Nutrigenetics in a Nutshell

By Miles, CN Supplements Buyer

Every wondered how your genes can play a role in things like metabolism, bone health, inflammation, and food sensitivity? Our resident experimental science aficionado, Miles breaks down the basics behind genetic testing and how it can help you understand your body!

And, from today (April 24th) through May 1st 2017, we're running an instagram giveaway with Nordic Naturals - win a bottle of Omega Memory with Curcumin and a bottle of Vitamin D3 Gummies, along with the Bliss Kit from local Orig3n! For more details visit our Instagram.

What’s a Gene again?

As you may remember from high school biology, our cells contain bundles of information otherwise known as genes. Your genes were passed down to you from your parents, and help to determine everything from the color of your hair to how your metabolism operates, among much else. DNA is a long double helix with repeating molecules of nucleotides that make up your genetic code.

In order to be expressed, your genetic code of DNA is read and converted into proteins in a process known as transcription and translation. Again, these proteins are what define your unique characteristics – they can be enzymes that help create neurotransmitters like serotonin, or the collagen in your skin.

Mutations in our genes can occur. Most of the time, these mutations do not make too big of a difference in terms of how our biology operates. A common type of mutation is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which occurs when one of the base pairs in DNA gets changed around. This may result in decreased activity of the enzyme/protein for which the gene encodes, so sometimes SNP’s lead to disease states.

What does all of this mean for us at Cambridge Naturals? Many supplements interact with our DNA or how our genes are expressed. Turmeric supplements, for example, may work in part by turning off certain genes that lead to heightened inflammation. To support your selection of supplements, we’ve actually started selling DNA genetic test kits.*


Why would I want to test my genes?

Sometimes when I help somebody choose supplements, I add the caveat, “we all respond to supplements in a bit of a different way.” There are numerous factors that alter how supplements may work in our bodies, ranging from nutrition, digestive health, and metabolism--all the way to psychosocial variables. A key part of this paradigm, however, is our genetics. Our DNA governs the way we metabolize and absorb certain types of nutrients. Hence, based on our DNA, some specific types of supplements might work better for our bodies than others.

The concept of optimizing your health with supplements targeted to your DNA is an emerging area of focus called Nutrigenetics, and it’s a key component in the type of complementary and alternative medicine practice called Functional Medicine.

With Orig3n Life Profile genetic test kits, your genetic information is collected from a cheek swab sample and analyzed for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s.) It can be cost prohibitive to analyze your entire genome, so only certain genes related to specific areas of wellness are analyzed.

Orig3n Life Profile kits are not diagnostic tests and cannot be used for the diagnosis of disease. Nowhere in your results will it tell you that you are deficient in any vitamin. Instead, the words: “adapt, normal, or gifted” are used to discuss genetic activity. For example, if someone has a mutation in a gene linked to Vitamin D metabolism that is statistically associated with lower Vitamin D levels, the test results imply that he or she might need to “Adapt” based on their result. It doesn’t, however, tell you what your Vitamin D levels are! Nonetheless, when we find out more about the SNP’s in our genome we can make actionable conscious decisions to optimize our health.


Orig3n Life Profile – An Overview of Kits

Orig3n Life Profile has five different genetic test kits available to us. They are as follows.

Superhero – The “beginner” genetic test kit. Only analyzes for three genes related to muscle speed, strength and IQ.

Fuel - Analyzes for SNPs in genes that contribute to food sensitivity, vitamin absorption, sugar craving and fat metabolism.

Bliss – Analyzes genes related to mood and behavior imbalances. Think: neurotransmitter receptors and related enzymes.

Aura – Skin health genes! Think collagen, hydration, and antioxidant genes that protect us from the sun’s rays.

Fitcode – Analyzes genes linked to fitness, endurance, VO2 max and recovery, among others.

Come in and ask any one of us about the Orig3n kits that are newly available to you!

*These kits are non-diagnostic, do not require blood samples, and are not meant to be used to diagnose any disease nor prescribe any treatments.

Three Herbs for City Folks

Photo by  Shashidhara Halady via Wikicommons

Photo by  Shashidhara Halady via Wikicommons

By Steph Zabel,
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

As an urban dwelling herbalist I like to focus on the issues and challenges that city folks face in their day-to-day lives. Obviously for many people high stress levels due to the demands of modern, fast-paced, caffeine-fueled living are on ongoing problem. Many of us have nervous systems that are depleted and/or over-stimulated which makes us prone to overwhelm, anxiety, and just plain exhaustion.

Of course there are many factors that should be addressed when you are feeling stressed and frazzled, involving adequate sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, and making sure you have enough joy and connection in your life.

So how do herbs fit into all of this?

Can drinking a cup of herbal tea or taking a tincture really make any difference in the midst of a hectic day?


Here are three of my favorite herbs for worn out, highly-strung city dwellers whose nervous systems are in need of some love:

SAGE (Salvia officinalis)

This common garden plant is known more for its culinary uses than its medicinal properties, but little do most people know what a treasure trove this herb is. There’s an old saying, “Why should a man die when sage grows in his garden?”…referring to the belief that sage promotes a long and healthy life.

Photo by David Monniaux via Wikicommons

Photo by David Monniaux via Wikicommons

Personally I find sage to be one of the best plants to help me immediately feel calm if I am nervous or anxious. The tea is highly aromatic and comforting, soothing to both the mind and the digestive organs (much of the nervous system is housed in the gut). Sage essential oil can be used (diluted) to calm an over-active or overwhelmed mind, or inhaled before meditation to help you stay centered and focused. Traditionally sage was believed to have the ability to enhance inner wisdom and insight, thus one who is wise is called a “sage.”

Besides being a wonderfully calming cup of tea, sage can also be used in cases of stress-induced headaches, and may also be useful for some people who have sleep issues due to anxiety.

To make a strong cup of sage tea use 1/2 to 1 Tblsp. of the dried herb per cup of hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Add a spoonful of honey if you wish. The essential oil of sage can be diluted in a liquid spray and spritzed to impart its calmative properties.

Sage should be avoided during pregnancy, but soon-to-be mamas can benefit from our next herb…

MILKY OAT (Avena sativa)

Oats are incredibly nourishing. You probably know them as the hot morning cereal that has been an important staple crop of Northern European peoples for centuries. But besides being a nourishing food for the whole body they are specifically nourishing for the nervous system. Oats are a trophorestorative herb, which simply means that they feed nerve tissue and help to restore normal nerve function and vitality.

A tea or tincture of milky oats helps people to come back from nervous exhaustion and over-work. Oats help calm frayed or shattered nerves, and ease anxiety and emotional instability. Truly, this is one of my absolute favorite herbs because it is so gentle but so powerful at the same time and makes a noticeable difference for anyone who is stressed, constantly upset, overly sensitive or depleted and worn out. Herbalists have also used oats successfully to help calm the agitation from coffee or cigarette withdrawal.

If using the tincture, be sure to look for Milky Oat tincture, which means that the oats where harvested at a time when the seed yields a milky substance when crushed – this is where much of its nutritional and medicinal value lies.

If making a tea, use one big handful of the dried oat tops per quart of water. Pour boiled water over the herb and let steep overnight to extract as much of the medicinal qualities as possible.

One word of caution about oat – while it is one of the safest and most gentle of herbs, it may not be suitable for people who have severe gluten intolerance due to cross-contamination from gluten-containing grains.

TULSI or HOLY BASIL (Ocimum sanctum and O. tenuiflorum)

Recently tulsi has become the darling of many Western herbalists, and for good reason – in Ayurvedic tradition it has been a revered herb for thousands of years, called the “elixir of life” and used for everything from respiratory problems to beautifying the complexion to keeping evil influences away from the home. Western herbalists now know and love this herb (a close cousin of culinary basil) for its use as an adaptogen, which is a technical way of saying that it helps us adapt to and overcome everyday stress.

Like sage, tulsi is great for anxiety and overwhelm and will help you to RELAX. Used over time it can also increase energy and endurance. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that tulsi will move an individual towards whole health and vitality, protect against disease and gladden the heart. Overall it is a wonderful (and delicious!) herb that will gently reduce feelings of stress and is a delicious addition to your tea stash.

To make a strong cup of tulsi use up to 1 Tblsp. of dried herb per cup of water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Tulsi also makes a wonderful iced tea during the summer months – keep a pitcher in the fridge to drink throughout the day.

Try your hand at incorporating one or all three of these herbs into your life, and see how they support you during busy, stressful times. I’d love to know how they work for you – feel free to let me know in the comments below!


Methow Valley Herbs
Blessed Maine Herbs
Herbal Remedies Advice

Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world.  She teaches herbal classes, is available for individual wellness consultations, and is also the founder of HERBSTALK, Boston’s community herbal conference.  Learn more about her work at: and

Monthly Muse: Gianne Doherty

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

By Mary, Body Care Buyer and Blog Contributor

You may have noticed some new things around the store lately. New faces, new sales, and most exciting of all: NEW PRODUCTS! We recently stocked some of the shelves in our body care department with a line we’ve been eager to share with our customers.

Organic Bath Co. is owned by Gianne Doherty, a Medford resident, natural skin care aficionado, and all around wonderful human being. We now carry the OBC body scrubs, body wash, and body butters in both full and travel size. Each product comes in a variety of scents, using only organic essential oils, to suit any preference. Not only are you supporting a local company with each OBC purchase, you’re also supporting a bigger cause. With each and every purchase, 1% is donated to charity. As Gianne says, “true beauty begins with giving back.” But Gianne’s accomplishments don’t stop there. She is also the founder of W.E.L.L. Summit, an annual event bringing together and empowering the wellness community. Read on to learn more about Gianne, her work, and how all of this got started.

CN: What is your favorite place or thing to do in the Boston area?

GD: We just spent Sunday walking around and exploring different neighborhoods in Boston, sat on the Esplanade and I loved it! It doesn’t cost a thing, the people watching was great and I found myself seeing the same places with new eyes. The exercise I got from walking off and on for 3 hours was an added bonus! :-)

CN: What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

GD: Ohh, I am a voracious reader and read a few books a week. The last book I read that I couldn’t put down was Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.  I love mysteries!

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

CN: Can you tell us about how Organic Bath Company got started?

GD: A  few years ago, when my skin began reacting (by way of hives!) to mainstream lotions I had been using, my boyfriend Jay and I ended up making a pure, unscented, shea butter-based body butter for me that my skin still loves to this day. As I learned more about the personal care industry and its lack of regulation, the more determined I was to make safe products for myself and family and friends. Organic Bath Co. began out of necessity with that shea butter-based body butter (now known as “Drenched”), and we’ve donated a portion of our proceeds to charity since day one!  

CN: What inspired you to found the W.E.L.L. Summit and where do you envision it going in the future?

GD: The W. E. L. L. Summit was created through conversations with our customers, friends & family. We are constantly asked for advice about questions that are often a bit outside of our scope such as: What natural deodorants should we use? Why should our products contain essential oils and not fragrance? Etc. Ultimately, we recognized that there was a need in our community and a larger community to bring the best of the wellness industry together in a space of empowerment and learning for all!  

CN: We love that OBC donates 1% of each purchase to those in need! Which organizations are you currently working with?

GD: We donate to Charity Water which we love because they build wells and provides access to clean water across the globe to others who may not have had it. What's amazing is that 100% of the donations go to funding the water projects.

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

CN:  What are your top three essential products from Cambridge Naturals?

GD: This is a hard question because I can and have spent hours browsing Cambridge Naturals shelves. I LOVE that there is something for everyone and all aspects of your life... from beauty, home, gifts & to your kitchen. We always pick up a few packets of 2 Dogs Treats for our dog Bruschi. The tea selection is fantastic and you carry my favorite, Rishi Tea. My sweet tooth demands that I pick up some bars of Taza Chocolate or some [Apotheker's] Mallows. YUM.

Thank you so much to Gianne for taking the time to share her story with us. W.E.L.L. Summit will be taking place next month in New York City on October 21-22. If you’re interested in learning more about this year’s speakers or attending, visit Let us know in the comments what your favorite Organic Bath Co. product is!

Brenden's Boosted Coffee with Gaia's Golden Milk

Many of you have heard of Bulletproof® coffee... now try our grocery manager Brenden's version using Gaia's Golden Milk powder**! Golden Milk traditionally contains turmeric and black pepper, and Gaia has incorporated the ayurvedic adaptogen Ashwaganda, which helps to balance healthy levels of stress and energy, as well as supporting the whole body immune system. To sweeten and add a hint of aromatic spice, Gaia includes Vanilla, Cardamom and Date powder (also traditionally used in ayurveda). Perfect to add to any warm beverage - including a cup of coffee! Read on for the full recipe...