I am often asked what kinds of herbal medicines we use in the clinic, so here is a brief description of the main forms of herbal medicines that we use.
Created thousands of years ago by our herbal ancestors, liquid herbal tinctures are still a favourite medicinal preparation today. They are concentrated liquid extracts of the soluble constituents of roots, barks, seeds or aerial parts of plants to preserve their vital properties. Tincture made from alcohol (usually ethyl alcohol) ensures preservation for a number of years. Among the advantages of herbal tinctures is their ability to preserve the active constituents in plants, their long shelf life, and almost immediate effect. Tinctures can be easily added to water, tea, juice, or taken directly by mouth. Like good wines, tinctures take time to mature- it is a living thing!!
Tinctures are probable the most efficient and quick acting blood absorbable way one can benefit from medicinal herbs. Tinctures have many advantages as a mode of delivery for herbs. The bio-availability of tinctures is very high because tinctures don’t rely on digestion to break them down. Tinctures are readily absorbed by the body, beginning their work in the bloodstream almost as soon as they enter the mouth, significantly increasing the benefits of the herbal remedy.
Dosage: The amount of tincture prescribed as a single dosage may vary from a few drops to 1-2 teaspoons depending on the strength of the herbal remedy and the action required. Where there is an aversion to alcohol the dose can be taken in hot water from which the alcohol soon vaporises into the atmosphere leaving only medication and water.
Ratios: Most herbal tinctures in the clinic are of strength 1:3. These ratios tell you how much solvent to plant was used to create your finished tincture. For example, a ratio of 1:3 tells us that 1 part herb was used with 3 parts alcohol. The lower the ratio the stronger the tincture.
• Single Herbal Tinctures- Tinctures manufactured from just one single herb. These are commonly used as a supplement to your daily diet.
• Combination Herbal Tinctures- Tinctures blended with a combination of medical herbs specifically formulated to assist with particular ailments. It is these types that are more commonly used in the clinic. There could be anything up to 15 different herbs in a well-blended formula. One of the key skills of a medical herbalist is to be able to identify and select which key herbs are best suited to a client’s particular condition and to then blend them into an herbal remedy which is specific just for that person.
Sometimes it is more appropriate to take herbs in their dry powdered form as in this form you can take the whole herb. It is important that the powders are a fine as possible; this guarantees that the cell walls are largely broken down and helps in the digestion and absorption of the herbs.
Some of the advantages of herbal powders:
1. Nutrients straight from whole foods/herbs are more bioavailable, meaning they are best absorbed because they are in their natural form along with the proper ratio of complimentary vitamins and minerals that aid in their absorption. Supergreen or nutritional powders pack a huge nutritional dense punch.
2. Concentrated herbal powders contain more than just vitamins and minerals. Phytochemicals in the forms of carotenoids and flavonoids, for instance, are present in dried herbs, but not all vitamin supplements contain them. Phytochemicals are beneficial for a number reasons, probably the most important being their antioxidant properties.
3. Herbal powders don’t contain any sweeteners or additives.
4. Herbal powder remedies can be altered to meet specific needs during different stages of a treatment plan.
5. Herbal powders are used to good effect to treat conditions in the intestines and colon, for example constipation.
There’s nothing like having a cup of an herbal infusion for mere pleasure or for the purpose of good health. Herbal infusions are a favourite way for many people to enjoy the quality of nutritious tonic herbs.
So what’s the difference between an herbal tea and an herbal infusion?
An herbal tea is most often used with single herb for the purpose of simply enjoying a cup of herbal tea
An herbal infusion is very much like a tea, only it is steeped longer and uses a larger amount of different herbs expertly blended together by the herbalist to help treat a particular health condition. The purpose of an herbal infusion is feeding your body a high dose of vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties of the herbs. Herbal infusions act as tonics for the body. According to Nature Skills, a cup of nettle tea has 5-10 mg. of calcium, while a cup of a nettle infusion can contain up to 500 mg. of calcium! Clearly, Herbal infusions provide many more time the amount of nutrition than simple herbal teas.
Some infusions work better when taken hot, as in feverish conditions like colds and flu. Diaphoretics infusions are taken to induce perspiration; expectorant infusions to loosen phlegm, febrifuge infusions help lower high body temperatures and hypnotic infusions help induce sleep.
Other infusions work better when taken cold like an alterative infusion for the purification of blood, a bitter infusion to sharpen the appetite, diuretic infusion to promote the flow of urine, a vermifuge infusion to expel worms or a tonic infusion to stimulate metabolism,
When do you use an infusion?
Some people drink both teas and infusions on a regular basis for good health, some drink mostly tea and only make infusions occasionally, and some herbalists drink only infusions and don’t mess with the less-nutritious teas.
I consume herbal infusions as a daily drink and at times when my body needs a particular herb(s) for an illness. I treat infusions more like taking a supplement booster and drink them as a way to supply my body with high doses of vitamins and minerals.
Drinking at least one cup of a well blended infusion a day is a great idea for good health!
For more information on herbal medicine click on this LINK
To book a herbal medicine consultation phone the clinic on 085-215 7479