The Middle Path of Wellness

If you’re familiar with Woodstock Vitamins you know we have strong roots to both the traditional medicine and natural supplement worlds. I’m a pharmacist. In our apothecary on Tinker Street in the heart of Woodstock—the epicenter of health and vitality—we use rigorous criteria to weigh the balance between the two sides of the healthcare spectrum.

In a culture that is exceedingly polarized—for or against nearly everything, including medicine and supplements—we’ve found a middle road that bridges the gap and helps us vouch for both. 

Navigating towards health can be tricky. Both sides of the spectrum often seem suspect, especially in today’s constantly changing healthcare landscape. Our goal is to weed through all of the misinformation, study our options, test products according to stringent criteria, quell confusion, and guide our customers to better health.

Traditional Medicine vs. Natural Supplements

So here’s what’s happening: 

Traditional medicine is expensive, prescribed most often only after you’re “sick,” and comes with long warning labels. Cue the halftime commercial of the guy in the bathtub smiling with satisfaction as an overdubbed list of side effects drones on: anxiety, sleeplessness, dizziness, vomiting, heart palpitations, psychosis…. It’s enough to fill anyone with fear, doubt, and distrust.

It’s easy to demonize medicine, and to look to natural supplements to solve all our problems. It makes sense; people want to feel empowered, autonomous, and more responsible for their healthcare decisions. They believe supplements are safer, better, and higher quality. At least they hope so. Natural—the very word connotes life, itself.

Here’s what’s real:

1. Medicines work. They’re not the demons most think they are. Rather, they are highly effective in treating and preventing disease. Each drug is tested extremely rigorously, and there is data to support it. Of course, there are liabilities—there are flaws in every system—but we need not throw the baby out with the bathwater. For certain diseases, only medication will help. (Side effects aren’t as common as all their airtime would seem to have us believe.) 

2. Natural products are not the angels people make them out to be. This industry is a billion-dollar business, too, but it’s weakly regulated and does not have enough resources to enforce any sort of quality standards or manufacturing processes (i.e. products may not be absorbable, or have any active ingredients, or even be made of what they claim to be made of). Case in point: big pharma is a supplier of raw materials for a majority of “natural” supplements. Did you know that many well-known brands claiming to be raw, whole food, or food-based are actually the opposite—made of synthetic isolated chemicals?

The touted benefits of these so-called natural supplements come wrapped in a fluffy layer of wishful thinking. Proof is in the pudding, people say, but for the most part it’s just in their heads.

Woodstock Vitamin’s Middle Path

Woodstock Vitamins is better than that.

Our work is redefining both industries and walking a middle path between the two. High standards lead to common ground. At Woodstock Vitamins, we acknowledge that medicines can and do work safely. There’s no question of that. With rigorous research, stringent criteria, and a penchant for skepticism, we put natural supplements to the test, and hold them accountable. When we find brands that live up to our standards, we vouch for those products. These are the supplements we sell on our shelves, deemed Vitality Approved—our seal of approval.

Often, health problems can be resolved by shifting our focus from treating disease to preventing it. We aim to prevent the need for medications by first encouraging our customers to use real foods to create optimal health in the body, and then, when appropriate, using natural products to supplement lifestyle choices. If medicine is necessary, patients must be made aware of the liabilities and take steps to minimize them.

Through consultation, we determine, on a case by case basis, what’s best for our customers—medicine, supplements, or both. At Woodstock Vitamins, health is not an either/or scenario. It’s much more complicated than that. That’s why you need trusted experts like us guiding you through the terrain. “There’s gold in them hills”—on both sides. We know where to find it and how to meld it together for the greater good. 

Just trying to keep it real…

Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth

Dr. Neal Smoller, Holistic Pharmacist

About Neal Smoller

Dr. Neal Smoller, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist: and owner of Village Apothecary, an independent pharmacy in the most famous small town in America—Woodstock, NY. He’s also the host of the popular wellness podcast, The Big Mouth Pharmacist.”


The Vital 5

Nutrients you shouldn’t live without
The Vital 5 Nutrients You Shouldn't Live Without