A Different Look at Healing

Sacred Nature Apothecaries

A community is a place for people with common interests. Being a part of a community can give validation and support to its members. The Sacred Nature Apothecary is striving to create its own community in the Wasatch Back. This group centers around a search for wellness and an interest in alternative medicines, such as cannabidiol (CBD). For Elena Yanez, the owner of the apothecary, this new community is a way to help others find relief.

The shop held its grand opening in September of 2020. It takes the place of a previous CBD store, but Yanez plans to create much more than just a store. “I hope that we can create a community around hemp and CBD, and people can really get relief and joy from the products that they’re using.”

Yanez has plenty of other things on her plate too. Aside from opening the store, she works in mortgages and refinances, she also runs a down payment assistance fund. She grew up with parents who were real estate investors. When her stepdad joined her family, she learned a lot about the retail business. Yanez followed in the family footsteps with real estate and retail. Then, about 15 years ago, her parents got into the dispensary business in Northern California, and she started learning more about alternative medicines, especially hemp.

Although some might believe hemp is the same as the marijuana plant, Yanez explained that there are two different plants, although they are cousins. THC is what can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects. While THC is high in marijuana, the hemp plant has only a .03 THC level, which is much lower. In fact, hemp is not known to cause the negative effects of its cousin plant. Yanez explained, “There are no negative side effects with CBD. You’re just totally clear. There’s not that cloud that you can sometimes get with other things, like you could with another pain medication even.”

Members of Elena’s family run the first hemp lab licensed in Utah, so it was a natural discussion for Yanez and other family members to talk about the possibility of creating a business around CBD when the hemp bill was passed in Utah in 2018.  Elena has always wanted to live in the Heber Valley. She has a lot of family here in Heber, her son was born in Wasatch County, so having her business here was a perfect fit.

Although she spent most of her childhood living in Sugarhouse, in the Salt Lake area, Yanez moved to Northern California during the summer before her 9th grade year. “Most people, you’d think, would really feel connected with where they went to high school. No, I’ve always tried to get back here,” explained Yanez. “So, the minute I could, I did. Right out of college, I moved back here with a friend on a whim. No matter where I go, I always want to be back here.”

That’s one reason she chose the name “Sacred Nature Apothecary.” According to Yanez, “That’s how we feel when we come to Heber . . . I remember the first time I drove into Heber. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh. I feel like I’m driving into the commercials from the Hidden Valley Ranch [salad dressing]. It’s an amazingly beautiful place. There’s nowhere else really like it. Everyone is just so nice and connected. And I feel like there’s such a sense of community.”

That’s her plan with the Sacred Nature Apothecary — to create a community within a community. “I feel like there are so many people out there that are in the same boat that suffer from anxiety or pain or something to do with their neurological system . . . It’s just kind of overwhelming for people to go through this and feel like they’re not being heard or that they have to jump through hoops for care,” she said. “What I really was focused on was creating a welcoming environment for people to come in and learn about products. Maybe they didn’t even know something like CBD would benefit them.” She even carries hemp products to help dogs with health issues.

Many of her customers come in for pain management, looking for an alternative to prescription medication. “They don’t want to be on the prescription medicines anymore. They’re not working for them anymore, or they just don’t like how they make them feel.” According to Yanez, CBD products can help ease pain without the side effects found in many prescription medications.

Yanez has so much confidence in the products she sells, that she guarantees everything. “If something doesn’t work for them, they can come in and find something that does,” she said.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant. It does not produce intoxication.

Is It Legal?

House Bill 3001, also known as the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, was passed in 2018, and legalized CBD oil containing 0.3% THC or less.

The Sacred Nature Apothecary focuses on local companies and products. Yanez explained that hemp is heavily regulated in Utah. “In Utah, everything has to be sent to a lab to get third-party tested, so everyone can see what exactly is in the product and how strong the CBD is. Sometimes, in other markets, there are products that are coming from overseas, and maybe it’s not fully regulated by the FDA or they don’t know what farms the plants are coming from.” Yanez has personal relationships with all her brands, and she knows where they are grown and processed. “Pretty much every product that we carry in this store is locally grown, sourced, processed, and the owners are actually local to Utah.”

The apothecary also carries Native American jewelry with turquoise and semi-precious earth stones from a tribe in New Mexico and metal art from local artist Rob Palmer. “It looks like something out of Restoration Hardware,” added Yanez. For Christmas, she will have additional items such as other herbs and teas, tea sets, books, golden milk, turmeric, and crystals.

Elena is grateful to all those who’ve helped her on her journey, “The apothecary wouldn’t be without my mom Elena Larson, and my Step Dad Vince Lera, they’ve always been so supportive and confident in my wild ideas. From a young age they taught us about business, markets, and investments. My Dad, John, and Stepmom, Ramona, who always managed to teach my siblings and I to never forget who we are and why we’re here, Karin and Jeff Mounteer of Heber, are my bonus parents, who have always been there for my son Maverick and I — our rock through thick and thin. And all of our amazing CBD and Brand partnerships, whom together through compassion, education, and using high quality natural plant ingredients and processes, are helping to build a community dedicated to creating alternative and holistic medicines. We are so excited to share our products and knowledge with others.”

By Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW

One of the most important things for humans is connection. Belonging to a group and being connected to them helps us live longer, be healthier, and have more happiness. Being told to separate ourselves from others can cause harm to our physical and mental wellbeing, as individuals and as a society. It goes against our instincts and desires. It can breed loneliness and fear of other people.

Some of the physical and psychological effects of social distancing may include:

Dealing with these effects, recovering from this pandemic, and healing from it is going to take work, both collectively and individually. We will recover, we will move through this. It will be essential we do so in a way that allows for mental wellness and healing.


Building your resilience will enable you to recover quicker. However, it is not as easy as just saying, “I got this” and “I’m going to get over it,” it requires action.  To allow our whole self to heal, we need to do the mental, physical, and spiritual work. As we improve, we can bring our families and communities with us.


The short answer? Through hard work. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can achieve overnight. It’s something we have to practice over and over again as we build our skills and resilience.


Becoming aware of our body, reactions, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and how we are actually doing is mandatory for having more choice and control in our lives. But, awareness in and of itself is hard to learn how to do. Do we know how our bodies and minds react to each other? Do we have an inner critic that is always in charge and shaming us? Having an awareness of these things allows us to start to have control over what is going on internally.

The KEY here is self-compassion — learning to be aware of what is going on in the moment — understanding what is going on and being kind to ourselves in our suffering. Self-compassion means allowing ourselves to be human, struggle, suffer, and to grieve without judgment or expectation. Self-compassion and awareness are the foundations for building resilience and healing.


This is more than pedicures, massages and working out (although those are great). It’s the simple things we do every day to take care of ourselves, to improve our mental and physical well being. It’s important to look at everything we are doing for self-care; if we are hyper-focused on one or two specific things, we are not taking care of our whole selves.

How we practice self-care looks different for everybody. Some ideas might include:

Self-care can be a struggle. For some, there is an underlying belief that we need to serve others before we take care of ourselves; that behavior is harmful. When we ignore our self-care or put it last, we have less ability to support and help those around us. If we continue to give, when we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we experience increased rates of physical and mental illness.


Currently, our community is experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety, panic, and fear. Learning mindfulness will help counteract those feelings and help us to shift our focus away from unhealthy worry over what is happening and what might happen.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present, of dealing only with what is going on right now. It is learning to allow whatever it is, regardless, without judgment. It’s connected to self-compassion, decreased anxiety and stress, and an improved state of mind.


Engaging and connecting with others will always be important to humans, but it is especially crucial to surviving and healing. The way we connect might not always be ideal and may be difficult, especially with the added fear of getting sick. Finding ways to connect virtually or learning how to reconnect is a vital part of the healing process.

The last several months have been trying and stressful for many of us. If you are struggling, that’s ok. Know that what you are experiencing is a NORMAL reaction to an ABNORMAL event. You will get through this.

Please know this is NOT something most of us can do on our own. Getting support and help from friends, family or a professional during these times will help us build resilience, survive, and heal as individuals and communities.

Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW, is the founder of Purple Sky Counseling in Heber. She specializes in women’s issues, trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, C-PTSD, low self-esteem, children and teens, life transitions, negative self-talk, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, faith transitions, and LGBTQIA.