the herbal property of temperature as an example.
Perhaps you are a person who tends to be hot. You like having the air
conditioning very cold in the summer and perhaps you have a red
complexion. Suppose that herb Y is also hot. Taking this herb is just
going to make you feel hotter. Not something you probably want to do.
of course, the same holds true for a cold-natured person taking a
cold-natured herb. It's just going to make them colder. And there are
other properties to take into consideration as well when deciding which
herb is the best for your condition.
This is why I never
suggest people self-prescribe herbs. You really do have to understand
the entire picture of your constitution and the herb's properties, not
just "chase symptoms."
In Oriental medicine, we rarely use a
single herb for a treatment. We combine them synergistically into
formulas that are individually designed for each patient. That way we
get the best result with the fewest side effects.
Herbs can be taken in many forms.
1. Raw -- While we call them "raw," these are really dried herbs which
the patient takes home and boils. The "tea" is then ingested over the
course of a few days. Upside: Potency is strong and can be totally
customized for your needs. Downside: the time to cook them and the
2. Tincture -- These are alcohol-based
liquids where the herbs have been soaked in grain alcohol and their
active ingredients are "tinctured" into the alcohol. These come in
small dropper bottles and several drops are added to a small amount of
water before drinking. Upside: Strong potency, easily absorbed, easy to
use and easy to transport. Can be somewhat customized. Downside: One
swallow of strong tasting liquid. For people sensitive to alcohol,
they must put the drops in boiling water or use another form of herbs.
3. Pills, capsules, tablets -- Classical formulas (formulas based on
common conditions) made into pills, capsules or tablets. Upside: Ease
of use. Downside: Not customizable. May need to take more than one
formula to address the issues being treated. Less potency with need to
take many pills at one time to get a therapeutic dose.
I order only from herbal companies with strong standards for testing for potency and contaminants.