Nyack Sketch Log: Sage’s Herbal Apothecary

by Bill Batson

According to Sarah Bergmann, “An apothecary is a callback to a more natural holistic approach to medicine and lifestyles. Think of the stories once told of how ‘grandma’ use to cure a sore throat, or how ‘your great grandparents’ use to have this balm that relieved the pain so easily.”

Her answer to that call, Sage’s Herbal Apothecary,  fits as seamlessly into the zeitgeist of Nyack as the popular antique store that occupied their South Broadway address for decades, Christopher’s, once did.

Learn about the story of how urgency to find holistic remedies created one of Nyack’s newest small businesses and meet the Apothecary’s name sake, Sage.

Leah St. George and her niece, Sage.

Who is Sage?

Sage is the daughter of two of the owners, Sarah and Will Bergmann and niece to the third, Leah St George.

What’s the difference between a pharmacy and apothecary?

Pharmacies are more known in today’s society for providing specially prescribed medicines which are prepared by pharmacists.  While some pharmacies might offer some natural remedies, those are quite few and far between.

An apothecary traditionally carries organic herbs & spices to use in cooking, making herbal remedies, and even taken in tea forms to help with everything from muscle pains to stress to illnesses.

Whereas pharmacies usually feature a pharmacist that fulfills a doctor’s prescription, an apothecary would normally be host to an herbalist that can assist with suggesting and making custom remedies from syrups to salves and much more.

How did the idea for Sage’s emerge?

In our search for natural remedies we often found ourselves traveling to many places outside of Nyack, and we felt there was almost a calling for an herbal shop to be find a home in the Nyack area.  We wanted to provide a safe and trusted space for our local community to find natural products that they can trust as well as help to educate our local communities on living healthier lives through raw natural herbal remedies.

When did you become interested in holistic remedies?

About 15 years ago, Sarah started her journey on using more all-natural products when pharmaceuticals were no longer working well for skin care use or for illness.  Once starting to look into pharmaceuticals and their goal, it became more obvious that the medicines where only attempting to replicate the healing effects of herbal remedies.

Sarah Bergman and Sage

Have you had personal need for any of the alternative health and wellness products that you provide?

In the beginning of Sarah’s journey, she had chronic stomach and gut issues as well as skin related issues.  Like most people, she visited a Doctor’s office and was prescribed various medicines to help cure and treat her.  The issue was that the medicine was not working and in fact sometimes made things worse.  When she first tried to use a more natural approach with herbal remedies and changes to her diet, she noticed the symptoms were going away and her skin started to become much healthier.  With these changes and using more natural remedies, she also happened to notice her anxiety and stress levels were improving and her energy levels increasing.  Since then our go to has been a combination of herbal remedies or homeopathic remedies to help keep our bodies strong and healthy.

Who are your customers?

We see a wide variety of people that patronize our store, from local community members searching for an all-natural remedy to the person visiting our town on a weekend getaway.  People come in our store with a wide range of knowledge about herbs and natural medicine.  Some know exactly which herbs and spices they are looking for while others look to us for assistance and guidance.

What are some of the maladies that your products address?

Some of the maladies that our products address and support are healing various bacterial and viral infections, different types of skin conditions like eczema, sleeping issues, gut and digestive problems, allergies, and simple first aide like scrapes and cuts to name but a few.

Who prepares your remedies?

Sarah, who is our certified herbalist, formulates our herbal remedies and skin care products.  She can also help create custom remedies for individuals after having consultations with them to learn more about their medical history.

Where do you get your ingredients from?

We source our ingredients for the herbs, spices, and teas mostly from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They are based in Oregon and work with various farmers to help ensure that the herbs, spices, and oils being produces are done so in a sustainable and organic nature.  They have a very high standard when it comes to ensuring the quality of the products they sell and are trusted by many herbalists and individuals who search for natural organic herbs and spices.

What are some of your most popular products?

While it’s hard to say which loose herbs and spices people love the most, we can note some of the more popular items that we make using them.

Some of the more popular items are our raw skin care like our Calendula Witch Hazel and our Honey Cleanser which is great for clearing up all types of skin conditions. While we offer over 50 different herbal tinctures, our more popular ones are Passionflower, Elderberry, California Poppy, Calendula, and Hops which can aide with things from sleeping to digestive to fending off colds & flu. Our Eczema salve and Mugwort salve are also very popular and help with skin conditions and muscle soreness. For our tea blends, the Let’s Relax Tea blend is one of our most popular which helps with sleeping.  Our Immune Boosting and our Help My Tummy Tea are also popular among our patrons.

How do tinctures’ work?

Tinctures work by using a solvent which is a substance that dissolves a solute which are the medicinal constituents within the plant. The solvent used is called a menstruum. The different types of solvents used in making tinctures are alcohol, vinegar and glycerin. Some solvents extract more medicinal constituents than others. At Sage’s we use an organic, non-gmo, corn-based alcohol to extract a large number of medicinal constituents from the herbs. What is great about tinctures’ is that you can take less of it than if you needed to consume a tea. Tinctures have a long shelf life versus a tea, a large portion of constituents are very soluble in alcohol, they can maintain their potency for many years, convenient to travel with, easier to monitor dosage, helpful when needing to take herbs that are not pleasant tasting.

Rockland Community College Occupational Therapy students and the Center for Safety and Change were at Sage’s on Sunday, Nov. 10 to raise money to donate self-care items for survivors of domestic violence.

Are tinctures better than pills and syrups?

Everyone is different and can require different ways to consume an herbal remedy. For a lot of people tinctures are more convenient which means the person is more likely to consume the medicine than if they had a tea. Herbal capsules can be helpful when taking certain herbs but not all herbs will work well in capsule form because of the way your body processes and absorbs it. Syrups can also be effective for some but there are a lot of people who cannot consume sugars, even natural sugars. Also, not all herbs are highly effective in a syrup form. Tinctures and teas are the most common and more potent ways that people consume medicinal herbs. The best way to consume an herbal medicine would be to use a tincture or tea or have a consultation with a certified herbalist.

Will Bergmann, Sarah Bergmann and Leah St George

What is fire cider?

Fire Cider is an herbal tonic that is made from food and medicinal herbs. Raw apple cider vinegar is traditionally used as the base because it is a great solvent and good at extracting large portions of medicinal constituents and minerals. These solutions can help ward off colds and flu, boost the immune system, overcome an illness more quickly, feed intestinal flora which provides great support for the gut, helpful with heart burn, and fungal infections. It can be taken alone or used with food. Fire Cider typically contains hot or warm foods such as onion, garlic, horseradish, rosemary and spicy peppers.

What are some of the benefits of aroma therapy?

Applied topically it can to help relieve pain, inflammation, antibacterial and antifungal skin conditions plus more. When used aromatically through a diffuser or tissue it can also help to calm, uplift and even energize people. Aromatherapy is also used to help conditions such as depression, anxiety and those who are grieving. Certain oils and oil blends when used appropriately can even help to ward off viral and bacterial illnesses. Essential oils are extremely potent and need to be used with care when using them for medicinal purposes like getting rid of a rash or treating a topical infection. Getting advice on using essential oils for medicinal purposes comes best from experienced well-educated certified herbalists, certified aromatherapists, and those certified in aromatic medicine.

What are some of the in-store events you have coming up?

Coming up we have an Aromatherapy event and our Herb of the Month club event featuring Chaga Mushrooms and hot cocoa in November and a Sweet Hormone Balance in December.

What’s next for Sage’s

Up next we will be looking to host more events to help educate the local communities about different benefits of herbal medicines and truly all-natural products.  One thing we often times find pride in is knowing exactly what went into each item made and confidently saying they are free of chemicals and harsh toxins.

Will Bergmann and Sage

Wasn’t your space formerly Christophers?

Yes, our store was previously home to Christophers. While the inside of the building may have been remodeled, we loved that the old exposed brick wall remained.

Any lingering vibe from all the antique, objects d’art and flowers?

We would say the brick wall still holds some of the Christophers essence as well as the artists we have been lucky enough to showcase in our store. Currently we are featuring Jackie Fiore’s artwork through the end of the year.

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Sage’s Herbal Apothecary” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

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