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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Safety First at Johnson Compounding and Wellness

Aug 31, 2020 09:26AM ● By Nancy Somera
At the very beginning of the pandemic, Johnson Compounding and Wellness (JCW), in Waltham, made swift adjustments in how it conducted its day-to-day business because as Dr. Gary Kracoff, who is a registered pharmacist with a degree in naturopathic medicine, states, “Protecting customers and staff is most important in lieu of profit.” Even before a quarantine was ordered by the state, JCW made the decision to restrict customers from entering the store, instead using video chat, personal shoppers and curbside pick-up to service its clientele. A double-shift schedule allowed for safe distancing between staff members, especially in the compounding pharmacy where prescriptions are formulated without preservatives and other artificial additives to meet a client’s specific dosing needs. Additionally, consultations and monthly lectures all went virtual.

Now that communities are moving through re-opening phases, JCW is continuing with curbside pick-up and allowing 10 customers at a time to come inside as long as they wear a mask, use hand sanitizer upon entering and only handle products that they plan to purchase. Through it all, customers’ needs have continued to be met. “Everyone has had to chip in,” explains Kracoff, and while it hasn’t been ideal, “you do it because you care about yourself, families, co-workers and customers.”

Back to School

While Kracoff commends Massachusetts on the job it has done in response to SARS-CoV-2, he predicts a surge when colleges, universities and schools start up again, which is why it’s more important than ever for students—and parents Kracoff points out—to support their immune systems. “Kids aren’t immune as we are finding out, and they can pass infection along to parents, grandparents and teachers.” He offers some preventative, immune-boosting, back-to-school tips:

Routinely scrub hands, making sure to get under the nails, for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Parents need to explain and educate their children, but most importantly lead by example. “Kids react by watching parents,” he says. He likens it to wearing a helmet while riding a bike, explaining, “Parents who don’t wear a helmet while demanding their child does is only teaching them that after age 12 a helmet isn’t needed for safe riding.”

Social distance while at school. “This will be difficult for adolescents, especially when you factor in peer pressure,” Kracoff shares. Explain to younger children why they won’t be able to share some things at school, like LEGOs, even though they can share them at home.

Ask schools what supplies, such as hand sanitizer and wipes, are needed, and continue to ask throughout the school year. Donate what is actually needed at the time.

Eat a good diet and exercise daily, preferably in the fresh air.

Get a dose of daily vitamin D. “Sunshine is healthy because it helps make vitamin D,” Kracoff explains, “but it can cause skin cancer, too.” He recommends either getting 20 to 30 minutes of early morning sun without sunscreen when the UV index is at its lowest or supplementing with vitamin D3. Having levels checked by a doctor leads to exact dosage needed, but children can start at 400IU and many practitioners recommend 1,000 to 5,000 IU per day for adults).

Other suggested supplements include, vitamin C (500 mg for children/1,000 to 3,000 mg for adults per day) and quercetin (250 mg to 500 mg twice a day) with zinc (30 mg to 50 mg for adults per day).

Silver Linings

“Every other generation has had a pandemic,” says Kracoff, who is seeing a silver lining for families that have become increasingly overbooked and time-stressed over recent years. “For the first time, this generation has families home together for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and people are enjoying the slower pace and more time together as a family.” Spending more time together as a family improves mental health in children, helps them perform well academically, lowers risk of behavioral problems and boosts self-confidence.

The pandemic is far from over, so Kracoff encourages everyone to continue to be diligent. “People are becoming desensitized to COVID-19 and are letting their guard down. The best chance of not getting it is to limit your exposure and keep using all the tools in your toolbox.”

Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center is located at 577 Main St., Waltham. For more information, call 781-893-3870 ext. 2 or visit

Nancy Somera is the managing editor for Natural Awakenings Boston.