Once upon a time in 2014, I stumbled into the Whole Foods homeopathic section and found myself surrounded by natural antidepressants, African healing soaps, and pills curing everything from bloating to night terrors. Overwhelmed by options, I took the Bill O'Reilly "F*ck it, we'll do it live!" approach and bought everything I could get my greasy little paws on and wrote about it.
This week I went back for round two. Over the course of seven days, I experimented with their potions and tonics and recorded my thoughts, feelings, and reactions in my secret journal.
When the week ended, I locked away my tonics and stuck them in a gargantuan warehouse à la the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, because I'm starting to get tired of this sh*t.
Herb Pharm Brain & Memory
Ingredients: Gotu Kola herb, gingko leaf, skullcap flowering herb, sage leaf, rosemary leaf.
Suggested Use: Add one dropper bulb two to three times daily for increased brain function, memory, and concentration.
Results: One of Gotu Kola herb’s main benefits is treating fatigue, which may explain why it got me so wired. I can see, in theory, how being hopped up on herbs can mimic a healthier brain—but I just felt too wired to think clearly. Plus, it tasted like an old plastic food. Shockingly, it's hard to think straight when you're a crazed, dry-heaving maniac.
Mother’s Lactation Tonic
Ingredients: Chaste tree berry, fenugreek seed, caraway seed, fennel seed, anise seed.
Suggested Use: Three or four times a day, take 30-40 drops in water.
Results: I really didn’t know what to expect from a tonic with such a specific name. I mean, I could only assume this stuff would replicate the nutrients taken in from mother’s milk—but after seeing the ingredients in the bottle were pretty much the same as those in absinthe, I found myself stuck. When researching chaste tree berry online, I found out that it can be used by women to alleviate PMS and symptoms of menopause. It also helps nervousness. Perhaps I was distracted by the delicious taste, but I felt a soothing calm wash over me after my second glass. This wins the award for the tastiest tonic on the list and actually goes really well with gin.
Scalp Nourishing Serum
Ingredients: Glycine soja, bean oil, cedrus atlantica essential oil, citrus grandis, cananga odorata, cymbopogon martinii, rosemary essential oil, tocopherol.
Suggested Use: By rubbing a small amount on my head every night, I was promised a softer scalp with the possibility of thicker, fuller hair.
Results: The issues I have with my hair mirror many of the larger issues plaguing third-world countries, so I was actually very excited to see if this serum would work. While my hair may have felt softer after a week, I noticed—upon closer inspection—I am still going bald as f*ck.
Smile’s Prid Homeopathic Salve
Ingredients: Carbolicum acidum, ichthammol, arnica montana, calendula, echinacea, sulphur, rosin, beeswax, petrolatum, stearyl alcohol, methyl, propylparaben.
Suggested Use: Temporary topical relief of pain and irritation associated with boils, minor skin eruptions and redness.
Results: While I couldn’t find even one stray boil on my body, I did have some minor redness all across my stomach from scratching during sleep. This is actually a true story—I scratch myself in my dreams—anyway, the salve reduced the inflammation and redness. Carbolicum acidum is actually known for its success with treating bee stings and eczema, so I’m not totally surprised it worked on my night terror scratches.
Herb Pharm Anxiety Soother
Ingredients: Kava rhizome, lateral root, passionflower herb, bacopa herb, Albizia stem bark, lavender flower.
Suggested Use: Take up to 40 drops in two ounces of water two to five times per day to soothe the nervous system.
Results: Unfortunately, the taste and look of this stuff made me a bit more anxious than I was hoping. Sitting on top of my water glass like an oil slick, the anxiety-soother actually ended up tasting pretty similar to what I thought an oil slick would taste like. I had taken bacopa during my last Whole Foods excursion and praised it for its ability to to help me think more clearly. However, the trace amount of the herb in this solution did nothing for me, and my panic attack continued uninterrupted.
Urban Moonshine Organic Energy Tonic
Ingredients: Water, organic alcohol, rhodiola root, eleuthero root, fo-ti root, American ginseng, hawthorn beer, leaf and flower, licorice root, cinnamon, Schisandra berry, ginger root.
Suggested Use: Spray in mouth and swallow up to five times a day for energy and vitality.
Results: There are some relatively legit ingredients in this little spray bottle: eleuthero is a Northeastern Asian root that has antidepressant effects. WebMD praises the root for its ability to aid in constipation, hair loss, high cholesterol, and tinnitus, and I actually did feel more alert after a few sprays in my mouth. However, it was alertness bordering on mania that made me want to swim laps and go on a riverboat gambling spree—not too dissimilar from how I feel every day.
Kate’s Magik Anointing Oils
Ingredients: Sweet almond oil, vitamin E, lavender oil, geranium oil.
Suggested Use: "Apply frequently, inhale, and visualize your intention."
Results: With the phrase “Break Patterns & Addictions” strewn across the bottle, I had to assume this “magik” oil would help me with my idiosyncratic foibles. With my major vices being tobacco, online shopping, and silicone vaginas, I hoped that bathing myself in this oil every night would break some of my more embarrassing pastimes. I didn’t smoke one cigarette throughout my slippery, oily week. I did buy an $11 used Palm Pilot from Amazon–but that’s unrelated.
Ingredients: Homeopathic medicine. Inactive Ingredients: sucrose, lactose.
Suggested Use: After some digging online, I found out that Sepia Officinalis is actually derived from cuttlefish ink. That might explain the vaguely fishy smell. Taking five small white pellets three times a day is supposed to help with mood swings.
Results: I didn’t have any mood swings during the week I took them, but I don’t usually have mood swings in general. I did, in the heat of the moment, wrestle a homeless man—but that was obviously a crime of passion.
Suggested Use: n/a
Results: Truth be told, I don’t think this stuff is a homeopathic remedy—I think I was just drawn in by the cute packaging. Hell, there wasn't even any information on the bottle. For all I know, it could be made of Everest sherpa sweat. A friend said it smelled amazing, “like laundry...or linens." I think it goes without saying that the Himalayan Musk was the overall winner.