Alchemy in Santa Barbara with Sun Potion
I am writing this fresh off my day trip to Santa Barbara where I visited Scott and Nitsa, the owners of Sun Potion. Over the past several months, I have been collecting their entire line of superfood and tonic herb products. When friends come over to visit, they are always intrigued and delighted when I make them a tonic. I committed to using a little bit of these herbs each day and to learning about the properties of each plant so that I could get the full experience. I can fervently say that I feel the best that I have ever felt. For those that know me, my immune system was severely compromised when I came down with Epstein-Barr in 2012. The stories of what happened to my body were quite horrific but it forced me to build up my immune system. A little over two years later, I can't believe how strong my body feels and how I don't get sick when I am around others who are. It's amazing. These herbs are subtle and they help to keep my body in balance.
Walking in Scott and Nita's house, I am reminded of folk tales of witch doctors, alchemists and ancient medicine people. There are ball jars filled with exotic ingredients and hand written labels. Their space is clean, bright, and everywhere you look there is a crystal. I love these two because they are successful business owners but take so much pride and joy in the quality of their product that is helping to improve the lives and health of others. In the interview you will learn all about them and properties of their products but you can always find more on their website. I can't wait for others to feel their bodies at the next level. Welcome to Sun Potion.
Q+A with Nitsa and Scott from Sun Potion
Q: What is Sun Potion’s mission and how did the company come into existence?
S: Sun Potion is the culmination of seemingly random paths of study including Daoist Alchemy, Essential Oils, Rolfing, Tantra, Naturalism, which came together and was launched at the onset of 2011. Our mission is to empower others to feel great in their body.
N: (The Long Story) Scott (my partner & fiancé) created the company 4 years ago. He was living and working in Ojai, CA as a Rolfer (Structural Integration) and began to incorporate superfoods and herbs into his practice. Both he and his clients experienced significantly positive shifts in their health with the inclusion of these foods in their diet and the demand for more access to these foods ultimately inspired the company. His first products were organic Chlorella, Mucuna Pruriens, and Shilajit. A little over two years ago, when Scott was struggling with some of the design and branding aspects, I took a more serious role in the company, which are more of my strengths. It has been quite the adventure working with my beloved and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. My intention as Creative Director of Sun Potion is to develop a language of health, beauty and transformation that can be expressed and experienced by as many people as possible. Neither of us have a degree in business but we share a love for humanity and commitment to the highest quality in sources. I feel that this love as well as the magical properties of the herbs themselves have carried us through the evolution of the company.
Q: Could you list (a few ) of your products that you currently sell and maybe one benefit per each?
- ASHITABA ~ a type of angelica with origins in traditional Japanese Folk Medicine. I love the Ashitaba because it is a rare plant-based, whole food source of B6 and B12 vitamins ~ and improves energy levels, mood, skin, and digestive health in a major way. It is also a great food for nourishing blood which is especially important for woman.
- REISHI MUSHROOM ~ we call the "Queen Healer mushroom " and was traditionally used in Oriental and Eastern Folk Medicine to "Nourish the Heart and Pacify the Spirit ". Reishi is one of the most highly revered and mystical foods in Daoist tonic Herbalism and is currently being studied in modern medicine for its highly protective, immune-system fortifying, and stress-relieving properties.
- PINE POLLEN ~ my current favorite ~ has been reputed as an aphrodisiac and longevity food in ancient Egypt, China, Russia, Japan, even Native American cultures. I eat it by the spoonful when I am on a deadline or doing a lot of focused, creative-mind work. It is incredibly nutrient-rich and contains over twenty amino acids and all eight essential amino acids (hello bio-available protein / brain food!). It is also considered an adaptogen, meaning it helps the system respond to stress with healthy resilience. It raises the body's level of SOD- Super Oxide Dismutase (an enzyme which clears free radicals) and when taken over a lifetime may support longevity and immunity.
Q: What is a great superfood/ how much to start with if you are a newbie?
N: Anandamide is an excellent start, perhaps as a replacement / enhancement to coffee. It is our signature blend of raw, organic, Heirloom Cacao. It contains almost a dozen herbs from the line and supports a sense of well being, mental clarity, and pleasure. I like to blend 1-2tbs in raw milk of choice and enjoy it as a warm or cool chocolate drink. I actually created the recipe in a dream where I believe I was trying to find a solution for group of people who were not taking their herbs because they did not know how.
Q: What does Sun Potion stand for?
S: Sun Potion is a universal call for human evolution, embodiment, and ascension. The winged Sun disk which is a universal symbol for transformation and the human experience, of changing the body's density and becoming like sun.
Q: What is your definition of a tonic?
A: TONIC= plant intelligence that brings the body into more equilibrium, balance, and adaptability. These special plants have dual directional, somewhat amorphous properties, and are usually best taken in small, regular servings, over a long period of time. They are considered preventative, and are not usually taken to resolve specific "problems" or symptoms. In my opinion, Tonic Herbs and Tonifying Foods are the way of the current and future, dynamically improving the health of people all around the world.
Q: How did you come up with the packaging and what does it symbolize?
S: Years before starting sun potion I kept a regular meditation practice. I repeatedly asked the universe to reveal my higher path of service. Jump forward to when I realized I wanted to create something with Superfoods and Tonic herbs, the name and packaging came very quick. I was brainstorming names with some friends in Ojai and then suddenly the words "Sun Potion" came in. I immediately got the vision for the Egyptian Wings. The Winged Sun Disc is literally a symbol for transfiguring the body from density to light, becoming like the Sun, and being able to hold the creational aspects of the Divine. All of that, in the body...a shift into levity, higher frequency, and ultimately feeling great! That is how Sun Potion Transformation Foods came through.
Q: What got you interested in using “super foods”?
N: I consider myself lucky to have been raised by two very health-conscious parents who emphasized the importance of a plant-based, organic, whole-food diet from the beginning. I was never given any flu-shots and learned to be very sneaky about having refined sugar of any form in the house. However, while my physical health has always been strong I have struggled with a sensitive nervous system and this ultimately led me on the journey to understand the healing properties of foods. Learning about and taking tonic herbs and superfood like Reishi Mushroom, Mucuna Pruriens, and Ashwagandha on a regular basis have been instrumental for me in balancing anxiety and depression. I also credit Chlorella and Ashitaba for nursing me back to health after a traumatic experience that set my digestive system off to the extent that I could not take in much food. Infinite gratitude for these plants.
Q: How to provide quality control for all of your products?
A: Sun Potion offers what we consider to be the best quality plant materials available on the market today. We are grateful to the small group of provider labs we have brought into the Sun Potion line; without their creations, we would not be able to make such a claim. There's a lot to be said for color, flavor, smell, and other qualities that can be experienced through refined senses. Each batch of material is reviewed by Scott to meet his preference standards. On a logistical level, it's a lot more involved than that: 1.) provider lab sends bulk material, accompanied by a full chemical certificate of analysis; 2.) The material is moved to our nutraceutical lab where it goes into quarantine until we run a repeat of this analysis at an independent testing firm. When the material passes, it is released from quarantine and goes through packaging to be put into the jars. 3.) First, middle, and last batch samples are taken from the packaging run, and are then re-tested before the finished jars are eventually released to us. Before it gets to our warehouse, every batch of material has been tested for toxins, impurities, and standardized efficacy, three times. We are operating at the highest level of FDA compliance for handling and packaging food based dietary supplements. This is something we are proud of and has taken a lot of work to get to. It's worth it because we are able to fully stand behind what we are offering.
Q: What inspires you and your company?
N: Beauty, Nature, the sensation of feeling alive and open in the body, mind, and heart. Also intentionality in design, art, sustainable food systems, photography, natural fiber clothing. The sensation of appreciating the details AND the larger picture. I could go on and on. I am inspired by almost everything.
Q: Who are some of your favorite bloggers/ instagrammers who use your product?
A: Lacy Phillips of FREE + NATIVE. The Rose Journals. Super Food Super Life (Alexa!). My dear friend and collaborator Greg Arnold (@ofaire). our friends Justin and Megan who are the creators of CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE (our favorite online magazine). Stephen and Tracy McCarty (@prismofthreads @stephenmccarty) and Julia Corbett , creator of Diviana Alchemy and raw desert chef extraordinaire.
Q: What are your top 3 health tips?
N: 1. Learn and get the right amount of sleep for your system.
2. Take Pleasure in Nourishment.
S: Gratitude is King when it comes to a life full of health. Eat Tonic Herbs every day. Learn to Love and be Kind.
Q: What is your philosophy on healing?
S: If not addressed, a problem with the spiritual body will become a problem with the emotional body, and then a problem with the mental body, and eventually a problem with the physical body. Problems move into layers of greater density if they are not resolved in the lighter ones. If we pay attention to and take care of our different bodies, it becomes easier to trace back to the root of a problem and take steps to heal it. One of the most beautiful experiences I've had making tonic herbs a part of my life, has been an introduction and familiarity with the subtle, less dense parts of myself. I really feel like these plants are a ticket to help wake us up to our intuitive gifts and latent potentials and sensitivities.
N: Healing begins within.
Q: What are some of your daily rituals/ what superfoods do you like to have every day?
S: I love waking Nitsa up in the Morning. Although I am learning to be more subdued in my excitement, this is definitely my first daily ritual. After that comes Tea. She is my second Love. Making tea in a patient, appreciative way, is among my favorite actions in any given day. After some rounds of tea, I get into the herbs. My favorites to combine with tea are Mucuna, Astragalus, and He Shou Wu. I pretty much eat these three every day. I don't know how to describe how much I appreciate these plants. They have subtle and profound affects on my day. Eating them, I feel more open and more powerful. I am sure I have at least one great idea a day because of them. My imagination is super strong. Also, I am sure it is easier for me to bring this imagination into form because of these plants. They nourish me. They help me live a life I am happy to be a part of. Writing this interview is helping me put to words how fortunate I am to be able to eat these foods everyday.
N: Ashitaba, Reishi, and Tocos in my morning tea every day. Organic pressed Green Juice form Ascending Health Juicery.
Q: What’s the best product for anxiety/stress/ staying calm?
A: N: Honestly I have to narrow it down to two products. The first world be MUCUNA PRURIENS which we call the "dopamine bean" because th powder is standardized at 15% L-Dopa which is a precursor to Dopamine. It's a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure, motivation, arousal. I tend to take for more external moments such as social or professional interactions when presence and high-performance are required. When I am at home and able drop into my internal state, I reach for the Ashwagandha as it is deeply soothing for the nerves, hormones, and is full of antioxidants.
Q: What are some of your favorite ways to unwind?
A: N: Infrared Sauna.
Q: What can’t you live without?
N: TOCOS + Clean Water. We live in Santa Barbara and have a water delivery service from Real H20. We also transport Ojai Spring water from Ojai to home whenever possible. I also am very partial to Evan Healy's Imortelle hydrosol. I keep a bottle in my purse at all times.
S: Oxygen, Plants, Clean Water, the ability to Love, and an appreciation for what's around me.
Q: What’s an easy skin recipe?
N: Clarifying Face Mask: equal parts activated charcoal, sun potion ashitaba, chlorella, and bentonite clay. Blend the powders with organic rose water and apply to skin. I like to leave on for 15-20 min - which pulls out impurities, minimizes pores, and reduces any heat or inflammation. If I have the time I will follow with a raw honey and shea butter mask to fully hydrate and tone the skin.
Q: What is your go-to smoothie?
N: In all honesty, I do not eat much fruit these days and If I do I will enjoy them on their own. In the Winter I try to eat less sweet and cold cooling foods. My smoothies have morphed more into these warm "Potions" which consist of a handful of tonic herbs, a warm herbal tea base (I tend to use gynostemma, tulsi, rose, and sometimes yerba matte if i need the extra kick) and a creamy liquid raw almond, hempseed, or coconut milk, raw cream). I place all of these ingredients into the blender and give them a few pulses until the mixture is steamy and frothy et - voila! an herbal potion!
S: I lived through a period of what I called "dirt smoothies" with lots of complex formulations and combinations of fruits and superfoods. Eventually it became too much. At some point I got the hit that I had "graduated from smoothies", and it was then that I became totally intrigued by single ingredient, best quality, tonic herb extract powders, added to tea. Nitsa will also make me a special warm potion in the Vitamix. These combinations are simple and allow me to appreciate the flavors and sensations of each ingredient. This is where I've been with the herbs for the last few years. Smoothies were a great gateway for me, yet I don't remember the last time I made one.
Q: Tell us a fun fact or interesting story/mythology about one of your products?
A: Pine Pollen. It is an amazing food. Pine trees, especially the cones, have been revered in cultures across the globe for ages for medicinal and mystical reasons and show up often in ancient art and sculptures. We are especially keen on the cones as they are a key symbol in Egyptian and Sumerian Mythology. The legendary staff of Osiris (God of the underworld) contains a cone at its head. It is said this pine cone represents among many things including the pineal gland in the human brain. This gland produces melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and photoperiodic (seasonal) functionss an is associated with the " Third Eye " (the seer of intuition, inner vision, other worlds, etc.). There are also quite a few studies on the pine cone's geometrical shape and patterns linking with the fibonacci sequence.
Q: What does Di Tao mean?
A: Region of Origin. In Chinese Tonic Herbalism the native environment of a plant is considered of great medicinal value.
Q: How potent are your herbs? How do we understand potency numbers?
S: The most important thing to remember when serving these herbs, is that most of them actually work best when taken in small, regular servings, over a long period of time. By small, I mean 1/2 to 1 teaspoon serving per day. For the most part, their action is to titrate information into the body, creating a carrier wave of powerful health. Taking a tablespoon of Reishi from time to time is nowhere near as effective as a teaspoon a day, consistently. That being said, the concentration of active constituents in Sun Potion products are considered strong by most measures. It would be a long description to cover the whole topic. The best summary I can give, is that these are extract powders, prepared from very high quality plant materials. Some of them are cold water extracts, some are employ sound frequency to shatter their cell walls, some have a standardized % of active ingredient, some are 10:1 concentration powders.
Q: Could you tell us more about what you do with the Wildize Foundation and other ways you give back?
N: Wildize is an African Conservation organization which we have partnered with in the past in sourcing our shea butter from small, wild-harvesting communities. This year we are also pleased to be a sponsor of the Spirit Weaver's Gathering, an event for Women's enrichment and skill sharing, which I am really excited to attend. Additionally we donate to local community projects and events throughout the year.
Q: What are some foods you stay away from?
S: Who am I to say? I am a big fan of people listening to their own body, and acting as their own informed authority.
N: I try to avoid refined sugar + GMO s at all costs.
Q: What is your grand vision for Sun Potion?
S: Sun Potion offers a curated collection of some of my favorite herbs and plants. It acts as a vehicle to bring these plants into relationship with each of our customers. These plants are helpful to the humans they interact with. Sun Potion will grow to bring more loved aspects of a life well lived into relationship with the people it serves. This year, we are releasing some natural fiber garments within the brand. Wearing naturally dyed, consciously sourced and organic fabrics is a whole other conversation about falling in love with the body. I could go way into it, but for now, I'll just say that Sun Potion was created as a way of being of service and it acts as a conduit for the things that I love to help improve other people's lives. As this trend continues, I can only imagine where it will lead.
Nita's Afternoon Tonic
1 teaspoon Ashitaba
1 teaspoon Reishi
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon He Shou Wu
1 teaspoon Prash
1 Gynostemma tea bag (make 2 cups)
1 cup Sun tea (yerba matte)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
A splash of Coconut/ Almond milk blend from Juice Ranch
Dash of sea salt
1. Warm up water and brew Gynostemma.
2. In a blender combine all the ingredients above and blend well until frothy.
3. Serve warm and enjoy with friends!