Skin Care

Collagen Peptides: Beneficial for Skin, Bones, Joints, and More

I wanted to write about collagen this month, since it can have so many diverse and wide ranging benefits. Collagen is a protein that is very prevalent in our bodies- 30% of the protein in our body is made of  collagen and it is the main component of our connective tissues. Collagen is a crucial component of our skin, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments.

We are born with abundant stores of collagen, and the human body produces copious amounts of collagen when we are young. Unfortunately, that production begins to decline every year after age 25, and decreases even more dramatically in women after menopause.

The decreases in collagen happen throughout our bodies, reducing bone flexibility, making injury more likely, and contributing to joint and mobility problems. One easy way each of us can see how our body’s stores of collagen have decreased is by looking at our skin. As we age, the lovely, plump skin we all had as young adults changes considerably;  lower levels of collagen is one of the main causes of that, since collagen helps to prevent thinning and wrinkling of the skin as well as loss of elasticity. Those outward signs of collagen loss mirror what is unseen inside our bodies, affecting our bones, joints, tendons, as well as many other parts of the body.

Bone health is a particularly important benefit of collagen which most people are unaware of. Collagen literally holds our bones together in a collagen matrix, and helps our bones to remain flexible and durable. When one thinks of “brittle bones,” lack of collagen is a major factor contributing to that. Collagen helps to make the bones more stable and elastic.

Collagen supplements can be beneficial to help boost our body’s collagen stores, though not all collagen supplements are created equal. First of all, collagen is best taken as a powder. You need to take a fair amount of collagen to make a difference, and most collagen supplements in pill form are meant to be taken at around six at a time, which isn’t practical for most people. Another thing to look for is collagen in a peptide form, which basically means that the collagen is broken down into tiny molecules to enhance absorption (since if you’re not absorbing a supplement, it does nothing and you’re wasting your money).

Collagen peptides have been the study of numerous research studies in recent years. One placebo controlled study found that people using collagen peptides daily for three months had a 40% increase in skin elasticity, a 43% reduction in joint pain, and a 39% increase in mobility.

One very important thing to note about collagen is that there are many different forms, and each different form of collagen works in a different way in the body. For example, collagen known as “type I collagen” is helpful for skin, bones, and tendons, whereas “type II collagen” benefits joints, cartilage, and the digestive tract. Types I and II collagen are the most common, though there are actually many different forms of collagen that have varying benefits in body that affect the immune, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems, our hair and nails, even down to the health of our very cells!

A bad thing about most collagen supplements is that they usually only contain one variety of collagen, occasionally two, but rarely more than that, so you’re only getting a fraction of the benefits of the full spectrum of collagen. There is one collagen supplement that we recommend above all others- Collagen Peptide powder by Nature’s Plus. There are so many reasons we’d recommend that supplement in particular, the first of which is that it contains all six of the main collagen types, something I’d never seen in a supplement before this one. It’s also absorbed better than other collagen supplements because it is in the optimal peptide form as well as containing special enzymes that further aid in absorbing those beneficial collagen molecules.

I could go on and on about the reasons why this is the collagen I’d recommend above all others, but I thought it might be better to relay a few reports from my coworkers at Pass Health Foods who take this collagen from Nature’s Plus (I’m a vegetarian, so even though I believe in collagen supplements and the science behind them, I don’t personally take it since they’re from animal products). This particular collagen supplement is made from the highest quality collagen sources- grass-fed beef, cage-free chickens, and sustainably caught fish.

Liz, another one of the managers at the store, takes the Collagen Peptides every day in her coffee. It’s completely tasteless, so it can be mixed easily with foods or beverages. She feels like it has really helped with reducing joint pain and soreness after exercise. It’s the only thing she takes now for joints, and she says it really works. She and her daughter trained this summer for a one-mile swim to raise money for ALS, and she felt like the collagen supplement really helped with how her joints felt, particularly when compared with the joint pain she experienced before starting to use the supplement. Liz says she also likes the collagen peptides since they contain a good amount of natural protein. She feels like most protein supplements seem to bother her stomach, but she’s never had problems from the collagen. She says she also feels like there have been benefits for how her skin looks and feels.

Sarah, who also works at the store, has been using the same collagen peptide supplement and really loves it. She says she originally started taking it because she had a pulled muscle injury that wasn’t healing. She said that she felt relief after the first week, after what was turning into a lingering, painful condition. Sarah contracted an illness after going on a rafting trip and stopped taking all her supplements for a while. She said that her joint and muscle pain started coming back again after not using the collagen supplements for a few weeks, but that after starting them again she felt like her pain was better after just a couple of days of taking it.

Finally, Sam, the son of one of our owners, who just graduated from college, has been taking collagen peptides as well with great results. He had an injury from high school which had healed but where he was still having lingering, persistent inflammation. He has had several rounds of physical therapy and was even recommended cortisone shots by his physician, which he wanted to avoid since he’s still in his early 20’s. Since taking the collagen peptides, he has had consistently less pain. He loves to dance and this past weekend went to a dance competition and clinic. He said that he couldn’t believe it, but that he felt stiffer from being in the car for the three-hour drive than from dancing all weekend long.

We have the Collagen Peptides by Nature’s Plus that we recommend on an everyday sale of 20% off, to pass on the savings of a supplement we really believe in. That brings the price of a jar down to $19.99 for a month’s worth of one serving a day. Stop by the store for more information, we’d love to help you further.


A "Miracle Cure" for Sunburn

Sunburns as an adult are so terrible since we’re not children, we should know better. Still, it happens. I wanted to share about what I now think of as a “miracle cure” for sunburn- I wanted to write about it last month but there just wasn’t room in last month’s newsletter.

In May, Liz and I from the store went to Revival’s Yoga Fest in Palos Heights (if you’re not familiar with them, they’re an amazing yoga studio in Palos Heights with fabulous people). It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We had a booth there outside to talk to the people there about supplements and whatever else. It wasn’t that hot and since it was still May, and Liz forgot to use any sunscreen- she was just there in the morning until just a bit after noon, so generally you wouldn’t think the sun would be that strong at that time anyway.

Well, when I saw her at work the next day, her arms were as red as a tomato and she was in so much pain (as anyone who has been badly sunburned will attest to). She took some of our Sovereign Silver First Aid Gel (which has had research done on its benefit for healing burns) from the store as well as Alba Botanicals After Sun Gel, a favorite of both of ours that mixes aloe with cooling plant extracts that are soothing and healing to the skin.

She alternated using both the First Aid Gel and the aloe gel several times throughout the day on her arms, which she felt were absolutely radiating heat. By the NEXT DAY she said her sunburn was so much better, and then when I saw her the day after that, her sunburn was completely gone, and even more amazingly, she had no peeling whatsoever from where her skin was damaged.

To be honest with you, if I had not seen what happened with her sunburn with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. It was literally like a miracle, particularly since I saw how red her arms were in the beginning.

So, first I would definitely recommend using sunscreen if you’re going to be outside, obviously. If the worst happens, and you do forget and find yourself sunburned, I would definitely recommend using this combination. I actually just picked up a bottle of the First Aid Gel by Sovereign Silver to have in the house just in case.

Aloe in general is of course wonderful, but the After Sun Gel by Alba is really worth having- I feel like it’s less sticky and gloppy than other aloe gels I’ve used. In addition to the aloe, their After Sun Gel also contains green tea extract which has been shown in studies to help repair sun damaged skin when used topically as well as probiotics, which have been shown in research to help to reduce skin sensitivity and redness from sun damage when used topically.



The Many Scientifically Researched Benefits of Black Seed Oil

I wanted to write about Black Seed Oil, also known as Black Cumin Seed Oil, since it has been gaining in popularity, though it seems to have a vagueness that surrounds it as to what it actually does.

Most articles on black seed oil seem to say that it’s “cures everything”, a claim that always makes me extremely skeptical since it brings to mind the unscrupulous snake oil salesmen of the last century.

The more I looked into black seed oil, however, I found that there has been study after study done on its benefits, with great results. Research has found it to have beneficial effects on so many different aspects of health, including metabolic syndrome (a condition characterized by excess weight and high blood sugar), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, respiratory health, skin conditions, and more. It’s impressive due to the sheer volume of studies that have been done that have shown benefit for so many vastly different things.

Here’s a link to a review on Black Seed Oil studies.

This is another review on the researched benefits of black cumin seeds.

One of my favorite benefits for black seed oil is its effect on the immune system. One of black seed oil’s natural compounds is thymoquinone, a potent immune booster that strengthens and activates the immune system’s T-cells (the white blood cells that help to identify harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses). Research has shown black seed to have antibacterial and antiviral effects against a number of infectious diseases including strep and h. pylori bacteria and viruses like hepatitis and even HIV. That isn’t to say that black seed oil is necessarily a cure-all for those conditions, but that it has been found to have beneficial antibacterial and antiviral effects against those diseases.

In addition to immune boosting effects, black seed oil has further benefits to the respiratory system itself, including being extremely helpful for asthma patients. In one study, people with asthma used black seed oil daily for three months and experienced impressive benefits in respiratory functioning and a reduction in asthma symptoms.

The interesting thing about black seed oil is that it does not just seem to have immune boosting effects, but rather has shown to have an immune modulating activity- boosting the immune system when needed, but also helping to calm down the excessive immune response seen in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. One placebo controlled study on rheumatoid arthritis found that women who took black seed twice daily for a month found a reduction in their symptoms of RA.

Black seed oil also appears to have protective effects for a number of the body’s different systems and organs, reducing destructive, toxic effects on the brain, liver, lungs cardiovascular system, and the digestive tract. This article has more in-depth information on the significant protection black seed has from toxic damage from a variety of sources (scroll down to about halfway through to read more about black seed oil’s beneficial protective effects).

Black seed oil can also have beneficial effects on eczema and psoriasis and for those conditions can be taken both internally and used topically for relief.

I feel like I’ve gone on and on already about the benefits of black seed oil, but in truth, there are so many more and I’ve only mentioned a few. Black seed oil has a long history of use for a variety of ailments. It is native to the Middle East and Africa, and has been mentioned in both the Old Testament and the Quran. The prophet Muhammad is even quoted as saying, “Use the Black Seed for indeed, it is a cure for all diseases except death.” Suffice it to say that it has a long history of impressive benefits and use- even back to the time of the Egyptians!

The black seed oil we recommend is by a company called Talya. As many of you know, we’re particular about the brands and products we carry. We chose this brand of black seed oil specifically since it has the highest amount of the beneficial active ingredients in black seed oil and is unrefined and cold pressed. Also, Talya does third party testing on each batch of black seed oil for potency and to make sure that it is free from pesticides, herbicides, as well as other chemicals and contaminants. Talya’s black seed oil meets France’s standards for “Eco Certification” and is in the process of undergoing organic certification processes by the USDA.

The recommended dosages for black seed oil is one teaspoon twice daily for preventative health or two teaspoons twice daily, up to as much as six teaspoons a day (in divided doses) for acute needs or for recovering from an illness.

Black seed oil should be taken with food to help absorption and it’s also important to shake the bottle vigorously before using it, since its beneficial compounds can separate when the bottle sits.

We will have a representative in the store on Saturday, March 9th from 10-2 to offer samples of our Talya black seed oil and to offer further information. Be sure to stop by!


Collagen for Bone Health and Increased Bone Flexibility

Collagen supplements are something that have been around for a long time. They’re well known supplements that have many great uses with benefits for skin, joints, digestive health, and even bone health (which I will write about more in depth in this article).

Collagen supplements are available in many forms including powders, chews, pills, and even in its natural form as bone broth- here’s an article from our website on bone broth and its benefits:

Bone Broth is Amazing for Joints, Digestive Issues, and More

Other than bone broth and bone broth concentrates and powders, the reason why collagen supplements are generally taken in powders or chews is that you need to take a fair amount of it to make a real difference, and if taken as a pill or softgel, generally you would need to take a good handful to  get the recommended amount (which is doable, but sometimes powders can be easier).

We recommend bone broth especially when it comes to wanting to take a collagen supplement. There are two mail types of collagen (more on that below) and with supplements they will usually focus on one or the other. Both types have different benefits though most everyone would benefit from both, which is why bone broth is nice, since it contains a more complete collagen profile. We in particular recommend Jarrow’s Bone Broth Powder. It makes a delicious broth which can be very warming and comforting on a cold day (it’s available in both beef or chicken).

Another collagen powder supplement that we recommend is by NeoCell. It is a hydrolyzed collagen, which means the collagen has been broken up into smaller particles so it is easier for the body to absorb. The reason we most like NeoCell powders is that they are odorless and tasteless, so it can easily be added to foods or drinks without issue.

Collagen for Bone Health

Collagen is absolutely crucial for bone health. While our bones are made up of calcium crystals, they are held together in a bone collagen matrix. Collagen helps to make up our actual bone structure, and gives our bones flexibility and durability. When one thinks of “brittle bones” lack of collagen is a major factor contributing to that. Collagen helps to make the bones more stable and elastic.

Interestingly, in addition to helping with joint flexibility (which is part of the way our bodies avoid fractures) type 1 collagen can actually help to stimulate osteoblast formation, cells that help to regulate passage of calcium into the bones. Type 1 collagen can also help to reduce the formation of cells that break down the bone matrix.

Type 1 collagen is found in both skin and bones. While we can’t see our bones without a bone scan, we can see our skin. It’s easy to see the effects of collagen loss in our skin- as we age our skin becomes thinner with reduced elasticity and even becomes more fragile. Those can be outward signs of collagen loss, which affects our bones in similar ways that we cannot see, with our bones becoming more brittle and less flexible.

There are different types of collagen (there are more than two types, though I am only focusing on the first two since they have the most benefit). Type 1 collagen is the kind most found in skin, tendons, and bones; while type 2 collagen is more present in bone cartilage and being beneficial to digestive health. Bone broth contains both kinds, being  a whole food product, and we like going that route since the two types of collagen have different but wonderful benefits). We have a great bone broth powder concentrate by Jarrow available at the store, which is much more economical than buying liquid bone broth. We also have supplements of powders or chews which focus more on specific types of collagen with more specific benefits. Stop by the store so we can help you find the collagen products which are best for your specific needs.

Hyaluronic Acid for Joint Pain and Skin Hydration

Hyaluronic acid is an amazing, but little-known supplement that is fantastic for both joint pain and aging skin. Hyaluronic acid is found throughout the body; its main function is to lubricate joints and muscles, but also helps to lubricate the skin as well. Many people begin taking hyaluronic acid for joint pain and find they have the happy “side effect” of a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles on the face.

Hyaluronic acid is helpful for arthritis because it helps to plump up cartilage, giving it extra cushioning and shock absorption. Because it helps to bind water to joint tissues, it can help with reducing joint friction and pain.

Hyaluronic acid is thought of as “nature’s moisturizer” since it works to plump up and lubricate the skin. Hyaluronic acid is effective when taken in pill form for both joint and skin health, but can also be applied topically since it penetrates the outer layers of skin easily, hydrating and restoring the dermal layers.

The amounts of hyaluronic acid the body produces is drastically reduced as we age, so supplementing can definitely help with “turning back the clock” for both joints and skin.

For the month of September, all of our Jarrow Hyaluronic Acid will be on sale for 25% off.

A Pass Favorite: Aloe Soothing Gel by NOW Foods

We just got in a new after sun aloe gel by NOW Foods that I am in love with. Recommendation the first: don’t get sunburned. If you’re like me, however, and may have waited too long before reapplying your sunscreen when you were at the pool, this stuff is the best. It combines pure aloe gel, which everyone knows is great for sunburns, with a bit of cooling peppermint oil which soothes on contact, along with several healing and skin calming ingredients like cucumber, vitamin E, and B vitamins.

Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every two hours (more frequently if you’re in the water). Sunburn prevention is best, but still, I am going to be bringing an extra bottle of this when I go on vacation next month!




Supplement Spotlight: Manuka Honey for Skin, Digestive Issues, and More

This month’s supplement spotlight is on manuka honey, a very potent type of medicinal honey. Manuka honey has been gaining popularity, even among mainstream physicians, due to its antibacterial and healing properties.

Manuka honey is the only 100% natural food shown to have antibacterial effects, due to a compound known as methylglyoxal that forms naturally in manuka honey. Other honeys can occasionally have levels of that antibacterial compound, but only in small amounts. According to scientific research, the amount of antibacterial methylglyoxal must be at a minimum of 100mg/kg to reliably inhibit harmful bacteria. Manuka honey can have as much as eight times that amount.

Because of its strong antibacterial and healing qualities, manuka honey is fantastic for topical use- for wounds and burns, as well as an assortment of skin issues- from acne to eczema and more. To use in a skin care regimen, one can apply manuka honey to the affected areas for twenty minutes before washing with gentle soap and water. Manuka honey has even been shown to be beneficial in fighting staph infections.

Manuka honey can also be used internally for a wide variety of ailments. It can help to balance bacteria in the gastrointestinal system, reduce plaque in the mouth as well as soothing oral sores and ulcers. Manuka honey is also good for the immune system and is fantastic for sore throats.

Another interesting use of manuka honey is for gastritis and GERD. A few teaspoons a day can be very healing to the digestive tract. I have several customers who have used it for digestive issues at the store with impressive results. It even has been shown to help with healing stomach ulcers by killing H. pylori bacteria. 

Manuka honey is unique from other types of honey in that it is only made in New Zealand, from the manuka plant that flowers for only two to four weeks each year. Two thousand honeybees make 10 million trips to make just one jar. The nice thing about manuka honey is that it is only beneficial, there are no negative side effects or interactions with medications when using it. 

It’s important to note it’s important to look for quality brands of manuka honey. There are numerous places and websites selling “fake manuka honey”. Manuka honey is only sourced from New Zealand and should be rated with a “UMF Factor”, a rating on the potency of the healing properties of the honey- the higher the UMF number, the more potent the honey is.

A Pass Favorite: Andalou Naturals Skincare Lines

We have a new line of facial products that I wanted to feature by Andalou Naturals.  What makes these different is that they are research-based products that use potent antioxidants and fruit stem cells to aid in cellular repair as well as significantly improving skin appearance and texture.

While many people will use different skin products from different companies, I wanted to mention the benefits of using a complete line targeted to your skin type.  The Andalou Naturals Skincare Lines I’ll mention below have each been in independently tested in a clinical testing which found over an 80% improvement in skin after using each of the skincare lines for 6 weeks.  Each of the Andalou Naturals products are made to improve and complement each other, so using them in a layered fashion can make an impressive difference in your skin, since their products enhance the effectiveness of each other.

There are four different complete color coded lines that we have available:

PURPLE for Aging and Dry Skin

The (Purple) Age Defying Line uses the antioxidant power of resveratrol and CoQ10 to increase cellular renewal and reduction in wrinkle depth. After 6 weeks, research found that participants experienced an 87% increase in skin elasticity.

ORANGE for Normal and Combination Skin

The (Orange) Brightening Line uses Vitamin C, Turmeric, and Sea Buckthorn to help to reduce hyper pigmentation from sun damage and acne scars and evens out skin tone. After 6 weeks, research found that participants experienced an 86% overall enhancement in skin tone and luminosity.

BLUE for Acne Prone and Oily Skin

The (Blue) Clarifying Line combined the calming and purifying ingredients of Willow Bark, Kombucha, and Cucumber to clear skin. After 6 weeks, research found that participants experienced an 83% overall improvement in their skin.

PINK for Sensitive and Reactive Skin

The (Pink) 1000 Roses Line is made specifically for people with extremely sensitive skin.  It’s formulated with rose stem cells and damask roses to soothe skin and increase skin’s resilience.  After 6 weeks, participants with easily irritated skin experienced zero irritation. 




Simplers Botanicals Argan Facial Treatment Oils

I wanted to highlight a new product line we’ve started carrying that I’ve been really impressed with.   They’re argan oil facial treatments mixed with essential oils by Simplers Botanicals.  If you haven’t heard of argan oil, it’s an amazing oil for skin that can actually improve skin’s appearance and texture.  Argan oil can have a normalizing effect on the skin by balancing sebum production, which has benefits for dryness as well as oily skin.  Argan oil can also help to prevent oxidative damage by combat environmental pollution and UV radiation.

We have three new blends:

Neroli and Vetiver Argan Facial Treatment
 his is the blend for oily, combination, or overactive skin.  It combines argan oil, which can help to improve the appearance of scars with grapefruit to help detoxify and decongest skin as well as vetiver essential oil, which further helps to balance overactive oil production.  

Rose and Helichrysum Argan Facial Treatment 
This is the blend for mature or sun damaged skin.  It combines argan oil with evening primrose oil and tamanu oil to promote elasticity, and then essential oils of rose, lavender, rosemary, and helichrysum to improve the appearance of scars and imperfections and carrot seed to even out skin tone.

Sandalwood and Chamomile Argan Facial Treatment 
This is the blend for dry, sensitive, or hyperreactive skin.  It combines argan oil with Australian sandalwood and Moroccan blue chamomile essential oils to help calm hyperreactive and sensitive skin and blue cypress and palmarosa to aid in hydration and rejuvenation of skin.  This blend can also be helpful for people with rosacea since it is so calming to the skin.

Each of these blends are meticulously crafted with ingredients to make a real difference for a variety of skin types.  Some people, particularly those with oily skin, are afraid to put oils on their face, but oils can actually reduce the skin’s proclivity to produce excess oil.  For those with dry skin, healing skin oils are extremely nourishing.  Skin treatment oils can be applied after washing the face as a natural moisturizer, or if you use other skin products and lotions, they can be applied in the following order: serums > lotions/creams > facial oils.  Applying a facial oil after a lotion can actually help to seal in that moisturizer, resulting in extremely soft and supple skin.