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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Sassafras Health Food Store: Helping the Community Get Healthy

May 31, 2016 09:35AM ● By Kate Hillenbrand

Paula Comstock

Located in the midst of charming, historic downtown White Bear Lake, among other health-conscious businesses, is Sassafras Health Foods, a 28-year-old business dedicated to providing education, health food, nutritional supplements and body care products to its patrons.

Paula Comstock, who has owned the store for nine years, studied nutritional medicine at Global College of Natural Medicine and is a board certified holistic health practitioner. Comstock is fulfilled when she can share her acquired knowledge with customers so they can initiate a discussion with their physician and make smart decisions about their health.

At times, the media reports trending and conflicting information about dietary supplements making it confusing or unclear what to take. Without professional guidance, it can be difficult to understand which products offer genuine health benefits or merely false promises, or worse, run the risk of actually damaging health.

Food is ideally the best way to obtain necessary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and Comstock and her staff will point out health-promoting foods, while supplementing can ensure optimum levels are reached for wellness.

“Education is a large part of what Sassafras is all about,” explains Comstock. “I attend product classes and keep up with the latest scientific studies and the growth of this industry.” She has traveled to Canada, Chicago, Florida, New Hampshire and New Zealand to visit facilities that create the nutritional needs for her customers. “If we don't have what you need, we will do the research and find it for you,” she states.

To the average person with even a rudimentary knowledge of nutritional supplements, walking down the aisle of a big box store can be overwhelming and isolating. At Sassafras, the atmosphere is welcoming and products are laid out by category so it’s easier to find things. With a team of four, there’s always a helpful staff person to answer questions or guide patrons to new supplements. Big proponents of research, the friendly staff will direct customers to sources in-store and online. There’s also a community area with local holistic practitioners’ business cards displayed.

“Even against their will, people are learning things,” explains Comstock. Between social media blasts and searching the internet, information is readily available, but it can be overwhelming and confusing. Sassafras has earned such a reputation that some open and aware doctors are sending patients there for the personal service. Many Sassafras customers are women at various stages from new motherhood to menopause.

Among the more than 3,500 products offered, a few of the more popular ones sought include probiotics and essential oils, and Comstock takes care to source the best. Veriditas Botanicals organic essential oils are from a local company that offers professional training every two months for Sassafras customers. Natural Factors food-based supplements, based in Canada, believes in sustainable farming of non-GMO plants without pesticides.

Educational classes with chiropractors and other practitioners are offered either in-store or at Kellerman Event Center. Recently, Sassafras hosted Jordan Rubin, an author and businessperson who healed himself of Crohn’s disease. Dr. Michael T. Murray, ND speaks often on natural approaches to health. He’s written 35 books and has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show.

Location: 2186 3rd St., White Bear Lake. Open 7 days. For more information, call 651-426-0101 or visit

Kate Hillenbrand is a freelance writer, certified holistic health coach and the owner of Gut Instincts by Kate.

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