The Vitamin Man

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Local shopowner helps naturally cure what ails you as allergy season rears its head

By Laura Shanahan

Feeling a little sneezy, wheezy and teary eyed? Welcome to the wacky, wonderful world of allergy season, beginning a little early and a little sturdy this year. (Yeah, that's what they say every year, but, well, it's true every year.)

"People are mentioning they're beginning to experience symptoms," David Endo nods sympathetically ? and Endo should know. He's the real-life star of a real-life David and Goliath story ? and born to the role, since he already had the name; in fact, let's call him David henceforth ? it's impossible to know this sweet, infinitely patient man and call him only by his last name.

David, as those of you who patronized the now-defunct Health Nuts store on Broadway near 76th Street may know, was the brainy employee whose knowledge of bodily ills and cures was encyclopedic. In the rare instances he didn't have a ready answer for the many customer queries he fielded, he could be found with his nose buried in a weighty tome. Often there was a line of people waiting to speak with him.

Finally, in 2008, David went out on his own, opening The Vitamin Peddler, a modest little shop with a well-edited selection of vitamins, natural supplements, homeopathic remedies and more, at 364 Amsterdam Avenue, off 77th Street. Fans of his at his former place of employment, plus a never-ending stream of newbies, fill the place, seeking relief from what ails them.

So, David, what's with all the citywide sneezing, wheezing and tears? The many elm trees now blooming is one explanation, he says: "They're beautiful, but high in pollen." He likes the non-drowsy bioAllers Allergy Treatment named Tree Pollen, which sounds counter-intuitive, but homeopathic remedies are based on "a hair of the dog."

"It works very quickly," David assures of the liquid, which is applied by the drop to the tongue. A one-ounce bottle, which supplies about 60 doses ? more than you should need ? costs $9.50.

Another star in the Peddler's arsenal of allergy-fighting remedies is Bluebonnet's Super Quercetin, which contains the flavonoid quercetin, a general antihistamine, with other natural ingredients to boost its efficacy. And, because quercetin is also an anti-inflammatory, David says it's additionally used in such conditions as inflammatory bowel disease; 50 Vcaps are $18.35. (What are Vcaps? That's what I wanted to know: vegetarian or vegan capsules. Are we getting an education or what?)

A third natural allergy-fighting option is Eclectic Institute's fresh, raw, freeze-dried Stinging Nettle dietary supplements; 90 gluten-free vegan capsules are $15.25.

Popular and sometimes hard to find health-oriented products by such names as Jarrow, Quantum, Nordic Naturals, Jason, Weleda and Bach are also stocked, as well as such surprises in such a limited space as big, beautiful bars of soap plus raw honey. The former, by South of France Natural Body Care, are half-pound blocks, free of sulfates, parabens and animal by-products (and no animal testing), in such gorgeous scents as Pure Gardenia, Sweet Almond and Relaxing Lavender; $4.49.

Don't forget your free copy of Energy Times and Life Extension mags on your way out ? and definitely don't forget to check the seemingly endless posters and business cards that fill a wall. Here locals advertise everything from Hebrew tutoring to tai chi and from carpentry to cat-sitting.

(Pssst: Looking for a cat-sitter? Call me!)

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