are anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, and anti-androgenic. Despite
its well known reputation as a treatment for BPH (benign prostatic
hyperplasia), it’s also the preferred herb for polycystic
ovary syndrome—clearly a disease that affects only women.
Other traditional uses include irritable or chronic bronchial
coughs, whooping cough, laryngitis, acute respiratory mucus,
In the case of St. John’s wort, it actually has antidepressant,
nervine-toning, antiviral, antimicrobial, and wound-healing
action. Yes, it’s best known as a treatment for mild depression,
but it also helps in cases of burns, hemorrhage, excessive
menstrual bleeding, diarrhea, jaundice, chronic urinary conditions,
and so on.
We base our “one herb, one disease” view of herbs on our experience
with drugs. Herbs are different, however, and we need to dispel
this myth or risk losing some valuable treatment options.
You need to take a "vacation"
from herbs every three to four weeks.
This fear, also based on the drug model, stems from the
fact that the body often develops a tolerance to drugs,
creating the need to increase the dose over time. This phenomenon
remains essentially unknown with herbal medicines. Herbs,
especially those herbalists tend to use for long-term routines,
are essentially food. We don’t need to take a vacation from
food, nor do we need a break from herbs.
Capsules are the least potent
form of herbs, since manufacturers make them from old material.
Scientific literature is full of successful studies using
encapsulated herbs. Plenty of companies fill their capsules
with potent, fresh, effective material. No one preparation
(capsule, tincture, tea) is inherently superior to others.
Low quality and superb quality versions exist for every
preparation. With a little research, you can easily identify
the more reputable companies and buy from these.
Pills and capsules are an American medicinal phenomenon,
as we tend to prefer this type of preparation, despite its
higher cost. Capsules have their advantages. The process
of making them preserves fresh herbs, reduces volume, and
concentrates the herb. Drying certain herbs actually enhances
their properties. Other benefits include convenience, absence
of taste, long shelf-life, and easy dosing.
On the downside, capsules are also slower-acting and sometimes
hard to swallow or digest. But are they less potent? Absolutely
Every society on earth, save ours, has used herbal medicine
for centuries. In these cultures, knowledge of herbs makes
up a significant part of the local heritage. Such organized,
logical, holistic healing systems help people use herbs
appropriately, with the benefit of lifetime experience.
We’re at a disadvantage here, as we lack the benefit of
a rich herbal history. But our history is now in the making.
The common use of herbs as a dependable treatment will come
with sharper scrutiny of hearsay information. As we examine
the latest herbal myths in the light of a bit of experience,
we’ll find that many of those things everyone “just knows”
to be true aren’t based in fact after all.