People are increasingly concerned these days about artificial additives and processing of foods and medicines. All my medicines and herbal products are 100% natural or certified organic, and individual ingredients sourced from reputable suppliers such as ‘Herbs in a Bottle’ and ‘Avicenna’.
Herbal medicines are usually administered in tincture form. A tincture is an extract of the herb in alcohol. It consists of all the chemicals that are present in the part of the plant used that dissolve in alcohol and represents a balanced extract of the plant. Many plant-derived medicines consist of single chemicals or groups of chemicals which do not reflect the multifaceted action of the whole herb and therefore may be associated with more unwanted side-effects. Tinctures are taken orally, usually 3 X 5ml doses per day and this represents a very small amount of alcohol.
Sometimes it is preferable to take powdered herbs, such as turmeric, in capsule form, as availability of herbal constituents may be better or they are an alternative to taking alcohol if that is an issue. The capsules I use are vegetarian and the same size as those usually bought in health food shops.
Herbs used as teas usually come in a cut, dried form and are a useful way of taking herbs as an alternative to alcohol and as a relaxing way of taking herbs. 2 heaped teaspoons of the herbal mix are used per cup of tea, boiling water is poured over and left to infuse for about 15 minutes. The tea can then be strained and drunk. It is useful to let the tea infuse in a closed vessel such as a small teapot or a covered cup so that volatile medicinal compounds do not escape. A simple tea strainer can be used or alternatives are ‘tea balls’ or self-fill teabags.
Creams are usually applied to skin conditions for a topical effect such as in eczema and psoriasis and are generally used as an adjunct to oral medicine which works systemically, as skin conditions are often due to imbalances within the body. Creams may also be used as a vehicle for transdermal absorption of plant compounds such as anti-inflammatory salicylates of white willow (Salix alba) which may be useful in arthritic conditions.