Menopause – Disease or Dis-ease?

By: Erin Valasek


Last month I had a 30th birthday, and it was a very welcomed birthday indeed. We all tend to have different views on getting older, and I really embrace it. Before some of the older ladies begin rolling their eyes at that statement, allow me to explain. I personally feel the 20s are overhyped, as you are still really learning who you are (oh the hard lessons, and days of being so broke I could only eat pancakes twice a day) and haven’t quite found your footing yet. Now I realize 30 in the scope of age isn’t quite getting old. However, I think one naturally progresses to look forward to the coming years pondering what is next. Who will you be in 10-20 years? Is your view lens one of the glass half full or half empty perspective? For some, this can be a fearful thought, especially for women, and the dreaded stage of menopause looms over our young-ish heads. I don’t wish to move forward in a fear of uncertainty, especially regarding this important change in life. I want to be educated about what menopause is, what it means, and how I can experience the healthiest transition possible when my time comes. So my question is, where does this fear come from, and more importantly….

Why are we treating menopause like a disease?

Menopause is a natural stage of life, just as puberty is. Yet, the symptoms of puberty aren’t being beamed on the television for a new drug to take the painful awkwardness away (yet). Now, I realize it can be a very lengthy and extremely difficult transition for many women, but the key word is transition. It should be embraced as such. Allow me to demystify the negative stigma of this phase which women in the middle of their lives have absolutely no choice over. I seek to share what I have learned in researching this topic for myself and hope some comfort comes from what is presented here.

Menopause is the cessation of menstruation, typically occurring around 40-50 years of age in women. Perimenopause is the beginning transition into menopause, usually starting in a womans 40s. The length of perimenopause is different for every woman, generally ranging from a few months to several years (up to 10). As a woman ages, her eggs do as well, and ovulation slows. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate and the first symptoms of menopause begin to occur. Many common symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, breast tenderness, worsening of premenstrual syndrome, decreased libido, fatigue, irregular periods, vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping (WebMD). Many women will also experience weight gain due to the reduction of progesterone and estrogen.

Pregnancy is still possible at this stage so contraception should still be used. Perimenopause finishes when a menstrual cycle has ceased completely for a year. At this point, menopause begins. The ovaries have stopped releasing eggs, and any remaining estrogen dissipates.

A woman is postmenopausal when the symptoms of menopause begin to disappear and pregnancy is no longer possible. The hair tends to thin, skin loses some of its elasticity, muscle mass decreases, and the risk for osteoporosis becomes a concern for many women. Some women embrace this stage with joy, as the previous years of hormonal aggravation and suffering are over. There is a relief of no longer having to deal with monthly periods or worry about contraception. A small percentage of women may become despondent and depressed. The aging process becomes more of a reality and there may be a feeling of the loss of womanhood as she is no longer able to bring children into the world. A sullen version of “over-the-hill” mentality can unfortunately take residence in a woman’s mind as reality.

None of this sounds fun, of course, but it is not an unnatural experience. Every woman will respond to the changes of menopause differently. However, in our “pill for every ill” society, you better believe the drug companies have persuaded millions of women that they can be saved from the evils of menopause. When treating menopause as a deficiency disease, you can convince women the body is making a horrible mistake by no longer producing hormones, and these hormones can be replaced. This natural, biological change of life can be practically reversed with Hormone Replacement Therapy (or HRT) and/or bioidentical hormones.

Hormone Replacement Therapy is a synthetic combination of hormones (usually estrogen and progesterone) derived from pregnant horses urine used to “treat the symptoms” of menopause. (click here for animal welfare info) They go against the grain and essentially add what the body is working to diminish. Hormone Replacement Therapy (also known as HRT, or HT) has been successful in relieving hot flashes and night sweats, reducing vaginal dryness and improving libido, and relieving insomnia. The dangers far outweigh the benefits, however. Several studies have shown HT greatly increases the risk of breast cancer. A small percentage of women on HT are at risk for Cardiovascular Disease and blood clotting.

Bioidentical hormones became an alternative for many women afraid of the dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy. It has been praised as a natural, safer source of hormones, yet there is no evidence to back this claim.  Bioidentical hormones are used like HT for the treatment of the symptoms of menopause. The term “bioidentical” means the hormones are chemically identical to those your body produces. (Mayo Clinic)  These hormones are labeled as natural as they are plant derived. However, they’re not found in this form in nature but are made, or synthesized, from a plant chemical extracted from yams and soy. Bioidentical estrogens are 17 beta-estradiol, estrone, and estriol. (Estradiol is the form of estrogen that decreases at menopause.) Bioidentical progesterone is simply progesterone. It’s micronized (finely ground) in the laboratory for better absorption in the body.(

Although the risks generally seem to be less with Bioidentical hormones vs. HT, there isn’t a lot of research supporting the safety of them either. Dr. Andrew Weil has questioned the safety of these therapies and stated: “Two important issues surround the use of bioidentical hormones. First, some pharmacies selling these hormones over the internet had made misleading claims about their safety and effectiveness. In a 2008 letter to seven of these pharmacies, the FDA maintained that the compounded products were no safer than conventional forms of hormone replacement therapy. (Premarin and most other FDA-approved hormone therapies contain synthetic hormones.) In addition, the North American Menopause Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have questioned whether the bioidenticals from compounding pharmacies have been adequately tested and have stated that no evidence exists to demonstrate that compounded hormones are better or safer for women than the pharmaceutical drugs.” (

HT and Bioidentical hormones are not the only solutions on the planet to help women through the discomfort experienced in the transition of menopause. There are truly natural solutions, and many women handle the hormonal changes very well with a proper diet, exercise, and herbal supplementation.

Avoid processed, sugary, spicy, and high carbohydrate foods as they can increase hot flashes and disrupt a good night of rest.

Choose a diet rich in fruits and dark leafy greens, as they are high in B complex vitamins which help to boost serotonin and stabilize mood, and are rich in Calcium to promote bone density (with the exception of spinach).

Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens and help to balance hormonal highs and lows.

Omega-3 rich Salmon is a great heart healthy choice and can aid with vaginal dryness.

Black Cohosh, Red Clover, and Dong Quai have excellent reputations for reducing hot flashes and night sweats. (As a conscious shopper, make sure to avoid standardized extracts to avoid possible solvent contamination and only use a brand that can offer you tests for herbal identity as black cohosh is an herb that is often adulterated with foreign herbal substances that may be harmful to your liver. Click here for more information.)

Siberian Ginseng has a adaptogenic and hormonal balancing effect, it’s useful for combating fatigue and boosting memory.

Exercise (be it yoga, running, or pilates) have innumerable benefits to menopausal women ranging from maintaining a healthy weight, to controlling mood swings and hot flashes.

I think a lot of the fear of menopause also stems from the fear of aging. Women are taught to fight the aging process tooth and nail. Our society perpetuates the attitude that a woman’s worth is measured by her youthfulness and attractiveness. Menopause is looked at in such a negative light, almost as something to be ashamed of.  In the book Feminine Forever, Robert Wilson writes about the wonders of HRT stating “breasts and genital organs will not shrivel. She will be much more pleasant to live with and will not become dull and unattractive.” Nice, Robert, reeeeeal nice. Now granted, that book is from the 60s, but I don’t see that those concepts have changed enough from then to today. Perhaps that perspective isn’t as blatant as is written in this book, but have you watched television or been to the grocery store lately? Thousands of products marketed specifically towards aging women on how to stay young and supple, and combat the signs of aging.

I don’t want to view menopause and getting older this way, and I hope other women won’t view it this way either. I am not alone in this, and subtly, attitudes are changing. Our thoughts about menopause will affect the way we experience the transition. Women are waking up to the idea that their lives are not over, and they still have value and a lot of living to do after the stage of menopause. I want to embrace the changes my body is making, reach the end of the transition, and say “Great! What’s next?”

If you try to find information on the benefits of menopause, you may discover there isn’t much out there. One of my favorite physician turned authors, Dr. Christine Northrup, encourages women to look at the advantages of menopause. “You become far more intuitive, you are no longer satisfied with the status quo, and you find your voice in a different way.” (WebMD) I think that is a beautiful way to look at it. You still get a chance to discover and define who you are, in every moment. For example, many women enjoy traveling at the end of menopause as there is no more need to plan around their monthly cycle. Some women enjoy this as precious time to themselves, deepening their self knowledge and re-directing their energy into new interests or hobbies. Volunteering opportunities attract many women who are postmenopausal as well.

Ladies (and gentlemen), menopause is not easy, but it is nothing to fear, and it is not a disease to be cured. Life is full of stages, and this could be one of the most exciting transitions. The cultivation of wisdom and understanding is something we can all look forward to.

Additional resources:

Multivitamin Mania: Everything You Didn’t Know You Need to Know About Multivitamins

By: Dara HorstkemperMulti graphic

Our Multivitamin Campaign is well underway and we encourage you to dive in and submerge yourself in the awesomely vast ocean of information that we’ve created for no other reason than to enable you to buy the right thing, avoid the wrong thing, and live on healthfully and a little bit wiser (cause you are already so wise! I can tell because you are reading this blog right now).

At this very moment on you can learn what a multivitamin is (a good place to start, I’d say). You can find out what distinguishes synthetic and ‘food-based’ multivitamins.  You can quickly become an expert on reading multivitamin labels, and, my favorite parts, you can look at a list of brands we wouldn’t necessarily recommend and get the skinny on what brands Shop Conscious considers A-ok.  And finally, if you’re into all the crazy, deep science-y stuff, there’s plenty of that to keep you busy for a while. This is an evolving campaign and we still have more delicious knowledge to share, so keep checking back.

Now go learn something!  And keep in mind that we love feedback and comments on our work.  Help us serve you better by telling us what you think.  Also, remember to “like” us on Facebook to easily keep up with what we’re doing.

Quality vs. Quantity: When Milligrams Meet Magnitudes

By: Erin ValasekQuality vs. Quantity

I can’t recall just how many times I’ve been asked if the health food store where I was working at the time carried a particular mg (milligram) of a particular supplement. It was almost always the same 5 everyone asks for. The most popular ones being synthetic supplements or isolated nutrients such as ferrous sulfate, calcium carbonate, and magnesium citrate. I always found it quite curious that many people varying in age, weight, and sex would be looking for the same measurements. The human body is incredibly complex, and everyone has a unique chemistry, so how could this be working for everyone equally? Trying to explain this to someone waving a doctor’s prescription note in your face for a ridiculously high mg of crappy iron complicates things.  I am not a doctor. I have no authority of dictating what is best for the person standing before me and I didn’t blame them for not trusting my argument. I was barely making above minimum wage at a health food store, and they are on a mission from their well trusted, well paid, educated doctor.  Unfortunately, few doctors have a depth of nutrition science awareness, yet they often prescribe nutritional products.

I have never told a customer the advice their doctor gave them was incorrect, nor did I ask them to go against their authority. That was not my place, and prescribing without a license is a direct violation against the DSHEA act (and that is another can of worms to open for a rainy day). Instead, I would state the facts about what exactly it was they were looking for. Using creative language was a must in these situations.  Here’s the thing: gram, milligram, microgram, International Unit, etc. are measurements of weight. Weight, in this case, does not equal bioavailability or activity of a supplement. A higher dose will not necessarily absorb or “work” better. For many supplements, especially water soluble ones like B and C vitamins, there is only so much your body is able to assimilate at once. Supplement makers typically try to stuff as much as possible in a capsule, telling us that the more we take, the better it is for us. “This is simply not the case. As you now know, it is not necessarily the amount of a nutrient you ingest that is important, but its form and how much is useable by your body that counts the most. In fact, knowing that ingesting single nutrients can actually create imbalances in the body, logic would dictate the higher the level of a single nutrient that you take in, the quicker this imbalance will occur.” – Dr. Mercola

Synthetic and or isolated supplementation is usually heavy on dosing. I had one repeat customer who, against my advice, was sold on her calcium carbonate product in particular. It was always the same story, yet it never ceased to amaze me when she would say the calcium the doctor put her on wasn’t enough. The bone density tests came back with poor results, and the only prescribed solution was to increase the dosage. A month would pass, more tests, and more negative results. Eventually, she would develop calcium deposits in her breast, and the very same doctor who recommended the high milligram calcium in the first place told her she was taking too much.

This was a particularly frustrating topic for me when I was a Retail Product Specialist for a Whole Food Supplement company. The small milligram measurements of whole food supplements were a big issue for a lot of people who are used to seeing something like 10,000 IU of vitamin D on the shelves. The fact that the company I was working for was higher-end really didn’t help my case in the quantity vs. quality dose argument. The price would baffle customers who could be getting a higher milligram, much cheaper (synthetic) vitamin C, or what have you. Though I knew what I was recommending was far superior, and I could give multiple reasons for the wondrous benefits and price point, I felt like a shark. Even when they did take my advice, they would walk away spending more than they had intended, and I worried I would be viewed as nothing more than a salesman hawking their wares. When it comes to nutrition ladies and gentleman, you really do get what you pay for.

Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E can be dangerous in high amounts, as they tend to accumulate primarily in the liver. “Taking too much vitamin A can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, bone or joint pain, and can be fatal. Too much vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in your bloodstream, adversely affecting your heart and kidneys. Excessive vitamin E may impair blood clotting and increase your likelihood of hemorrhage.”

With whole food supplements, the weight measurements are not astronomically high because they don’t have to be. It’s food, real food in a tablet, the stuff the human body is supposed to have. Your body knows what to do with it.  A great example would be B vitamins. The company I worked for made a fantastic Whole Food Complex B with very low milligrams and micrograms. There are good reasons for this. B vitamins in particular are water-soluble. Taking an excess amount will not be absorbed and will quickly be excreted in the urine. That bright yellow color you see in your urine after taking a high potency multivitamin is usually riboflavin that wasn’t processed and thus is wasted.

Also, whole food supplements are more bioavailable and bio-appropriate, and because the sources are food, less is more. They aren’t isolated or fractionated and contain enzymes, co-enzymes, antioxidants, and other trace elements needed to work synergistically with the body’s metabolic needs. When looking at a label of a whole food multivitamin, the milligram or other unit of measurement you see on the label isn’t just the weight of the particular vitamin or mineral, it is the weight of the particular vitamin or mineral amplified in activity through a symphony of accompanying micronutrients and phytochemicals.  It’s like the difference between a single violin playing Beethoven’s 5th and an entire philharmonic.  Both are playing the same notes but only one has the power to nourish you entirely.

Pass the potatoes, please!

Scurvy, a disease characterized by symptoms as gum disease, loosening teeth, poor wound healing, and softening bones, hardly gets a blip on the radar these days of things to worry about. Diets with adequate amounts of vitamin C will prevent and treat the malady. Between 1650 and 1850, half of all sailors and oceanic voyagers were afflicted with Scurvy due to long journeys on the sea without proper nutrition. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a way to pop a 500mg orange flavored chewable of ascorbic acid and be done with it. Instead, Scurvy was commonly treated with citrus fruits and potatoes. Potatoes might seem an odd choice, as most wouldn’t automatically associate them with vitamin C. The incredible thing is there is usually less than 45mg of vitamin C in a potato, yet that small food-dose was enough to prevent and cure the disease.   

Ascorbic Acid is the antioxidant outer shell of Vitamin C and should not be considered the real deal. If we could jump back in time and offer the unfortunate seaman of Scurvy the isolated chemical instead of their food source as cure, the results would have been dismal. Nobel Prize Laureate Albert Szent-Georgi discovered vitamin C in 1937, and during his research of the nutrient he discovered ascorbic acid in its isolated form was not a treatment for Scurvy. “Realizing that he could always cure scurvy with the ‘impure’ vitamin C found in simple foods, Szent-Georgi discovered that other factors had to be at work in order for vitamin activity to take place. So he returned to the laboratory and eventually made the discovery of another member of the vitamin C complex- rutin. All the factors in the complex, as Royal Lee and Dr. Szent-Georgi both came to understand, ascorbic acid, rutin, and the other factors, were synergists: co-factors which together sparked the ‘functional interdependence of biologically related nutrient factors’.”

Supplements are Supplements

I was always puzzled when a patron would have a dilemma over the word “supplement” on their bottle of vitamins. “What does it mean supplement? I don’t want a supplement! I just want a multivitamin!” It was an alarmingly common question, so I stopped answering it directly. I would generally follow it as gracefully as I could with a, “What exactly do you think a supplement is supplementing?” That sentence would usually click for most people but sometimes people get confused about where supplementation fits in a balanced healthy lifestyle, so I was quick to politely remind them that whole food nutrition should always come first, supplements second. It was never my intention to be argumentative or “right”. I was just hoping to create a spark of awareness as to what exactly my customers were purchasing and why.

The nutrient richness of our food is greatly compromised these days. Many of our foods are grown in nutrient depleted soil, and some would hardly survive were it not for their GMO makeup. Unless you are growing your own, or strictly buying all organic products picked and purchased post haste, a high quality supplement can be a good thing to ensure you are getting what your body needs. Multivitamins were conceived to fill a deficit of improper nutrition. They are not supposed to be the answer to getting away with eating whatever processed or low nutrient dense food we wish without consequences (although they work excellently this way during holidays and vacation). A balanced diet rich in nutrient dense whole foods could eliminate the need for a multivitamin altogether.

Some of the healthiest food sources have relatively low milligrams of vitamins and minerals compared to the bulk of multivitamins available today. For example, there is only 120mg of vitamin C in a 100 gram serving of kale. Rice bran offers 4.07mg of B6 per 100 grams. A cup of raw spinach will yield 79mg of magnesium. These foods are the original source of our nourishment in its proper increments. Whole foods are better than any synthetic or isolated vitamin, any day. However, “low dose” whole food multivitamins are better than any “high potency” synthetic multivitamins, if you choose to take one. Don’t be fooled by the numbers game. With multivitamins, more milligrams is not always better.

Quality is crucial to getting the most out of your foods and supplements. Look for your goods as close to nature and away from processing as possible. When out shopping, avoid chemical names like palmitate, acetate or cyanocobalamin (which is literally cyanide bound to cobalt) on product labels with a cheaper price and ridiculously high potencies. A good place to start for multivitamin searching and education can be found on our website.

Or, if you can, eat your vitamins as food.

Additional references:

4 Tips for Kicking-Ass at Buying Supplements

By: Dara Horstkemper

Reading the labelIt wasn’t all that long ago that I believed I could walk into a health food or natural products store and just let my guard down.  I thought that within those 4 walls nature’s bounty abided without compromise and that every item met my natural standards and values.  I mean, they’re natural products in a store that’s all about “health” and “wellness”, so they must be natural right?  The truth is, no matter where you shop your options will consist of the good, the bad, and sometimes the downright ugly.  Due to a wide range of consumer demands and values, retailers do their best to offer a broad spectrum of products to meet those demands, be they ideal or less so. So whether you’re shopping at Walgreens, Publix, Whole Foods or the your local health food store, keep these 4 things in mind when venturing into the natural supplement aisle:

1. Remember that natural products retailers do not carry strictly natural products.

If you’re in the market for products that offer ingredients found in nature (why else would you be reading this killer blog?), you always have to read labels to identify the actually natural products you seek.  Not all supplements are created equal. In fact some have no business identifying with natural at all.  The good news is that there are some exceptionally great products on the market that really deliver ingredients that are wholesome and ecologically responsible.  The bad news is that they aren’t always easy to identify.  Marketing techniques and ambiguous language can be misleading and confuse even the best of us, making it difficult to distinguish these from the rest.  It’s for this reason that we created our Actually Natural, Nearly Natural & Hardly Natural certifications.  Our goal is to make it easier for you conscious shoppers out there to pick the good stuff.  In the end, though, it’s up to you to decide what products and companies you will support.

2. Don’t assume that because a brand has one actually natural product that all their other products are worth doing jumping jacks over.

It’s not uncommon for a brand to sell one or more products that are a true shining example of what a natural product should be, and then another product that is not much more than a toxic chemical party.  Take Buried Treasure brand, for example.  They distribute an amazing USDA Certified Organic liquid multivitamin for women and a totally synthetic crap one for kids. While it may be tempting to conclude that because you’ve found a proper product you’ve found a trustworthy brand, the best thing you could do is wipe the slate clean and start from scratch when moving on to find another type of product. Another thing to note is that not every brand offers a totally unique product. We sometimes imagine that all brands have their own little laboratories where they are working away at manufacturing our supplements for us. The fact is, most of the time a “brand” is just a bottler and distributor of someone else’s product technology and therefore major differences from product to product can and do occur.

Organic image

3. Learn what the different levels of Organic & Non-GMO standards are, decide which level floats your boat, and then go sailing!

I mean shopping…go shopping!  If you know that you want products that contain 100% or no less than 95% organic content, then look for items with the USDA Organic label (pictured right over there <—) to be sure.

For confirmation that a product contains 100% organic ingredients, look for an additional label specifying 100%, such as these:

Organic Stamp100-Percent-Organic-Label-300x300100%

Or it may simply be written on the label without a fancy design. While there are a number of organic labels out there, ONLY the USDA Organic label is used for 95-100% organic items!  All of the other logos or organic labels apply to products containing between 70-94% organic.  Like the other labels, if a product label states that it is “made with organic ingredients” this means that it contains organic goodness within that 70-94% range.  Any product containing less than 70% organic is welcome to specifically identify the organic ingredients on the ingredient label.

As far as Non-GMO labeling goes, keep in mind that products with the USDA certified organic label will be GMO free-to the extent that that is possible to know. The Non-GMO Project website states:

Unfortunately, “GMO free” and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology.  In addition, the risk of contamination to seeds, crops, ingredients and products is too high to reliably claim that a product is “GMO free.” The Project’s claim offers a true statement acknowledging the reality of contamination risk, but assuring the shopper that the product in question is in compliance with the Project’s rigorous standard. The website url is included as part of the Seal to ensure that there is transparency for consumers who want to learn more about our verification. While the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal is not a “GMO free” claim, it is trustworthy, defensible, transparent, and North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.”

Non-GMO Project SealSo in addition to the certified organic label, the Non-GMO Project verified seal guarantees that the product has undergone a 3rd party verification process of GMO contamination testing in products throughout the US and Canada.  To learn more about the seal visit

There are other GMO-free labels, and although The Project’s website claims that none of them are “legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology” as stated above, we have come upon the NFC’s recently released GMO Guard certification which may prove to be a viable alternative to The Project’s seal.  We don’t know too much about it yet, but we’ll be looking into it more deeply and keeping you posted on our findings.  In the meantime, you can learn more about it here:

4. Shop with your values in mind.

When it comes to the natural products you buy, what really matters to you?  Is your health your top priority?  What about the impact of products on the environment?  Do you wonder and care about where the money you spend on products ends up?  Figure out what matters most and seek products that live up to your values.  This can be challenging.  Sometimes a product is the best of its kind for your health and the environment but is offered by a company that is owned by a major corporation known for questionable and unsavory practices.  How do you feel about that?  Would you prefer to buy a product that is less natural but sold by a family owned and operated business, or is it more important to opt for the cleanest and most responsible?  And of course, there are occasions when you can “have it all”, but not always.  At Shop Conscious we do believe we vote with our dollars, and that what we demand is what the market produces.  It’s in our best interest to identify what is important to us and establish standards to shop by.  As always, we at Shop Conscious are here to help you along the way.


We don’t want to brag or anything, but…

By: Dara Horstkemper

SC Website

We’ve just revamped our website and, well, it’s looking pretty spectacular.  But please, don’t take my word for it!  Go on over and see for yourself.  We insist. Then head over to Facebook and “like” our page.  We’d hate for you to miss any of our  updates because it’s how we help you stay in the know about your products- the most important part of what we do!  We hope you enjoy the site and find many useful tidbits within its continually expanding pages.  We’d love to hear how we can do an even better job bringing you information that helps you to shop conscious.  You can share your thoughts with us here.


Sugar Alcohols- How sweet they aren’t

Cant stop sugar

By: Erin Valasek

I have a bit of a sweet tooth, it’s true. No matter how hard I try to cut back, or completely avoid, I cave. Repression always leads to excess, I say. And sugar is a staple of the American diet, so I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I even did a candida cleanse for a month without a single, solitary drop of sugar. And it wasn’t sheer will and determination that soldiered me through it either. I got to “cheat” through that amazingly, fun month with the help of stevia and sugar alcohols, namely xylitol and Reb A Stevia.

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Eco-target: A New Easy to Understand Eco-Education Tool

By: Cory Davis

All of us conscious shoppers out there take time to consider what’s inside a package before we pump it into our bellies or slather it on our face, but do we take the time to consider what’s on the  outside?  An old adage admonishes us that “it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside,” and while that may ring true for many circumstances, like with people, we like to believe that when it comes to consumables – both matter.  Take plastics for example.  Where would we be without them?  I would hate to even entertain that thought, okay just for a minute…. no compact discs?!  Impossible!  How would I get the latest One Direction album?!

one direction

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The Shop Conscious Mission (Video)

We at Shop Conscious are thrilled to share this video with you explaining who we are and what we do.  We hope it leaves you uplifted and inspired.

Early in the year Shop Conscious was just an idea.  Today we are a spirited, rapidly blossoming organization made up of passionate people who are rallying on the natural health industry leaders that are doing their best to operate in healthy and responsible ways, holding those who aren’t to a higher standard, and educating consumers on the products they buy, because we all have a right to know what we are buying.

To learn more about our team visit  “Who We Are” on

Introducing a new standard in natural: Actually Natural by Shop Conscious

Actually Natrual

It’s truly amazing what can be perpetrated as “natural” nowadays.  High-fructose corn syrup, GMO’s, natural flavors, modified starches, ethyl-esters, chemical pharma-vitamins, chemically extracted herbal products, and a whole host of “unnatural” baddies have barged into the market demanding that we believe their cleverly disguised marketing rouse because their label says so.  What exactly is “natural” anyway?  The FDA has no official definition of what ‘natural’ is, only a few things listed as what natural is not dated back to 1993. Even a natural-oriented organization like the NPA (Natural Products Association) only certifies products of a ‘Home Care or Personal Care’ nature.  The NPA seems to be attempting to nudge product manufacturers to add more nature-based chemicals to their products or replace as many problematic ingredients as possible, which is an effort worth the investment, but still includes things that are not strictly natural on their “Positive List” of ingredients such as ‘natural flavors’ and GMO plant-based byproducts.  I don’t know about you but I don’t consider anything derived from GMO crops as natural.  ‘Natural flavors’ can be just as chemically processed and complex as artificial flavors, the primary difference is that they originated from a food, which is apparently a definition really open to interpretation.  No not like strawberry natural flavor is a natural extract made from strawberries, the ‘food’ of origin is often corn and/or soybeans and/or bugs or evenbeaver anal glands.  Hmmm…natural? Continue reading

Empowering Consumers to Shop For Change in the Natural Products Industry

By: Dara Horstkemper

Consumer shopping

photo credit: Andresr Imaging

Last week an article popped up in my inbox.  Its title, ‘URGENT Action Alert! New Legislation Threatens Supplements!’, provoked little more than an eye-roll.  Really?  Is the Alliance for Natural Health truly convinced that legislators are the main threat to accessibility to safe, effective natural supplements?  The article itself pointed out that current laws already exist to prevent mislabeling of ingredients and making false claims but clearly, the laws do little to actually stop this from happening.  So is legislature even effective?  Arguably not.  The shelves of health food stores continue to be lined with bottle after bottle of unnatural, “natural” products.  Among them the rare gem of an actually natural supplement product designed to do what nature intended may or may not be present, seeing as how such a product comprises a mere fraction of the totality of supplements on today’s market. Continue reading