Sick? Try An Herbal Apothecary

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There are at least five juice bars within a two-block radius of my apartment—more than double the number of actual bars. To sip something green is no longer a health-freak hippie move. And with juice cleansing, along with holistic treatments like acupuncture, meditation, and aromatherapy becoming common—nay, aspirational—practice, it was really only a matter of time before a new wellness trend emerged. At this time, I'd like to introduce you to the next one: The herbal apothecary.

Admittedly not exactly a new concept, herbal medicine has origins in every culture from Chinese to Native American and has been around for pretty much as long as humans have walked the planet. Until now, it has not exactly been the kind of thing you pop into the corner drugstore to casually pick up . Now wellness experts around the world are trying to change that. Sure, they seem niche now, but just wait a year and they'll be popping up like Starbucks franchises everywhere you turn. Here are two versions to get you started:

Moon Juice

Moon Juice, which now has three brick-and-mortar locations in California, was founded by Amanda Chantal Bacon in the early days of juicing with hopes of making good ingredients more ubiquitous. Now, her company has branched out to become a one-stop wellness shop with a selection of pantry staples and beauty products. The latest addition to the lineup includes moon dusts and tonics, sold in their apothecary section.

“Once I comfortably situated myself into a daily practice of alkalizing raw juices and foods, these potions and herbs became the next frontier,” Bacon said. (Yes, she knows her name is amazingly ironic.) The tonics and dusts are based in Chinese herbal traditions, use super-potent herbs, and are medicinal-grade mixtures that give quick results. Tonics are liquid versions available only for local delivery, while dusts can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.

From brain power to sex drive, the 12 dusts and tonics in the collection offer some kind of boost for pretty much everyone. I opted to test-drive the Beauty Dust (made with pearl, goji, and schizandra) and the Heart Dust (with longan, reishi mushrooms and salvia). Both were kind of brownish in color when I opened them and tasted mildly sweet when I mixed them into a glass of water—they are naturally sweetened with stevia and luo han guo fruit. The Beauty Dust nourishes with antioxidants, enzymes, and a full profile of amino acids to support glowing skin, strong nails, and shiny hair. The Heart Dust dilates capillaries, allowing the heart “to accept and release,” according to the product page. Bacon says she takes both daily—the heart tonic in the morning “as a tool to get through the day while I’m driving 90mph, late for a meeting, and on four phone calls feeling overwhelmed,” and the beauty tonic as a nightcap.

After a week of taking both dusts myself, the jury is still out on whether either has made a significant difference. However, my skin has been pretty glowy and clear despite the sub-zero NYC temperatures. When I pressed my boyfriend with the question, “Do I seem more beautiful and loving?” He said “sure,” and shrugged.

Botica & Co.

Back on the East Coast, Botica & Co. founder Adriana Ayales opened her apothecary and juice bar less than a year ago in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Costa Rica native grew up around nature and learned her trade from her shaman grandmother. Now, she offers her natural wisdom to customers who come in for her healing tonics.

“Some people distrust herbs because they don’t believe that solving their problems could really be so simple,” she says. “But it is.” Customers who come into her shop can describe their complaints—anything from insomnia to indigestion—and she will prescribe a unique blend of the 12 tonics she keeps on tap. She mixes them into the fresh-pressed juices, also on tap. “The whole vision is that you get your prescription in a juice-bar style, instead of a traditional pharmacy,” Ayales says.

When I walked in to Botica & Co. on a cold winter afternoon, I immediately confessed to Ayales that I was suffering from a minor hangover. “I just feel gross,” I complained. She put her baristas to work mixing up a blend of Joy Tonic (made with hibiscus, gogi berries, schisandra…and a lot of other herbs I couldn’t pronounce) and Viridem (a green tonic made with soursop, turmeric, chlorella algea, and more) that is meant to be a powerful liver cleanser. With a few drops of each in a tasty green juice, I entirely forgot I was taking medicine. The result? I felt better, more hydrated, energized, and alert almost immediately. The Joy Tonic also gave me a very mild buzz and apparently doubles as an aphrodisiac. More of that please.

I took home a Lucid Dreaming formula and a turmeric elixir called Curam, perfect for fending off flu season. I have yet to try Lucid Dreaming, but Ayales told me to take it on a night when I feel calm and free from stress…I may never get to test it. The turmeric tonic, on the other hand, has kept me feeling healthy and flu-free. I already ordered more.

Both Bacon and Ayales will attest: the apothecary trend is catching on and fast. “I wasn’t sure people were going to get it, but when they try the elixirs, they just don’t stop coming back,” Ayales said. She and Bacon are also adamant that this isn’t about a three-day-long cleanse or a quick fix—it’s a lifestyle change. The goal, for them, is to make these ingredients as easy to have on hand as a bottle of Advil. So maybe next time you’re feeling under the weather, try a trip to your local apothecary. It’s the way of the future—and coincidentally, also the past.

—Victoria Lewis

Photographed by Tom Newton.