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Reply To: Herbal Therapeutics

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Hi Samantha,

This is a great question.
The example formulas in the therapeutics course are based on a combination of which herbs one might ideally take for a certain situation, and which preparations could be used to extract the active components from each plant. In real life however, there are limitations perhaps on what kind of preparation a person can or is likely to take (for some this is alcohol, for others they may have troubles digesting or swallowing capsules, for others they just may not have enough time in the day to prepare and drink 2-3 cups of tea in the day). So at this point you could take a look at which herbs you feel are really important to include in a formula and consider how to deliver them in a way that they are still the most beneficial.

This is not always a straight forward answer since some medicinal compounds from plants are best tinctured in alcohol, but usually there is another way to take them and still retain the benefit. In other words when looking for alternatives to tinctures/alcohol, you could look at the herbs in that tincture and prepare them in a different way.

Let’s take the suggested formulas for Hayfever from the Therapeutics course:
-The tincture is: plantain (Plantago major), dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) and borage (Borago officinalis). The tea is: elderflower (Sambucus nigra) and nettle leaf (Urtica dioica).
– This can definitely be changed to include all of these plants as an overnight infusion instead (pour a days worth of boiling water over the plants and let steep overnight), since the actions/compounds that create an overall anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect are able to be extracted in water as well. Another option would be to take the dandelion root out for a 15-20 minute decoction and then combine it with the rest of the herbs to steep for 10-15 minutes.

In other examples the switch to tea is not the best option. Eg. The tincture for constipation contains milk thistle (Silybum marianum), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), this might be better ground up and made into capsules since the tea will not easily extract the necessary components from these plants, especially the milk thistle. The other option would be to decoct the licorice and dandelion root and turn the milk thistle into capsules.

Ultimately, this is a great way to learn more about the plants by looking into the best preparation type for each. This can be found on the 4th page of each monograph.

I hope this helps guide you in your formula making!
With warmth,