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Taking Herbal Extracts

Q: Why is it better to choose herbal formulas instead of single herbs?
A: To get the results you are looking for, it is important to choose herbs that best address your specific health needs. This web site lists formulas as effective healing agents. As an herbalist, I generally favor formulas because they offer greater health benefits, greater affordability, and greater convenience. The guesswork of determining which single extracts to take has been eliminated for you. The cost of buying one or two formulas versus buying the single extracts found in each formula is significantly less. The level of support offered by a formula is amplified since a formula is more effective than the sum of its herbal parts. Each herb in the formula complements the others and together they support your body in its quest for health.

Q: What is the best time of day to take liquid herbal extracts?
A: In most instances, I suggest taking liquid herbal extracts between meals, apart from food. This way, the extracts will not have to compete with food in the stomach and the digestive process. Thus, the herbal constituents rapidly enter the bloodstream and immediately go to the areas where the support is needed. Some herbs, however, are better taken before meals. For example, bitter herbs tone up the stomach and promote the production of hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes. Others herbs, like sleep aids, are best taken one hour before bedtime to allow relaxation and a more restful sleep. Pay attention to the dosage notation under each herb in the Herbal Directory for specific directions on timing.

Q: How do I know when to stop taking an extract?
A: Each formulation affects the body differently. Some formulas act quickly, while others take more time to balance, nourish, and support body systems. Certain herbs are best taken for a short time (one to three weeks) while other herbs deliver their best results when they are taken for extended period of time (three to six months or longer). When duration is important, it is noted in the dosage recommendations of the Herbal Directory.

The following considerations determine duration. In general, the stronger the herbs in a formulation, the shorter the length of time it should be taken (i.e. a few weeks). Examples of such formulations include Loviral™, Peak Defense™, and Respiratonic®. Other formulations, such as Deep Health®, Deprezac™, and Stress ReLeaf® are best taken over a longer period of time (i.e. months and up to years) as the health benefits they confer build over time. If you are in doubt, consult a knowledgeable herbalist or a naturopath. Keep in mind that herbs are medicine and recommended dosages should not be exceeded unless under the supervision of a health professional.

Q: Why do some extracts taste so strong?
A: Don't let the strong taste of some liquid herbal formulas keep you from experiencing the healing qualities of those herbs. In our society, we are addicted to two tastes: salty and sweet. However, there are three other tastes that are equally important in maintaining health: sour, bitter, and pungent. These tastes, when taken as herbs or foods, initiate body responses that promote health. For example pungent tasting herbs, such as Turmeric, support healthy liver function. The bitter taste of other herbs stimulate healthy digestive processes and support fat metabolism. Sour tastes, even though they may not be pleasant, are needed by our bodies to encourage healthy intestinal microbiota. To ignore these important tastes actually deprive our bodies from an opportunity to achieve balance. If the taste of herbs is a deal breaker for you, consider the option of taking your liquid herbal extracts in the convenience of a softgel.

Q: What is the best way to disguise the taste of liquid herbal extracts?
A: The best way to take liquid herbal extracts without affecting their healing properties is to add them to water, juice, and/or herbal tea, as long as the tea doesn't contain caffeine. Although some hardcore aficionados prefer to put undiluted liquid herbal extracts directly in their mouths, adding the drops in some form of liquid is easier and recommended for most people. Herbs taken for digestive purposes are best taken in only two or three ounces of water so that the taste buds may experience the bitterness of the herbs since it is the bitterness of the herbs that enhances the digestive process.  

Q: Can I give liquid herbal extracts to my children?
A: There are four things you must be aware of when giving liquid herbal extracts to children.

1) Children should be at least one year old. Children under the age of one should only be given liquid herbal extracts under the supervision of an herbalist or a knowledgeable primary care physician (medical doctor, naturopath, acupuncturist, etc.).

2) A child's dosage is a fraction of the adult dosage. Here’s an easy way to adjust the dosage. If a liquid herbal extract calls for a 30-drop dose for an adult, adjust the dosage by giving three drops per year of age to a child. For example, a three-year-old child would take nine drops of the extract (30 drops adult dosage: 3 drops x 3 years old = 9 drops). If the extract calls for a 10-drop dose for an adult, adjust the dosage by giving one drop per year of age. Therefore, a three-year-old child would take three drops of the extract (10 drop adult dosage: 1 drop x 3 years old = 3 drops). See specific adult dosage instructions under each formulation in the Herbal Directory section.

The second way to figure out a child's dosage is to divide the adult dosage by 150 pounds and multiply the number by the weight of the child. For example, an adult dosage of 30 drops is divided by 150 pounds = 2/10 of a drop, multiplied by the weight of a 30 pound child = 6 drops. Herbalists know this method as Clark’s rule.

3) If the child is of slight build or underweight for his/her age, determine the correct dosage for the weight of the child using to the second equation since it more accurately takes the weight of the child in consideration.

4) If the child has a weak constitution, i.e. is frail, recuperating from an illness or is in any weakened state, cut the usual child's dosage by 25 percent.

Q: How can I get my child to take liquid herbal extracts?
A: Over the years, I have found that adding the drops in orange juice is the easiest way to give a liquid herbal extract to a child. Orange juice disguises the taste of liquid herbal extract fairly well. Other juices may also be used for the same purpose.

Q: Can I give liquid herbal extracts to my pets? How much should I give them?
A: I have found that pets respond favorably to liquid herbal extracts. However, in the same way that you need to adjust dosages for children, care should be taken to adjust dosages for animals. The general rule is to give two drops per 10 pounds of the animal weight. For most pets, one of the best way to give liquid herbal extracts is to mix them in their food.  

Q: When giving liquid herbal extracts to pets, is it necessary to evaporate the alcohol from the dosage given to the animal?
A: It is not necessary to evaporate the alcohol from a dosage of liquid herbal extract as the amount of alcohol in a single dose is too small to cause any harm.

Q: How many drops/softgels should I take?
A: For best results, follow the dosages recommended in the Herbal Directory under the appropriate formulation.

Q: How many drops are in a one-ounce bottle of liquid herbal extract?
A: There are approximately 1,200 drops in a one-ounce bottle of liquid herbal extract.

Q: How many drops are in a softgel?
A: Each softgel contains the equivalent of 30 drops of a liquid herbal extract.

Q: How do I compare regular herbal capsules to liquid herbal extracts or softgels? How do milligrams of dry herbs compare to drops of extracts?
A: It is difficult to compare regular herbal capsules to liquid herbal extracts, especially when it comes to issues concerning assimilation and potency. With regular ground up herbs in a capsules, the body first has to break down the plant fibers to assimilate the plant constituents. When a person taking capsules is experiencing digestive problems, be aware that the process of breaking down and assimilating the herbs will be incomplete. When using liquid herbal extracts or softgels, the body assimilates the active constituents found in the liquid much more rapidly and thoroughly.

When the issue of potency is considered, regular herbal capsules lose potency through evaporation, oxidation, and degradation, both in the manufacturing process and every day that these products sit on the shelf. On the other hand, because liquid herbal extracts are processed immediately after harvesting, their active constituents are preserved. Liquid herbal extracts or softgels will keep their potency for a minimum of five year. Capsules cannot compete with that fact. Additionally, each softgel contains liquid herbal extract concentrate and offers the benefits of taking approximately one and one-half capsules of ground herbs.

The following is offered as a tool to better understand the approximate potency equivalence of liquid herbal extracts and softgels.  

25 mg of ground herbs = 1 drop of liquid herbal extract
50 mg of ground herbs = 2 drops of liquid herbal extract
500 mg of ground herbs = 20 drops of liquid herbal extract
One softgel = 30 drops of liquid herbal extract
One dropperful = 30 drops of liquid herbal extract
There are approximately forty dropperfuls (30 drops each) found in each one-ounce bottle of liquid herbal extract =1,200 drops


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