massage sessions will be in Suite 613.

Our sweet little outpost in Hayes Valley is no more.

We're open for business beginning November 2 and we're planning our real Grand Opening for later in the Fall.

Stay tuned for more.

Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moving Sale- 20 - 50% off Tu'eL and PFB Products!

To celebrate the change of seasons and lighten our load as we move to Suite 612 of the Hobart Building, we're having a big sale on selected products.

Locally made, botanical cleansers, moisturizers, masks, treatment products and sunscreens will be 20-50% off from now through October 31.

Need something to make your skin happy? Send us a note and we'll help you select the right stuff for you-- cheap cheap cheap and shipped to your door! Free pick-up and free shipping on orders of $50+

Write for details and with requests.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Real Food Nutrition in the Bay Area

It is fantastic to see whole, organic, sustainable, REAL food experiencing such a renaissance in the Bay Area. Slow Food Nation was so fun and educational last summer. The Eat Real Festival was loads of fun this summer. We have so many amazing year-round local resources, my favorites being our gorgeous farmers markets (I like Alemeny best) and the truly wonderful Three Stone Hearth.

We have access to an abundance of great local food here in the Bay Area. There is also a wealth of education available. I want to share two resources with you.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a training with excellent local nutrition educator Julie Matthews of Healthful Living and Nourishing Our Children. Ms. Matthews' approach is built around traditional, unprocessed foods, because, as she writes on her web site, "organic whole foods, unprocessed dairy, traditional fermented foods, and other nutrient-dense foods are ideal ways to build nutrient reserves and support healing." Her areas of focus range from fertility and healthy children to autism, detoxification and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction and aggression. Her classes are fun and her manner is approachable and warm. I highly recommend taking a workshop with her, but if you can't do that you can catch up with her on her weekly radio show, "Reality Sandwich" that airs Thursdays @ Noon, on 89.5FM KPOO in San Francisco.

Next weekend is a fun and informative training with the good people over at Circle Community Acupuncture. They write, "Have you ever wondered how Chinese medicine views the Four Seasons? Have you ever wanted to learn how to use food as medicine? If so, join us at our upcoming workshop! The workshop will include some demonstration, recipes and a resource guide to take home, and (best of all) samples of nourishing foods to foster a healthy season. If you thought healthy food was boring and expensive, think again!The workshop will include some demonstration, recipes and a resource guide to take home, and (best of all) samples of nourishing foods to foster a healthy season. If you thought healthy food was boring and expensive, think again!"

The workshop is on Saturday, October 17 at 1:30pm. See their website for contact information.

Now that I'm writing I can't resist throwing in one more recommendation. I tell all my clients about Nina Planck's books, Real Food: What to Eat and Why; and for my pregnant skincare, massage, and doula clients, Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods. Ms. Planck's books are readable, sensible, and full of great information that will leave you feeling empowered and inspired about your food choices. Great reads- check them out.

Nutrition is so important for holistic health. What we eat truly affects how we feel and how we look. What are your secrets to incorporating real, whole foods into a busy and active life? What challenges do you face? Has anyone out there transitioned from a processed, industrial diet to a real, whole foods diet? How did it make you feel?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Simply Give Birth

Simply Give Birth is a new book of inspiring birth stories collected by the brilliant Heather Cushman-Dowdee of Hathor the Cowgoddess fame. It includes more than 30 birth stories collected to inspire strength and empowerment in birth, rather than inspiring the kind of dread that comes from watching those scary birth shows on The Discovery Channel.

From the book:

". . .for too long the other story, the drama, and pain and horrifyingly out-of -control helplessness, has been the predominant tale. It’s time for that story to go the way of dinosaurs. There’s a new way to tell our birth stories, a simple way, with humor and spirit and matter-of-fact exuberance, and that if we collect these types of stories and spread them out into the world, we’ll be spreading the idea that birth is a funny, crazy, everyday, yet still life-changing to our very core, experience. Because it is all that. And more."

Go here to buy the book!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stay Healthy Without Dangerous Vaccines

From Dr. Mercola's always-interesting site: how to protect yourself against swine flu and any flu by keeping the immune system strong.

How to Protect Yourself Without Dangerous Drugs and Vaccinations

For now, my point is that there are always going to be threats of flu pandemics, real or created, and there will always be potentially toxic vaccines that are peddled as the solution. But you can break free of that whole drug-solution trap by following some natural health principles.

I have not caught a flu in over two decades, and you can avoid it too, without getting vaccinated, by following these simple guidelines, which will keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.

This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are therapeutic at 50-70 and done by a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp.

For those of you in the US we hope to launch a vitamin D testing service through Lab Corp that allows you to have your vitamin D levels checked at your local blood drawing facility, and relatively inexpensively. We hope to offer this service by June 2009.

If you are coming down with flu like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell, believe the dose could even be as high as 1000 units per pound of body weight for three days.

However, most of Dr. Cannell's work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. However the best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml.

BUT to keep this in perspective the regular flu, not the swine flu, has killed 13,000 in the US since January. But there is strong support that these types of figures are grossly exaggerated to increase vaccine sales. However, the fact remains that the regular flu at this point in time is FAR more dangerous than the swine flu and were you worried about the regular flu before the media started talking this up?

  • Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.

  • Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.

  • Have Effective Tools to Address Stress . We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.

    If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. You can check out my free, 25-page EFT manual for some guidelines on how to perform EFT.

  • Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.

  • Take a good source of animal based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.

  • Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.

  • Eat Garlic Regularly. Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don't enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.

  • Avoid Hospitals and Vaccines In this particular case, I'd also recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to this new bug. Vaccines will not be available for six months at the minimum but when available they will be ineffective and can lead to crippling paralysis like Guillain-Barré Syndrome just as it did in the 70s.

Friday, October 2, 2009

October Specials at Apotheca

To celebrate our recent nod in Allure Magazine's October issue Best of the Best in San Francisco, we're offering complimentary upgrades on massage sessions of 70 minutes and longer! No limits- book as many October massages as you like and enjoy even bigger savings.

Massage upgrades are for sessions booked online and with Alicia, Eri, Kim and Kelly only. Use booking code OCTOCALM.

This month you can also get a complimentary brow or lip wax with any facial treatment you book with Alicia Claire. Use our online scheduler and promo: WAX1

Book online here. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Best of the Best"

We're pretty pleased to announce that Apotheca was named Best Body Therapy in Allure Magazine's Best of the Best directory for the second year in a row.

We are flattered! Read all about it here.

The Buzz on Busy-ness and Wax

We're busy working hard to get our new space up and running and preparing for some grand opening surprises and new services. Expect an update soon.

Meanwhile, you don't need to rock the Frida brow 'do unless you want to. This October, we're offering a complimentary brow or lip wax when you book a facial treatment with Alicia Claire. Make your appointment here and use promo code "wax." Be sure to specify which free service you prefer.

Buzz, buzz, buzz,

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

According to the Environmental Working Group, you can reduce your exposure to nearly 90% of pesticides in food by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

The top three worst offenders?

Bell peppers

And the three cleanest conventional products are:

Sweet corn

Download your own full guide here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Apotheca Outpost in Hayes Valley Open in May

(image from

And we're officially open for business back in the old neighborhood!

I'm so excited to be moving back to Hayes Valley. I worked there so happily for a number of years. I'm happy to find out what's new and what's the same, and to become reacquainted with Octavia Green, the amazing coffee at Blue Bottle, and those tasty, tasty frjtz at Frjtz.

To make an appointment, go here and be sure to choose Hayes Valley when the option comes up. I look forward to seeing you in our cozy new digs!

All the best,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Easy and Fun- "The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Health"

According to the TV doctors over at, the "single best thing you can do for your health" is a daily 30-minute walk. We'd add that what's good for health is also good for beauty.

The docs write about walking that,

More is better. What’s true for love and vacation (unfortunately not for chocolate or pinot noir) is also true for walking. Get as much as you can.

You can read the rest of the article here.

And while you're at it, it's not too late to sign up for the San Francisco AIDS Walk. Apotheca has donated two gift certificates (one for massage and one for a facial) for the event organizers to give to two of its top participants.

Feel good and do good? Sounds beautiful to us.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Support New Traditions and Win a Facial at Apotheca

We're supporting New Traditions, a wonderful public (!) creative arts elementary school in the Western Addition. They are having their annual online auction of some really great stuff, and we've donated a Signature Facial Treatment.

To bid on our facial at (opening bid is 50% off!) or any of the dozens of other really fantastic items up for auction (an 11-class pass to Yoga Tree and a Bay Area tour in a 4-seater airplane are standouts) visit the auction web site HERE.

Happy bidding!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Study Says Topical Ellagic Acid Saves Skin


Using a topical application of the antioxidant ellagic acid, researchers at Hallym University in the Republic of Korea markedly prevented collagen destruction and inflammatory response – major causes of wrinkles -- in both human skin cells and the sensitive skin of hairless mice following continuing exposure to UV-B, the sun's skin-damaging ultraviolet radioactive rays.

The study only talks about topical application, though we know that what we eat has a profound effect on the health and beauty of the skin. Food sources of ellagic acid include raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, walnuts, pecans, and pomegranates. With summer around the corner and a bounty of fresh fruits coming into the farmer's markets, now is a great time to discover what ellagic acid foods can do to improve your skin.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January Philanthropy: Where We're Giving

Following are a few of the organizations we have been supporting lately. Where do you like to give? Who do you support with time, money, or in some other way? Post your reply in the comments section and be entered in a drawing for the fabulous Slow Food Guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Post your comment by 5pm on Friday, January 16th. A winner will be chosen at random and the book mailed out to our lucky reader this weekend.

San Francisco Food Bank

San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition

Monday, January 12, 2009

Home Wellness Treatment: Divine Cocoa-Espresso Body Scrub

Rich organic oils soften while the chocolate's high antioxidant content nourishes tired, rough skin. Espresso temporarily lessens the look and feel of cellulite. And the scent? Pure heaven.


Feel free to play around with ratios. If you like a scubbier scrub, decrease your liquids and add more espresso. If you prefer something less invigorating, add less espresso and more oil. Additional macadamia nut oil is excellent for aging skin in need of rejuvenating. Less scrub and additional half and half is great for sensitive skin, or substitute with heavy cream.

1/2 cup coconut butter
1/8 cup half and half
1/8 cup coarsely-ground espresso
2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
10 drops sweet orange oil

Obtain all organic ingredients whenever possible. Coconut butter will be solid at room temperature, so begin by melting this, still in the bottle or jar, in a container of hot water. When softened, mix all ingredients and use right away. Cap leftovers tightly and refrigerate, using the remainder within four days.

This treatment is for the body only; do not use on the face. Use before showering, and in lieu of your body brush if you use one. A weekly scrub is excellent during winter months, and this scrub is particularly suitable before shaving or applying self-tanner.