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Herbal Supplements and Blends

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.

Single herbs have a clearly defined action and may suit your particular condition/constitution (or Dosha as is defined by the Auderveric system of healing).
If one is taking more than one powerful herb at the same time, especially if seemingly complimentary opposite herbs, it can result in  a very powerful general stimulus on the body/life force to change in a progressive way. However, if you are not of a strong constitution or even have chronic adrenal insufficiency or just weak adrenals* or just define yourself as 'sensitive' then such a strong input of two or more powerful and diverse herbs can disrupt homoeostasis (the self balancing mechanisms of the system/organism).

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

* For weak adrenals various herbs or superfoods can be used to strengthen the glands. Herbs that give this support to the adrenal glands are sometimes referred to as adaptogens and help to tone up the glands. Weak adrenal glands are often related to the ability of the body to deal with emotional, environmental or physiological stress. Examples of two useful herbs for the adrenals are
  • Liquorice root, often included with other herbs in the Chinese tranditional herbal system, to support the adrenals during the biological changes brought on by the other herbs.
  • Peruvian Maca, known to help balance the entire endocrinal/hormonal system (adrenal, thyroid, pituitary, pineal, thymus, pancreas and ovaries/testes).

Considerations of Dose

The dose of an herbal preparation you take in a single dose, or throughout the day is a crucial part of getting good results. Taking too little can result in no effect at all, because some herb actions such as immune stimulation require a threshold amount to trigger the response. One can categorize methods of dosing into
  • Substantial dose
  • Dilute dose
  • Energy medicine (a homoeopathic type effect)

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.

Start Low

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.

Substantial dose

A substantial dose of an herb preparation is when you ingest a significant amount of active constituents from the plants, preferably throughout the day, to keep levels of the active compounds at effective levels in your bloodstream and tissues. This form of dosing has been widely practiced throughout the world in many traditional societies over the centuries, and still is today. Such as by the millions of people who use traditional Chinese medicine.
Using herbs in substantial amounts is also the most supported scientifically, because the active compounds from the herbs can actually be measured in the blood at levels demonstrated to be physiologically active. Using more dilute herbal preparations is less supported scientifically, and was not widely practiced in traditional societies. The doses recommended on our containers are for a substantial dose for an average 12 stone adult, and should be varied pro-rata for larger/smaller body sizes (see section below).

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).

Capsules are popular as they are quick and easy to take. Also, the capsules shell preserves the herbs better than a powder will be preserved in a pot. For those who prefer herbal teas or infusions, capsules can still be utilised in one of the following ways
  • Fill a cup with hot or boiling water and open the capsule to empty the contents into the cup and stir. One can even put the whole days dose in the cup and drink the infusion throughout the day.
  • Drop the capsules into a cup of boiling water and wait a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The capsules will dissolve, releasing the contents to make an infusion (all RN branded herbal products are encapsulated in capsules made from vegetable cellulose).

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.

The time it takes for an active compound to achieve the maximum concentration in the blood and then decline to half of the concentration is known for some compounds in herbs and is called the serum half-life. In reading research studies it can be seen that his half life is often around 3-4 hours, meaning that many active compounds do not stick around the body all day. Because of this, one can theoretically achieve the best results by taking the herbs 3 times a day, morning, afternoon, and evening. Yet many people cannot remember to take them3 times a day, or it is very inconvenient. Taking them in the mid-morning and an hour before bedtime is next best, and taking them once a day is often not as effective, though better than nothing if they are taken every day.
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Disclaimer: Regenerative Nutrition advocates a holistic approach to natural health and wellbeing. The body's ability and power to heal depends upon the totality of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors. The information provided in our article is for information purposes only, it in no way constitutes a medical consultation, or medical advice, nor is it intended to be taken as a solicitation to purchase our products.

Always consult a health care practitioner when combating disease states.

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