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Owners of Rhizome Apothecary, Clare Anderson and Ash Koehnke. Photo by Carolyn Jaime

Shop Talk: Rhizome Apothecary

This new Sunnyside shop is chock-full of holistic and plant-based expertise, products, and processes to keep you and your family healthy.

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In an era where everything from a bag of groceries to a first date is readily available at our fingertips, one thing has yet to be obtained with a click or a swipe: our health. Things like getting in shape or defeating a nasty cold don’t simply happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and dedication to maintain a healthy lifestyle, much like cultivating a garden. It’s no surprise then that many people are turning to plants—the ancient foundation of healing—to aid relief from common ailments and irritations.

At Rhizome Apothecary, which opened its floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the flourishing Sunnyside neighborhood in September, owners Clare Anderson and Ash Koehnke decided that an education in herbalism would nicely complement their growing collection of holistic wellness certifications that between the two of them already included yoga, Thai massage, astrology, permaculture, and nutrition. Self-described “education junkies,” it was this shared passion for healing and knowledge that inspired the birth of the apothecary shortly after the women met in herbalism school. The shop’s name refers to the term used to describe the root system of certain organisms that spread and recreate themselves time and again (think how mint takes over entire yards, or how Aspen trees grow in clusters), and the owners’ favorite Instagram, #reclaimyourroots, calls attention to the under-valued notion of using plants for healing.

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“We just wanted to make herbs more available,” says Anderson. “Herbs are the foundation of everything, and they can show up in your life in so many different ways. Whether you’re trying to fix your diet or treat anxiety or just trying to be healthier in some way, there’s usually an herb to support that.”

A moody-hued wall showcasing clear jars of herbs for use in tea infusions, tinctures, poultices, salves, bath salts, and smoke blends is a striking focal point of the cozy, modern space. The shop functions like a community center, where people are encouraged to gather together around a long, wooden table—artfully scattered with chic, copper French presses infusing herbal teas and an array of inspirational books—for workshops, astrology readings, and wellness consultations, which provide a holistic assessment of a person’s lifestyle and offer recommendations about how herbs might help support one’s wellness goals.

“We’re not just slinging herbs,” Koehnke jokes. “We want to provide a broader scope for health and wellness by educating about how organic, non-toxic plants can really help nourish you. My favorite thing in the whole world is when I give someone a tea or a tincture, and they come back in a month later saying their life has been changed. It’s great to see people become believers.”

In addition to custom herb blends to support a range of issues, from asthma to anxiety, the store features an array of organic, non-toxic, chemical-free skincare products, including Colorado brands like Osmia Organics, Whole Apothecary, Root Foot and Little Herbal Apothecary. Osmia Organics, which is based in Carbondale, is especially popular for its high-quality facial oils and serums. Their Black Clay Facial Soap was created specifically to target problems caused by Perioral dermatitis, a skin condition that Anderson herself has struggled with in the past.

“Bringing in Osmia has been huge for the community,” says Anderson. “We’ve had a lot of people entirely ditch their old skincare routine for this line. A lot of the herbs they use are grown right on the owner’s farm, which is completely organic.”

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People also flock to the apothecary to get their hands on Sun Potion, a potent superfood in powder form that can be stirred into smoothies, oatmeal, or even tea or coffee. Rhizome is currently the only place in Denver where Sun Potion can be found, as the California-based company is highly particular about how and where its products are sold.

“Clare pulled Sun Potion in because of her nutritional knowledge, and we feel really honored to be able to carry it,” Koehnke says. “The intentions they carry with their company align really well with what we hope to do here at Rhizome. We try to make it so plants can adapt to your life, instead of the other way around. If you’re a busy guy or gal who’s always on the road or on the run, we’re not going to recommend a tea for you. Instead we’re going to offer you Sun Potion or a tincture that’s easier to integrate into your lifestyle.”

Anderson and Koehnke see many customers who have become frustrated with the side effects and cost of pharmaceutical drugs and are curious about tuning into a more natural approach to treat chronic pain and illness. They also talk to a lot of parents seeking non-toxic products for their children. “Our motto in the shop is that plants are here to help us, not harm us,” Anderson emphasizes. “I can sleep well at night knowing that I’m sending someone home with quality products they don’t have to worry about, because we’re confident about where it came from.”

Rhizome’s custom-created gift boxes dubbed “Skin Saver” and “New Mama Survival Kit,” as well as its selection of earth-based jewelry, makeup, greeting cards, and candles, are hot gift items. Men might gravitate toward the shop’s sore muscle salve and Osmia’s earthy-scented Vetiver Grey soap bar.

“It’s really a lifestyle we’re promoting here,” Koehnke says. “We’re really working to support people in how they can care for themselves and their family on a whole body level, whether that’s a fragrant candle that will help give you a moment of peace, or a skin care line item, or if it means going deeper into an herb regimen. All we do is support people here, in whatever way that we can.”

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