Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary & Supply cooks up small-batch, handmade Boulder botanical health

Boulder’s botanical medicine for body + soul

By Isabella Scarpelli Sep 10 2019

Lined with dried herbs, small-batch, handmade teas, bulk ingredients, books and botanicals, Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary & Supply’s walls sing with nourishment.

Now a Boulder staple, Rebecca’s opened in 2004 at 1227 Spruce Street just north of the Pearl Street Mall, after Rebecca Lunca spent seven years preparing and evolving her business plan.

“It was such a fluke,” Rebecca said when asked how she found herbalism. After moving to Boulder from Boston with her son, and leaving behind her welding tools, Rebecca enrolled in Boulder’s Rocky Mountain School of Botanical Studies, which closed in 2003.

As a young, single mother, botanicals felt empowering and exciting. “You can eat that dandelion! Wow, really?”

Rebecca went on to teach botanical medicine-making and felt like she could never find everything she wanted in one place. As a cook, she connected deeply with the process of creating new recipes, and teaching pushed her toward mastery.

Rebecca’s bulk items. Photo: Isabella Scarpelli.

Apothecary evolution

Even after planning for seven years, she realized she still had a lot to learn about her new business.

The apothecary opened as a supply store with bulk herbs, and the introduction of Rebecca’s small-batch products evolved the business.

Rebecca grew her line of products by starting out with recipes she regularly used, and the menu grew with the needs of her customers. Rebecca and employees make all products at a commercial kitchen connected to its retail space.

Local sourcing

Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary supports local farms, small-scale organic farming and sustainable agriculture. These suppliers provide the store with high-quality, local botanicals.

Amber Graziano, a certified clinical herbalist and nutritionist and general manager of Rebecca’s, cultivates many of the apothecary’s relationships with small-scale local purveyors, which include Boulder’s Earthstar Farms, Carbondale, Colorado’s Biodynamic Botanicals and Boulder, Utah’s House of Aromatics.

Earthstar Farms, which shares land with Boulder’s ecumenical temple The StarHouse, grows medicinal herbs for Rebecca’s such as St. John’s wort, monarda, yarrow, Oregon grape root, mullein, nettles, calendula, red clover, mints, lavender, comfrey, passion flower, elderberry, sweet grass and echinacea. House of Aromatics crafts essential oils distilled from conifer tress for Rebecca’s.

The future

Rebecca still feels inspired by herbal medicine and the collaborative nature of the apothecary’s knowledgeable staff. Those with questions or in search of a remedy, will find that the store’s trained herbalists share any information they know and often refer books to customers.

Employees and visiting instructors teach classes at Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary to help visitors better understand how to use the botanicals it sells.

Rebecca holding her favorite product, Decadent Rose Face Butter. Photo: Isabella Scarpelli.

The store’s most popular items, according to Rebecca, includes Decadent Rose Face Butter, which has five 100 percent organic ingredients: refined shea butter, rosehip oil, rose essential oil, sandalwood essential oil, helichrysum essential oil.

For Rebecca, her nourishing tonic teas are foundational, and her daily care routine includes a heavy dose of the products she sells in the store. As we spoke, Rebecca sipped a cup of Nourishing Tonic Tea, made from organic rosehips, organic oatstraw, organic alfalfa, organic nettles, organic peppermint and organic lavender.

Her Boulder roots remain strong: she just signed a five-year lease at the Spruce Street location, where she hopes to maintain the community space that she and her staff have cultivated.