Hi guys. How are you doing today? The sun is finally shining and we're drying out from days of rain. The grass is thick and lush, shrubs and plants are bursting with color, and the ground is holding all that extra moisture for drier days ahead.
How are you feeling in your body? Are you a little puffy? Are your sinuses bothering you? Are you holding pent-up energy because your outdoor activities have been stalled? Well, not to worry, the sun is out and you'll be moving out that excess Kapha in no time!
This week, I want to talk to you about taking herbal supplements. This is a huge topic and I will only be able to touch on it here, but It's important to share the Ayurvedic perspective so you are not confused.
Ayurveda uses herbs for healing and for the prevention of disease-herbs are medicine. But herbs can also be poison-just as food can be medicine or poison. When working with a client with any condition, it is important to first look at what that person is eating, how they are digesting and what is going on emotionally and work from there before suggesting to them to take herbs. Improper food combining, when and how the person is eating, and sleeping and lack of routine is most often the root cause of common problems and fixing these things can resolve so many issues without any herbs at all. Do I recommend herbal supplements? Yes, sometimes, but It depends. Working closely with the client as they use the supplement is crucial.
What you may not realize about herbs is that they have a virya or energy and potency that is either heating or cooling on the body which is why they work. But herbs also have a vipaka or a post digestive effect, meaning that once digested the way the herb is absorbed and eliminated has a quality that may actually have the opposite effect! For example, you could be taking an herb that is used to have a cooling effect on the body but, it's vipaka could be heating which would aggravate the very dosha it was intended to pacify! This could actually end up causing serious problems. Herbs and their use can get extremely complicated, that is why I want you to be very cautious when taking herbs.
Another thing to consider is that sometimes you may be taking an herb but, the potency written on the bottle is at a very safe level that may not be enough to really do anything for the symptom you are taking it for. For example, you might need a lot more of the herb for just a short time to be effective. You don't know, so you never want to guess.
It's also very Important to understand that if you take any medications at all, you should absolutely let your doctor know what herb you want to take to make sure it will not interfere with your current medication. Doctors will not know every kind of herb available, so they may simply veer on the safe side and tell you to avoid it. Listen to them.
Ayurveda teaches us how to use spices and fresh herbs in cooking and in food to support and treat our body very safely. There are some great Ayurvedic cookbooks out there. Check out my favs.
Taking gentle herbs as teas (in moderation) is a safe way to support yourself if you want to try something, but even teas can cause harm if taken in excess. For example, too much green tea can hurt the liver. So be cautious and switch up your teas.
My point here is, save your money for now, friends. I know the marketing and testimonials can be so tempting and promising, believe me, I still sometimes find myself getting lured in but, remember the supplement business is a $40 billion dollar industry in the United States. Be careful and be intuitive.
Herbs are medicine and they need to work FOR you, not against you.
Have a wonderful week!
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