Author Archives: Purica

Enjoying the Journey of Marathon Running

…the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon pushed my physical and mental limits

BY ADAM O’MEARA

Running a marathon isn’t easy. Whether you’re the winner of the race or coming across the finish line in five hours, it will push your physical and mental limits.

And those physical and mental limits is what the sport of running is all about for me. Running keeps me goal-oriented and focused, both on enjoying the journey towards achieving my race goals and demonstrating my ability to focus mentally on daily tasks.

That emphasis on focus is particularly important for me. Without exercise I can begin to exhibit symptoms of the broadly used term of ADHD, which I was diagnosed with in grade 12 of high school. I personally consider this “condition” a blessing as I attribute my energy, zest for life, and never-ending curiosity (attributes of many who are placed into this personality classification) to it.

I work in the natural health and supplement industry and know for certain that physical activity is shown and proven to be a necessity if you wish to live a healthy, happy and long life. Albeit training for marathons puts highly unnatural amounts of stress on the body.  As a response to this big stressor, I am very careful with what foods I put in my body and I rely on high quality natural supplements to help mitigate cellular damage and keep my immune system strong (I am proud to serve as an Ambassador of PURICA and represent the wellness company on Vancouver Island).

On the day of the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon – October 7th – it was cold and rainy in Victoria. Yet as the nearly 8,000 participants lined up to partake in either the 8k, ½ marathon or full marathon events, I did not sense any disappointment or resentment to Mother Nature. The energy at any sporting event is undeniable and it feels good, really good, to be part of it.

I looked to my left and to my right and saw people of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes who were out there for their own reasons. But once that air-horn sounded and we all began our race we each shared one goal – get to the finish line as fast as possible… And then to the pancake breakfasts, Thanksgiving dinners and (for me) a couple cold, locally brewed beers.

Training had gone well leading up to this event.  Back in April I had employed the services of a Canadian running legend and coach, the one and onlyJim Finlayson. With his direction I was able to maximize the available training time and get my body into good enough shape to have a shot at my lofty goal of 2:35:00 for the full marathon.  I had a previous PB (Personal Best) of 2:44:00 for the open marathon and a couple sub-3 hour marathons in the 16 Ironman triathlons I had completed.

With all my running and endurance sport experience, doing an open marathon didn’t seem that intimidating until about 48 hours before the race. At that time all the usual pre-race nerves, excitement, anxiety and rivers of emotions started flowing through my veins, and into my soul.  It is impossible to explain the pre-race feelings you get when you have prepared to your best potential, but it is safe to say that it is a magical feeling that never gets old.

Getting your running mileage up to certain thresholds is important, and I was able to log quite a few 100+ km weeks. This gave me confidence.  And I had nailed some key sessions in the 6 weeks before the event. Upon reflection before the race I found beautiful peace of mind in the fact that I had really done all I could in training, and armed with this confidence I was ready to race to my potential on the day.

About one mile into the race I settled into my own pace and allowed the eager group just ahead of me to drift away. Proper patience is critical to success in any distance but the longer the event gets the more important it becomes. The ultimate goal pace was 3:40/km and this is right where I sat through almost 30 kilometres. Fuelling the body properly with exogenous carbohydrates sources is also something that can’t be ignored at this distance. My fuelling was on track, and stayed on track for the entire event.

At about 19 km I had hooked up with two runners from Seattle and we worked well together for about 15 km. At that time I made a small miscalculation and ran past the table that my third bottle of energy drink was on, I had to turn around and lost about 15 seconds, which is just enough to snap the tie I had with the other runners. For the last 8 km I was all alone. My focus was still good and my physical strength was not yet fading. It is typically the last 10 km of a marathon that really start to hurt, but this is no foreign feeling to me and so I was ready and willing to push on through.

Just before the 39 km point my body started to indicate it was reaching its limit. My quadriceps were both showing early signs of cramping.  When a major muscle group like this starts to threaten to cramp it is a real problem.  The only thing to do is to shorten the stride length, listen intently to your body and go into survival mode in order to not seize up completely and have to walk.

Muscles seizing up due to fatigue and/or inappropriate levels of calories and electrolytes is a horrible feeling that I am familiar and try to avoid at all costs since walking or limping is much slower than running an adjusted pace. I won’t forget that 39 km marker for a while as it was right at that point that my quads packed up and went home early. I drew on my years of experience and was able to manage the damage enough so that I could continue to run, albeit slowly.

The finish line never gets old, and at this race you can’t actually see the finish line until you are about 150m from it, so when you come around that last slight bend and see it the elation sets in and all the discomfort that has infested your body disappears…until you cross the line and stop running. Then, it really hurts for a while.

I knew I had done everything I possibly could have on the day, and so my first real attempt at running an open marathon was an overwhelming success.  The typical feeling of “I will never do that again” was there, but I was in a more peaceful mindset at this finish line than I have ever been in the past. When I competed in triathlon and there was prize money on the line I was almost never satisfied with my performance (even if I had won the race). But as I age and mature I have started to enjoy the journey more since I know it won’t last forever.

I would like to leave you with two last thoughts:

  1. It does not matter how fast or slow you are, the important thing is that you set a goal (in any physical activity) and enjoy the journey to that goal;
  2. Each event in which you participate allows you to set a positive example for the youth and helps build your community.

Train smart!

Managing Menopause: A Three-Pronged Approach

BY TAWNYA RITCO, RHN

While some women float through the menopausal years relatively carefree, with little in the way of hormonal disruptions, others find it very challenging and in some cases debilitating. That’s why managing menopause is one of the most important issues for women in their transitional years. Ideally, this is done naturally, with women following a three-pronged approach designed to manage menopause effectively and reduce or even eliminate many of the common symptoms and effects of this hormonal shift.

The Context: Change of Life

We have two significant shifts in life: teenage puberty and the changes leading into menopause. Although these are certainly natural transitions in life, the challenge arises when our bodies have difficulty adapting to fluctuating hormones. Menopausal symptoms can range from hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, irritability, vaginal dryness and sleeplessness…and unfortunately, that’s just to name a few.

How a woman transitions during her perimenopausal years leading into menopause – the phase in life that is marked by one year without menses — depends on a number of factors, from her genetics and diet to overall lifestyle.

A contributing factor that adds to the challenge is stress and this has only become exacerbated for modern day women who have made multi-tasking their middle name.  It is not uncommon in this digital world for our boundaries to be consistently blurred. Women are finding that ideal balance — between the never-ending to do list, career, family, social life and other daily expectations — doesn’t always come easy.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone in that regard.

Recognizing Your Personal Stress Triggers

So the question becomes how does stress play into the equation when it comes to menopause? First, it is important to recognize that as we enter into the period of perimenopause leading up to menopause, our ovaries slow down and produce less progesterone, testosterone and estrogen. This forces our adrenal glands into a taxing back-up role. This is why protracted levels of stress in a woman’s younger years can potentially contribute to a more difficult time transitioning into menopause.

If your current stress level is high or you experienced chronic stress when you were younger, your adrenal glands may not be functioning optimally.  This is often when those nasty menopause symptoms rear their ugly head.  The good news is that there are things that you can do for a more graceful transition.

Positive Lifestyle Solutions

The first step is making some lifestyle adjustments to help eliminate the extra stressors that can tax your adrenals over time. What are your personal stress triggers and how can they be eliminated?  Do you have coping strategies in place to help mitigate the impacts of stress?  For some a walk in nature, yoga, meditation or mindfulness, diaphragmatic breathing can help bring the body into a more parasympathetic state (rest and digest) as opposed to relying on the sympathetic system (fight and flight) commonly associated with our stress response.

Nutrition

Are we fueling our body with whole food nutrition? Eliminating or reducing too much coffee and alcohol, white sugar and other stimulants helps reduce the extra pressure.

Supplementation

Working in tandem with nutrition and lifestyle adjustments, supplementation can play a key role in providing additional support during this pivotal time in life.  When it comes to supplementation, among the leading natural supplements is PURICA Rebalance Menopause Relief, a blend of three medicinal mushrooms and three herbs that work synergistically to support the whole body by naturally rebalancing your hormones.

Headlining the blend of medicinal mushrooms in PURICA Rebalance is Chaga, which helps relieve stress, promotes youthfulness of the skin, hair and nails, and perhaps most important, increases energy.

Certified organic PURICA Lion’s Mane is a mushroom powerhouse that is included to help improve cognition and memory and has the added benefit of helping digestion.  Meanwhile the third mushroom ingredient – Cordyceps – helps enhance vitality and energy and increases libido while providing all important support for the adrenals.  It also increases the immune response.

PURICA Rebalance also includes a blend of herbs such as Giant Angelica, Sok-Dan and Wilfords Cynanchum.  It is present in this menopause relief product as a proprietary blend of three hot water extracts known as EstroG-100 clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, nervousness, occasional sleeplessness and mood swings.

Following this three pronged approach of healthy dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments to manage stress and supplementation on the strength of natural products such as PURICA Rebalance, we can significantly help smooth the transition to embrace this new chapter in life.  And who wouldn’t want a smoother landing at this time in life?

Tawnya Ritco, R.H.N., is Director of Education for PURICA and promotes natural health education and finds inspiration in the connection between nutrition, lifestyle, and vitality.

PURICA Foundation Expands Scope to Support Care and Well-being Throughout Full Spectrum of Life

PURICA FOUNDATION EXPANDS SCOPE TO SUPPORT CARE AND WELL-BEING THROUGHOUT FULL SPECTRUM OF LIFE

…from its new campaign for the BC Ambulance Infant Transport Team at BC Women’s Hospital to its ongoing support of the Cowichan Valley Hospice House Project, the charitable arm aims to help and protect the most vulnerable of children and those in need of end-of-life care

DUNCAN, B.C (Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018) – PURICA, a Canadian-owned and operated whole food and natural supplements company, is expanding the scope of the PURICA Foundation to span those in critical need throughout the full spectrum of life; from the most vulnerable of babies cared for by the BC Ambulance Infant Transport Team at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at BC Women’s Hospital to those who will benefit from care at the future Cowichan Valley Hospice House. Continue reading

The PURICA mushroom advantage

Modern science confirms what many ancient cultures have known: many mushrooms contain a host of ingredients that strengthen and heal the body.

BY TOM MASON

The healing powers of mushrooms have been well known to humans for thousands of years. These unique lifeforms that are neither plant nor animal were used as a vital source of medicines in Tibet, China, India and other ancient cultures. The medicinal properties of mushrooms are referenced in the Rigveda, a collection of Sanskrit hymns dating from around 1,200 B.C. There’s also evidence that the ancient Greeks used mushrooms in medicinal drinks more than 3,000 years ago.

In the modern era of medicine, mushrooms and other fungi have been used to develop treatments for everything from diabetes and malaria to fungal infections. The first antibiotics were developed from fungi; so were statins used for the treatment of high cholesterol. Mushrooms have also been used as a commercial source of vitamin D and other pharmaceuticals.

Today, PURICA applies scientific methodology to these ancient healing substances, creating a safe, powerful and balanced range of products that is helping with everything from relief from chronic stress to modulating the immune system and improving memory. PURICA products are also used as a complement to the treatment of a number of serious medical conditions.

Many of the mushroom ingredients PURICA uses have roots in ancient medicines. They have proven to be safe and effective for centuries. Chaga mushroom is a fungus that grows on the sides of birch trees. In the right formulation it delivers more than 200 powerful phytonutrients that help the human body with a range of conditions. Lion’s Mane mushrooms are known to promote the synthesis of a protein crucial to the growth and health of nerve cells within the brain. Cordyceps mushrooms improve oxygen uptake in cells.

To make these and other mushroom products even more effective, the company incorporates the four PURICA Advantages into everything it produces: full spectrum formulation; therapeutic grade ingredients, the highest quality products and arguably the most important, easy absorption.

 

The PURICA difference

Micronization unlocks active compounds from their indigestible fibrous matrix.

Producing a full spectrum product means that PURICA uses the entire mushroom in all stages of its growth and life cycle—the mycelia, fruitbodies and spores—to produce each of its carefully formulated products.

Easy absorption is ensured through a process known as micronization, which reduces large particles into fine, soluble particles, measured in micrometres, which are easy for the body to absorb. Great care is taken in all stages of the growing, harvesting and processing of every mushroom used in PURICA products—a process that preserves active ingredients to deliver a consistent therapeutic grade product. Because of the high degree of quality control, each PURICA product qualifies as a healing superfood, grown on a certified organic plant base with trace minerals.

PURICA has developed a range of healthy products that includes Complete 360, a powerful energy booster; Immune 7 that provides serious immune support, supercharges vitality and provides support for mainstream therapies; Vitality to help combat adrenal exhaustion; and Rebalance for menopause relief.

PURICA Complete 360 contains a combination of eight species of organic, full-spectrum mushrooms including shiitake, cordyceps, coriolus, maitake, red reishi, chaga and lion’s mane—each known for its health-giving qualities. The carefully balanced formulation is ideal for people who find they are losing energy, feeling stressed, experiencing sleep loss or suffering from frequent colds and viruses.

PURICA Immune 7 is a combination of six medicinal mushrooms and a proprietary ingredient called Nutricol® that have been carefully formulated to help with suppressed immune systems, infectious diseases, allergies, skin conditions and stress. Favoured by athletes, its ingredients have been shown to significantly strengthen the immune system.

Our adrenal glands have a profound impact on our health. They produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol that induce stress. Too much over time and they negatively affect the body. To help improve adrenal function, PURICA Vitality uses chaga mushrooms, one of the most biochemically loaded substances on Earth with over 200 potent phytonutrients, along with cordyceps mushrooms that contain powerful adaptogens that help support the adrenals.

PURICA Rebalance works to ease the most common symptoms of menopause—hot flashes, mood swings, stresses and hormone imbalances—with ingredients that include certified organic micronized chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane mushrooms, along with several other organic active ingredients.

PURICA takes its cues from the ancient traditions of medicine—zeroing in on products with well-known properties, with a solid track record for safety and reliability. Modern science also plays an integral role in the formulation process. Quality control is assured by growing the mushrooms in a pristine lab environment under carefully controlled conditions. PURICA has perfected the technology of micronization to make compounds more bioavailable for easier absorption.

The result is a family of products that is true to the PURICA mantra: “Nature. Science. You.”

Health-giving mushrooms

Sun mushroom (Agaricus blazei)

Agaricus has long been recognized for its ability to galvanize immune response, reduce both physical and mental stress and help the body to detoxify. It also possesses powerful anti-inflammatory action.

Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

The Red Reishi mushroom has long been known in traditional Chinese medicine as the mushroom of immortality—a claim that’s been backed up by scientists who have found that it increases longevity in mice and may possibly do the same for humans. It supports better sleep, helps with calming and de-stressing the body and supports the immune system.

get PURICA red reishi

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

A powerful antioxidant, Maitake—or “hen-of-the-woods” possesses anti-viral properties and contributes to the immune-enhancing properties of PURICA Complete 360. The mushroom encourages a healthy lipid profile. A recently identified Maitake compound, known as SX fraction, has been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

This tree mushroom has long been known for its ability to enhance memory and cognitive ability, as well as to calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety. Lion’s Mane stimulates the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), a small protein crucial to the growth, maintenance and survival of nerve cells within the brain.

get PURICA Lion's Mane

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

Although its health benefits have been known for centuries, the chaga mushroom gained fame in modern times as the curative mushroom in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s semi-autobiographical novel, Cancer Ward. Chaga is a rich source of antioxidants and beta-glucans, which protect the body’s tissues and stimulate the immune system.

get PURICA Chaga

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

Well known by modern cooks and gourmets for its subtle flavours, the shiitake mushroom also restores the immune system to optimal balance. Shiitake contains lentinan, a compound that activates the immune system’s natural killer cells that halt the replication of cells with mutated DNA. Lentinan also reduces hormone-like prostaglandins that create inflammation.

Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps helps the body increase its output of energy by enhancing oxygen uptake by the cells. It also helps athletes recuperate faster and improves a flagging libido. And like all medicinal mushrooms, Cordyceps also boosts the immune system. In short, it can make you feel young and vital.

get PURICA Cordyceps

Coriolus (Coriolus versicolor)

Often referred to as turkey tail mushroom, Coriolus is widely recognized for its powerful and consistent ability to affect the human immune response. Two of its active ingredients, polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and polysaccharide krestin (PSK), have been shown to profoundly affect immunity. Over 600 studies have been carried out on PSP, and close to 25 clinical trials. In one study, researchers at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York found Coriolus superior to all other immune enhancing natural substances tested.

get PURICA Turkey Tail

Heal like a child

PURICA founder Jason Watkin shares his philosophy and inspiration behind the brand.

BY DAVID HOLT

Growing up in British Columbia, Jason Watkin loved to play sports. He saw the downside, however, as many of his athletic friends had knee and back injuries. At age 16 he was in a serious car accident. As he recovered, he gained a new awareness of how the body reacts to stress, which can come from injury or illness or just living in the modern world. “Stress alone can break you down,” he says.

He gravitated to science and sports medicine, studying biochemistry at the University of Victoria and also Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Then, he followed his cousin who is a dancer to Europe and worked as a nutritionist with the Royal Dutch Ballet. There, he saw how prone dancers are to injury. The difficult movements and repetition inevitably take their toll. To make things even more challenging, they are also under constant pressure to keep their weight down.

“This is very destructive,” he says. “It makes them susceptible to autoimmune and connective tissue issues. Life in the theatre world is very exciting, but behind the scenes there is a lot of inflammatory disease. Dancers can end up with eating disorders and gut problems that rob them of essential nutrients.”

This experience in Europe sparked his interest in developing natural products to reduce inflammation. After doing research in the literature, he started formulating a product to help dancers come back from injury. He investigated traditional medicines that use plants, including the polyphenol class such as bioflavonoids and catechins found in teas and berries.
“I wanted to create products that help you heal as you get older,” he says. “I wanted to optimize how cells behave so you could heal like a kid.”

He found that certain plant-based compounds help tissues become more stable and more flexible. They increase the fluidity and flexibility of cell membranes, which helps them to receive hormones and decrease insulin insensitivity.

The initial formulation, later called Recovery, was based on EGCG, proanthocyanidins, theaflavin and resveratrol for joint and muscle pain and stiffness. As it gained traction in the world of dance, his brother Trevor used it successfully on his own long-time skin condition. The family decided it was time to build an organization to market this initial product. His brother Trevor and his parents mortgaged their houses to launch PURICA, based in their hometown of Duncan, on Vancouver Island.

The name PURICA combines “pure” and “care,” reflecting the natural purity of the products and the care they put into their formulations. The logo incorporates a modified triskelion, a Celtic symbol involving the interplay of three entities, invoking the PURICA mantra “Nature. Science. You.”

As Recovery was gaining traction, a veterinary version was tested on horses that had been given corticosteroids for inflammation. In turn they needed antibiotics because the steroids were suppressing the immune system, leading to inflammation and actually decreasing muscle mass and eventually bone density.

The results of a trial in the United States was published in Horse Journal. The company went from nowhere in the industry to the phone ringing off the hook. “There is no placebo effect with animals,” says Watkin. “The vets either see improvement or they don’t.”

Later Watkin developed PURICA Provascin, a product that targets cardiovascular issues, after his uncle had a ruptured aorta and his father had a heart attack on the operating table. That was 25 years ago. As an added benefit, PURICA products are safe to take with pharmaceuticals. MDs use Recovery and Provascin along with conventional medications. “My father used to take eight drugs plus Provascin,” says Watkin. “He’s alive and healthy and 75.”

States of body and mind

As science has shown, there is a clear relationship between stress and disease. “When the mind is relaxed you feel like you’re getting along in the world,” says Watkin.

“This the opposite of the hypercompetitive world we live in today. Younger people handle stress well, but over time it breaks down our bodies. We are aging faster.”

Central to the stress response is the difference in the balance of the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic is for “fight or flight” and the parasympathetic for “relaxation and recovery.”

The fight-or-flight mode is designed for short-term energy. It helped our ancestors deal with physical threats. Now most of the stress is mental and the energy boost actually turns on the body. Too much time in the sympathetic can be destructive, interfering with blood clot formation and other basic functions.

“I looked at the individual cell as a reflection of the body and mind,” says Watkin. “When we stay in the fight-or-flight response, our minds become inflexible. We are filled with tension. We can’t remember things. Our sugars spike and we are tired and have mood swings.”

Ironically, the pressure of creating new products and running the company took its toll. Watkin was working too much and sleeping too little. He started investigating psychology, which has a big influence on how people respond to the world. “If you live in a state of stress, of ‘dis-ease,’ it initiates the sympathetic state,” he says.

He began to spend time in nature and get more exercise, including yoga. He investigated the ancient wisdom traditions that help people feel calm and clear-minded, studying comparative literature and philosophy. He focussed on the Indo-Tibetan tradition. “I wanted to learn more about how the mind works. How can people stay relaxed and calm?”

While immersed in subjects like anti- aging techniques, digestion and sleep, he focussed more on the mushrooms that have been used traditionally in Tibet and China as the “top tier of their medicines.” These include Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps and Chaga.

His research led him to develop Immune 7, a formulation of six medicinal mushrooms and nutricol® to support immunity, strengthen the body’s response to stress and optimize health. It is used for serious conditions and just to strengthen the immune system.

Then he formulated PURICA Complete 360, based on Ashwagandha and mushrooms, to help people feel younger and have a clear mind. “Complete 360 helps you to live like when you were a child.”

Today researchers at PURICA continue to develop new products to help people both physically and psychologically. “It’s the idea of body, mind, spirit. If people don’t like the term spirit, we can say we help you spend more time in the parasympathetic state. We are seeing age-defying results.”

Asked about his own philosophy, Watkin muses and replies, “You could define me as a Buddhist/ Celt. There is no one perfect way to live your life.”

While still active at PURICA, he is launching a new business Beachside Kayak on Salt Spring Island to provide kayaking and paddle boarding on the ocean. It has connected him with the First Nations people in the Gulf Islands. “The wisdom traditions of the world bring ancient messages back into our lives,” he says. “They help us to open up, to realize the lives we live are not always who we really are. We ask: Am I over-reacting to the world?”

Watkin has a science background, but he sees the downside of our obsession with technology. “I think the new generation will eventually get enough of all these machines that are set up to make you tired,” he says. “They will see the negative side and want to heal. We are faced with constant distractions and ridiculous information overload. We resist being present. When we are part of a real community, we feel better and perform better. We need to get back to this.”

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Best Mushroom Award for PURICA Lion’s Mane

PURICA EARNS SECOND CONSECUTIVE NATIONAL NUTRITION AWARD FOR BEST MUSHROOM

…Duncan, B.C.-based whole food and natural supplements company recognized for excellence in natural health for PURICA Lion’s Mane as Best Mushroom

DUNCAN, B.C (Wednesday, September 19th, 2018) – For the second straight year, PURICA has been selected as a winner at the National Nutrition Awards presented by NationalNutrition.ca, a Toronto-based online vitamin, minerals and supplements retailer.

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