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Herbal Medicine or Herbs as food/drinks.

The other day a friend asked my advice on a 'concoction' he was making for his 'detox' regime.

Language understanding is very important to me as the best use of language will give the optimal understanding. Therefore i wish to clarify some confusion when it comes to terminology used around both the general use of herbs and their usages for optimal health benefits which must be concentrated for best the form of medicine.

Herbs as medicine which is a vastly used by some 3/4 of the planet is ironically still not seen as valid medicine in Australia, by the ignorant or uneducated or simply those who don't care to know. This form of medicine (herbal or phytotherapy) has many forms of application. These forms can include :

infusions, decoctions, fluid extracts, tinctures, tablets, oxymels, capsules, creams, lotions, liniments just to name some of the many different forms.

Each form requires a certain amount of herbal content to give the medicinal benefits needed. For example; an infusion or tea as it is better known will require 30 g of herbs in the 600 mL of water to produce the optimum herbal effect. Therefore you can see why tea bags with 1 - 2 g would be less effective for reducing disease, and possible why sceptics or ignorant will say ..."see they don't do much". Having said this ........the extra fluid that is partaken by a tea bag strength herbal tea is still beneficial for increasing general hydration that is almost always needed in dis-eased stated.

In addition, infusions are best also made in a tea pot or plunger with the lid on so as to steep the infusion for at least 20 - 30 minutes and allow in particular the volatile oil constituents to be contained in the solvent .This length of time allows the specific constituents or chemicals with health benefits, to be released into the solvent (water). Infusions applications are also best used for the soft aerial part of the plant, eg. leaf, flower, and soft stems, as opposed to the root or bark which would need to be made into a decoction. (please see my video on my website that explains this topic as well). Decoctions particularly popular in Chinese medicine use the hardy plant parts and place them into boiling water and simmer with a lid on saucepan of pot for 30 - 40 minutes.

Now some may say heating will destroy the constituents in the plants, the answer is no. Certain chemicals need heat for extraction, some don't however they will be better extracted with alcohol as the solvent , and quite possibly water as an additive. These herbal medicine forms are; fluid extracts and tinctures and are the most potent liquid form, best prescribed by a qualified naturopath or herbalist. Although I have seen unqualified prescribe this way, however their limited understanding of herbal medicine will not give the optimal result for the patient's health needs.

Overall he different herbal medicinal forms are more extensive in explanation than i plan to give now. The main aspect here is when one is sick, the herbal application needs to be a concentration of the herb, not just the food or simple drink application.

Herbs as food are a life continuum, herbs as medicine are only needed long term if the illness is chronic and professional help is crucial for optimum benefits , as well as including the knowing that you aren't wasting time and money on something you don't actually need.

Here's to health as a human right

kindest regards

Annmaree Miller

MHSc, GDHSc(HM), B Nurs., DRM, DI, CCYT(+)

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