As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, herbs are truly nature’s gift to mankind. Even if you are not a fan of herbal medicine, their health benefits and properties are so incredible that 1/5 of drugs used in modern medicine today is made out of herbal extracts.
Just like with nutritional supplements, there are a few things you need to consider before you start using herbs (or Herbal Supplements) in order to optimize your health if you wish to stay safe.
Today, we look at 8 things to consider before taking herbs for optimal health.
Table of Contents
The first factor you must consider is your general health. It is your obligation to check with your doctor before you begin taking herbal supplements or using herbs. Your doctor is the only person who is responsible for your health.
Reading articles on the internet and applying them may lead you to make bad decisions thus your doctor must be informed at all times about them (beforehand). However, you need to understand that doctors don’t always hold all the answers. Sometimes you will need the help of a herbalist or other specialist who may have to work along with your doctor before you start any kind of herbal protocol.
Regardless, you should first check your health by getting a complete hormonal and blood panel in order to see where you are and establish a health baseline. Once you have been on a herbal protocol for a few months, take another complete test (blood, urine etc) and compare results to see if what you took improved your health or made it worse (due to wrong dosage, your personal intolerance to certain herbs etc).
Another reason to check with your doctor before taking herbs is to see if it agrees with your current medication protocol. If you are taking any kind of drug (because of psychological, physical or other conditions), your doctor must approve any kind of herb.
This is because most of them (if not all) can interfere with your medication and influence its dose. Consider fenugreek or garlic for example; these herbs tend to lower blood pressure and may interfere with hypertension medication thus greatly affecting blood pressure levels.
Always discuss herbal supplements, herbs and spices with your doctor before taking them!
Current lifestyle choices and diet
Herbs are not for everyone and they only work under certain conditions. If you are a party animal or an “overtime-junkie” and you live on power drinks and drink alcohol like there is no tomorrow, you might run into some health problems if you start taking herbs as most of them will cause side effects when taken with alcohol or caffeine (heart problems, vision problems and even liver failure).
Also, you should put in some work in order to establish some sort of balance in your life before taking herbs. You cannot be drinking 5 cups of coffee and then wanting to start taking Panax Ginseng (which is a stimulant) or Guarana (again a stimulant) in order to treat adrenal fatigue which is the result of stimulants abuse in the first place.
The use of some herbs go hand in hand with lifestyle changes. In our current example, stimulants (coffee, power drinks etc) must be removed from the person’s diet before we introduce gentle herbal remedies for the adrenals (such as Maca) and perhaps later reintroduce other types of tonics such as Ginseng and Guarana.
Also, do not ignore your nutrition when dealing with herbs. In fact a balanced nutrition is a must if you plan on using them. There are no herbs that can cure a bad diet and it is known that herbs work best when people have clean diets. Don’t forget that herbs are considered a part of your diet already in more ways than you think (example: salads).
Another factor to consider is your budget. Some herbs tend to be very inexpensive and can be found pretty much everywhere (like spices or veggies). On the other hand, others tend to be very expensive due to the fact that they can be very rare or hard to find (example cordyceps, wild red Reishi etc).
You also need to take into account the time and duration of the protocol. If you need to use wild red Reishi or Schizandra for a 3 to 6 month therapy, you need to calculate how many doses you will need for that time period in order to establish your monthly herbal budget.
Depending on the quality of the herb, prices can go from as little as (10-15$ per 125gr) to a lot (50-100$ per 125gr) and in some cases, in the range of thousands.
Personal health or body goals are also important. Herbs can be used for a variety of conditions, problems and enhancements but it is your duty to decide what your goal is beforehand. This will help you and/or your herbalist determine the right combination of herbs.
Some herbs also have multiple effects. For example, some tonics can promote muscle growth and fat loss at the same time. Others may work for a specific set of goals but may be contraindicated for others. For example, using Rhodiola to help with stress will result into lowering blood pressure which can be great for people with hypertension but not for those with low blood pressure.
You should also determine in what form you will be using herbs. Is it going to be in tincture, patch, powder or capsule form?
Will you add them in your food as an ingredient or as a spice? Will you be making a concoction or a tea with your herbs?
Will you combine them in the same mix or use them as stand alone?
Each one has its pros and cons and your choice will also determine the appropriate protocol of usage and the dosage.
Different herbs require different doses for different goals. This is why you must first establish all of the above-mentioned factors before looking into the dose of the herb(s).
Unlike supplements, herbs work in different ways when it comes to dosage. Some herbs need a small quantity taken over a couple of weeks in order to work their magic (such as Pine Pollen or Reishi ), while others will give you something to be happy about at the first dose (such as Schizandra or Ginseng).
Also, bear in mind, that both the dosage and the duration of the protocol are related to its safety. Using certain herbs for long periods of time is contraindicated as they may lose their effectiveness due to homeostasis (which means you will stop seeing results) or they might build up some level of toxicity in your system over time.
Research or consult a specialist
Even if you have done all the above steps, I would still advise you to either do your own research on the herbs you wish to take or even better, consult a herbalist or someone who specializes in the use of herbs (and has knowledge of your goals and has worked with people with similar conditions).
To put it in simpler terms: not all experts are the same. I do not expect a female expert to advise me on matters of testosterone optimization in the same way that a male expert would. Now that does not mean that only male experts know about male hormones and vice versa but in some cases, some tend to have more personal experience in certain matters than others (I don’t expect a male expert to understand menstrual problems even though they should. However, fact remains that male experts will never personally experience menstrual problems).
A final note
Last but not least, while I do recommend experimenting to find your optimal dosage, I do not endorse experimenting mindlessly with herbs. Herbs are very powerful, need to be treated with respect and never be abused as they can give you life or take it away.
Follow these 8 rules when taking herbs and they will keep you safe, save you money, optimize your bodily functions and reach your health goals, whatever those may be.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on Share buttons and show your support to this blog.
Is there something that you would add to this list? Do you have any comments about this guide? If so, leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Until next time, live strong, healthy and free!
by Nick Sigma SHF
C.W.C, E.H, E-YRT200