The role of herbs and herbal supplements in Ayurveda is ancillary but important. That is, diet and lifestyle are the foundation but herbs support and augment diet and lifestyle influences. The herbs are said to be a kind of intelligence, which gently promotes healthy physiology. They work on many levels of our being: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. They may affect cells, tissues, organs and systems, individually or in combination. Herbs and herbal compounds are a balance of energies and if taken properly are generally free from side effects; e.g. they do not provoke toxicity-related reactions from the body, even when taking allopathic drugs (some homeopathic drugs may be affected). It is important to note, however, that herbs may make your prescription drugs more effective, necessitating dose monitoring and adjustments of those medications. In other ways herbs may be regarded as nutritional food supplements. It is well known that the body makes all new blood cells every 60-120 days while replacement of every cell of our bones takes a year, so it takes time for the positive effects of herbs and nutrients to be realized as healing—90 days at the least. Herbal regimes are intended to support Nature’s work of healing or maintaining proper physiology—they are not interventions in Nature’s work. The following information is a guideline for understanding our herbal suggestions:
· Herbs are generally suggested in doses of fractions of teaspoons = 1/4 t or 1/2 t for example. Tablespoon doses are given by capital T as in 1T. In the area of dosing our initial suggestions are starting points that many be modified as needed to produce the appropriate effect. Please monitor this and advise us of developments in a timely way.
· Herbal powders are to be taken in measured dose and frequency according to instructions: In Ayurveda classical texts herbal components are usually decocted (simmered in hot water) and taken orally as they are more powerful in this form. Many don’t care for the taste or don’t want to take the time so one may also put the indicated amount in dry form on the tongue and chase with some liquid--such as water shown by the symbol = /c or w/. Fruit juices, aloe vera gel or juice, milk, coffee, honey are a few of many other possible vehicles for taking herbs. While having unpleasant taste, the taste actually helps the physiology to change, to improve. Do whichever way you are comfortable with. Usually herbal tinctures (liquid extracts) are to be taken sub-lingually.
· Herbs may be suggested OID = once a day BID = twice a day TID = three times per day or as needed as given by SOS Herbs to take (up to) an hour before sleep are indicated with = H.S.
· The timing of herbs varies according to many factors but generally if the target area in the physiology is below the stomach then the herbs are taken 15 minutes before meals = a.c.. If digestion is the main area then the herbs may be taken during meals = w.c. If the target area is above the stomach then the herbs are suggested to be taken up to 15 minutes after meals = p.c. Compounds having many purposes may be taken as directed.
· When herbs are to be taken on an empty stomach this means they may be taken 30 minutes before eating.
· If the suggestion calls for taking the herb around a meal it should be taken even if the meal itself is not eaten.
· If more than one herbal recommendation is to be taken then try to separate each item by at least 30 minutes. If more than one item is suggested following a meal then they may be taken together.
· Digestive herbs are ok to take during menstruation but herbs such as triphala, which have laxative effect, should not be taken at this time. Laxatives may exacerbate menstruation. Menstruation tends to deplete the body so herbs, which are heavy on digestion, may be avoided at this time.
· Herbalized oils are usually best applied 15 to 20 minutes before shower or bath.
· Nose drops should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before or after shower.
· Finally, an herbal recommendation is given for a minimum of 3 months. This is the minimum time necessary for a change in physiology to take place. If a change in symptoms takes place or if there is a change in season these would also be reasons for a change in an herbal recommendation. Ayurveda is not a quick fix.
· A given formula, as well as, rasayanas (rejuvenatives), when recommended, should be discontinued for about two weeks seasonally. This gives the body a rest, which makes the rasayana more effective.
© Copyright 1997 Michael S. Dick All Rights Reserved