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110. What's the best way to take herbal remedies?

As a Clinical Herbalist and Former Registered Nurse, I've had many opportunities to ponder this question. We live in the 21st century and ease is one consideration. Ritual is another. Large corporations jumping into the mix is yet another and it can be confusing for a consumer.


Let's break it down. The best ways to consume herbs are as a tincture, oil, tea, or cooked in food. There are three forms on the market that I'm not a fan of - the pill, capsule, and powder.


Herbs/Plants contain medicinal properties. Humans and animals have known about herbs for millennia and that knowledge has been passed down through generations. Some fresh herbs can be chewed or macerated and placed on the skin for healing. (See my previous blog post about the orangutan).

When herbs are consumed internally, they need heat or alcohol to extract their medicinal properties.


Preparing a tea or cooking with herbs is beneficial when you have time, and if you enjoy the process. For many, this is a ritual. It forces us to slow down, and let's face it, that has its own benefits.


Some herbs aren't easily extracted in water and require simmering for long periods of time. That's fine if you have time but this is when alcohol extraction (a tincture) is an advantage. It's easy. Some herbs can only be extracted in alcohol because the properties in that plant are only alcohol soluble. Another benefit of tinctures is that they are concentrated. When placed under the tongue, some of it is absorbed directly into the blood, where it can start affecting the body immediately. After swallowing, the rest is absorbed through the gut.


Again, extraction is necessary to reap the benefits of herbs. Let's talk about pills, capsules, and powders. Large manufacturers use these forms of herbal preparations because they're easy. However, if you do a little research, you'll find that typically, the herbs haven't been extracted. They're usually just ground into a powder, pressed into a pill, placed into a capsule, or poured into a jar. That makes it easy for the manufacturer. However, they're not as bioavailable, and very little is absorbed into your body.


When it comes to mushroom coffees - you're better off spending your money elsewhere. Medicinal mushrooms contain chitin - an indigestible fiber. So medicinal mushrooms have to be extracted. And they need to be extracted in specific ways. Some of their medicinal properties are only alcohol-soluble and some are only water-soluble. At Spiral Herbal Remedies, our mushroom tinctures are a 50-50 combination of alcohol and water extracts. Meaning, they contain ALL of the medicinal properties, unlike powders/coffees. You're welcome. :))))


*** Another consideration when using Herbs for healing is that often combinations of herbs in a tea or tincture have an exponential effect on the body. A combination can address the root of the problem while also helping with some of the ways the problem shows up in the body. This is when working with a reputable, trained Herbalist is essential. We know what herbs can be extracted as tea, what herbs need long-simmering, what herbs need an alcohol extraction, and safe/effective ways to combine them.


My favorite way of taking herbs is as a tincture. I leave them on the counter in my bathroom, as a reminder, put them under my tongue for a minute, swallow, and get on with my day. Don't worry, our tinctures are formulated to taste good. You won't take them otherwise. :)


While in the shop, I usually make a pot of one of our tea blends so visitors can sample them. Of course, I can't resist their delicious flavors and usually end up drinking a cup or two myself over the course of the day.


Of note, CBD is a whole other ball of wax. Our CBD is extracted using CO2. That process creates an isolate, meaning it is almost 100% CBD. (99.2% CBD, .34% CBDV) As an isolate, it contains no THC, the part that would make you high. So it can be taken during the day, you can drive a car, go to work, and be completely functional. CBD offers relief from anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, helps with sleep, and is an antioxidant. Because it is extracted with CO2, there are no toxic residues, unlike other CBD products extracted with propane, butane, acetone, hexane, etc. (!!). We screen for all of that and our lab results are front-and-center on our website so you can see them for yourself.


I hope this helps you as you move forward on your Herbal journey toward health. Feel free to send questions via our "Let's Chat" button, sign up for a quick or long consultation under the consultation menu, or pop into our shop at 810 Washington Ave in Brooklyn, NY. We're open 12-7, closed on Tuesdays. If I'm not in, my very informed employee is there to help.







Happy Herbal Extracts Everyone!!



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