BA. Dip Med. Herb., Dip Soc Science Snr Fellow AANMP
Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Meditation Teacher - Keysborough - Melbourne Victoria
Patients who come into my consulting room, sometimes look askance at those big brown bottles of herbal tinctures and say to me “Can I get herbs in a tablet?”
Well you can quite often, but it’s not the same. For instance you might be concerned about your memory. There are tablets on the market that contain Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa. I can always give you those to take, but what if your poor memory is due to anxiety, or depression, or nervous exhaustion?
If I give you a tincture to take in the first case I could add Valerian or Passionflower or Hops to the Ginkgo and Bacopa.
If you are depressed I’d add St Johns Wort. If you were suffering burnout I might add Withania or Korean Ginseng. Then on the bottle of tablets it may say : Take one three times a day. That bottle does not know if you are a slim little woman or a big 6ft man. Herbs should be dose adjusted for your size. Drugs should be too. Vets do it, but Doctors don’t. Too much trouble perhaps. Or maybe they are not taught to do that.
By using liquid herbs you are getting medicine that is compounded especially for you. If you are a man with poor sperm motility I can add zinc powder to the appropriate mix of herbs. If you have a chronic illness I may need to keep changing the prescription little by little as we move through your body, fine-tuning every organ and body system.
Depending on your health I can choose whether to use tonic herbs or adaptogens or both. There is some overlap but adaptogens are used to increase strength and endurance. A tonic is more often used to build you up in some way. Many tonic herbs specialise in balancing a specific body system or systems.
What about the taste? Don’t herbs taste awful? Some do. Some are quite pleasant. St John’s Wort Tingles on your tongue but it doesn’t taste bad.
Cramp Bark is a very useful herb. Diluted in water it has a very neutral taste.
Hawthorn strengthens the heart. It makes a nice tea and as a tincture it tastes OK. It’s more effective combined with other herbs none of which taste bad.
Liquid herbs should always be diluted in juice or water. There is no rule that you can’t suck a lolly after you’ve drunk your dose if you don’t like the taste.
I don’t believe there is any form of medicine as effective and useful as herbs.
Sometimes we know the actions will be too slow and we’ll tell you get to a doctor fast for some drugs.
For instance I have had people present to me with serious pneumonia. They should often be in hospital. I tell them to come back when they are better and we’ll work on their immune and respiratory systems. Speaking of your immune system there is no drug as useful as a herbal regime.
Chinese herbal medicine differs in that the herbs are less processed. They may be ground or whole. They are stewed into a strong tea – they don’t taste so wonderful. I visited a Chinese herbalist/acupuncturist in Malaysia. They brewed up bowls of thick rich herb soup to drink before you left and they kept sweets on the counter to suck after you finished your warm bowl of “tea”.
Finally it’s a good idea to remember getting well is never just about taking herbs.
Maybe you need to start walking every day. Perhaps your diet doesn’t suit you. Maybe you are too strung up to treat effectively and you need to learn to meditate.
Meditation is a bit like herbs. You can learn it out of a book, or come to the weekly group, but nothing beats three or four private sessions where we can work on the best meditation for you and get you into a meditation regime that suits your lifestyle and needs.
In natural medicine there is no one size fits all and we both have to work as a team to get you well. Sorry but that doesn’t come in a quick pill bottle.
Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Meditation Teacher
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The information provided in this article is intended for general use and for personal interest only. It should not be used or understood as suggestion or medical advice.