Herbal Supplements and Blends
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Medicinal herbs have been used safely and effectively throughout recorded history. Herbs can offer the body nutrients and specific 'phyto-stimulants' to correct the function of organs, glands and bodily systems. They can also provide harmless substances to aid in the elimination of many types of acute and chronic infections be they fungal, bacterial, viral or parasitical.
Herbal supplements are great body balancers, helping to regulate body functions. The benefits are many and varied. Today, herbs are still the primary source of health care for 80% of the planet.
Combinations of herbs sometimes work better than they do singly, because specific combinations allow inclusion of herbs that can work at different aspects and stages of need. Blending herbs increases the scope of effectiveness and potency. Herbal combinations are powerful nutritional agents that assist the body naturally.
If in doubt, just start with one herb and adapt to it thoroughly before introducing the next one. This is in line with our general advice about adding in remedies incrementally, as discussed in the article The Incremental Introduction of Nutritional Supplements
Considerations of Dose
The latter two are hard to study as reactions are individual. Many experienced herbal practitioners have used the substantial dose in their clinical practice. Smaller doses might be more suitable for children, or people who tend to be sensitive.
Starting with a low dose for a day or two to check for individual sensitivity of any herb or herbal blend is usually a good idea. Herbalists often recommend increasing the dose daily for a few days until the full or desired dose is obtained. When stopping an herb preparation, taper off by cutting the dose in half for a few days so as to ease the body out of the treatment, which is less likely to create unpleasant effects.
Herb extracts or concentrates generally require lower doses. Refer to the instructions on the container where extracts/concentrates are used.
It should be noted that herbal practitioners tend to concentrate on relatively short periods of treatment time to overcome the presenting symptoms or health crisis. Long term use of herbs for tonic, longevity or prevention purposes should usually be taken at lower doses.
It is more effective to take remedies in divided doses throughout the day rather than all at one time (as per the instructions on the container).
Body Size and Vitality in Determining Dose
Body size and vitality should be taken into account when determining the proper dose of an herbal preparation. Give a smaller, more gentle dose perhaps more often, to a small person or young child, than you would a large vigorous adult. Pay attention to, and honor individual sensitivities. Some people respond quickly to smaller doses than others. If your vitality is low (this includes persons with low chi, normally an acupuncturist can tell from your pulses if your chi is low) then the dose needs to be smaller and strong herbs should be taken with caution, as mentioned previously, concerning the adrenal glands. If you are 'sensitive', of low vitality then taking herbs with meals can make their effect milder. Conversely taking a herb or nutritional supplement on an empty stomach especially first thing in the morning can have a stronger effect.
When to Take Herbs
To maximize absorption and minimize digestive discomfort, the time of day you take herbal preparations can make a difference. While this may be true, it is still better to take the herbs any time you remember than not at all. If there is digestive discomfort from any supplement or herb it is usually best to take just before or with meals.
For liquid preparations like teas or tinctures added to water, teas, or juices, take them between meals, unless they cause digestive upset, then take just after meals.
One of the most important things to remember about the use of herbs is that regularity is a key to success. Taking them sporadically may provide some benefit, but the best effects, by far, can be achieved through steady use, day after day, at similar times.
How Often to Take Herbal Preparations
The active constituents of herbs are absorbed from the gut, or affect immune tissue directly in the gut. They are often metabolized by the liver to produce other secondary compounds, and these eventually lead to a blood serum level that delivers the activity to various tissues throughout the body.