I have been busy lately and missing from this virtual space. I've been focusing my creative energy on making herbal magic. Beautiful and delicious herbal remedies that will nourish body and soul. We all need to focus on our creativity from time to time and take care of our mind as well as our bodies.
I wanted to share with you the projects I've been working on and to talk about ways to get most out of your herbal remedies. I am convinced that a lot of the times when people claim herbs don't work for them , it is because they do not use the proper method of preparation. I always say, that if I managed to convince my husband in choosing an herbal regimen over traditional blood pressure medication, then anyone can successfully find plants that will work for their specific problem. We are all unique and we can not be treated in the same way. This is one of the mistakes of modern medicine. Herbal remedies are as individual as the person who takes them. I know it sounds like a lot of work , and like we all should be herbalists in order to find our way around the massive amount of information out there. Believe me , it is actually a lot simpler than this. Everybody can benefit from the same herbal infusions, or tinctures, or herbal capsules, it's just a matter of choosing the right method of preparation.
Here are a few tips on how to choose the most beneficial herbal preparation for (almost) any given situation:
- Are you trying to treat an acute or a chronic condition? - This is very important since an acute condition requires immediate action , like when you have the flu, or are experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea. I really like using tinctures for acute conditions since they bring the right concentrated amount of the herb's beneficial compound in a small dose. For example, when I notice my 3 year old getting sick , I often give him Echinacea Glycerite. It is much easier to give him a dropperful of liquid than to make him drink enormous amounts of tea. It is quick and simple to administer , and I can be sure that he gets the right amount of medicine to prevent the upcoming cold. A chronic condition on the other hand often requires a long term protocol of herbal medicine complemented by diet, exercise and other alternative healing methods like acupuncture, massage , etc. This may require smaller doses of herbal medicine that builds up in the system in order to nourish and balance, rather than promote an immune reaction. For example, my husband manages his high blood pressure with a combination of herbs which he takes as an infusion daily , as well as some herbal capsules, proper diet and exercise. He drinks a little over a quart of a wonderful tea , called Brave Heart, which I created for him. It helps to gently detoxify his body by supporting gut function and has some herbs that strengthen the heart muscle and manage his body's ability to handle stress. He also takes a great herbal formula with cayenne to stimulate proper blood circulation in his body. His diet is made of real food, no "low fat" or "low carb", or other labels that might make it look healthier. Just home made. We eat pastured eggs and bacon, and wonderful sourdough bread, tons of fermented veggies, and antibiotic and hormone free meats, as well as tons of veggies and fruits. This is something he can follow for a long time and it helps to bring his body to balance. Do not forget that everything in nature is created with the ability to protect and heal itself. Our bodies just need a little reminder of how to do it.
- Are you taking the right dose for you? - I think this is the second most important thing that we should focus on. Often, people purchase an herbal supplement and they look at the label in order to determine how much to take. It is a good general guideline but you have to know that it might not work for you. We all have different age and weight and different tolerance to the plants. Some people might need just a few drops of a tincture and some might need a whole dropperful to feel the effect. So, the general rule is to start small , maybe 5 drops of a tincture or one capsule of an herbal formula , and then build up to the amount that gives you the desired effect. Do not forget that your body might not tolerate the same herbs as my body does. But don't worry , Mother Nature has something for all of us. There are many plants which might seem similar in their function, but can be tolerated differently by different people. For example, if you need a nervine,something to calm you down, but not put you to sleep, you might want to try a cup of chamomile tea at night, or add some lemon balm, or tincture of skullcap. Just listen to your body!
- Is this the latest marketing trick? - I think people often ignore backyard medicine over the latest "discovery" on the news. My general rule is: Do your research. Take the time to get to know what grows around you, especially if you still live in the climate where you grew up. If you are an outdoors person it is good to know the plants that are available to you in the wild , so you can have medicine when you need it. A dandelion can be more healing than a plant you can not pronounce. It is a lot cheaper as well. Backyard medicine is often free and it can actually connect you to a wonderful crowd of people that cherish the Earth and its treasures. community can be therapeutic as well. :)
- Are you taking a whole herb preparation? - I am a strong believer in the amazing properties of plants as nature created them. I don't like to take single constituents derived from even the safest plant. Things can go very wrong. Think about the fact that many of the conventional medications come from plants and they still tag an enormous list of side effects. Isn't this what we want to avoid? On the other hand, nature has created plants with such a diverse number of constituents, that even modern science hasn't been able to catch up yet. Usually plants contain an active compound ( often more than one) and additional compounds which allow our bodies to properly utilize its main function and which protect us from harmful effects and overdosing. Taking only isolated active compounds in pill form is what gives some herbs, like comfrey and ephedra, their bad reputation. Choose herbal infusions, syrups, tinctures, or whole plant capsules for your herbal needs. I want to add that I do recommend essential oils in some cases and they can be a miracle worker when you are on the go, even though they are not whole plant product. But it will take another blog post to dive into such a vast subject like essential oils.
What herbal preparations are your favorite?