Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Kept properly, herbal medicines have a long shelf-life but it is better to replace the medicine after a year. Some preparations, such as ointments, last considerably longer; others deteriorate more quickly follow the instructions, if any, carefully.
How does one take the medicines?
When prescribed by a medical herbalist, the directions will be clearly given. For other preparations, follow manufactures instructions and also refer to the dosages in this book. Handle as little as possible. In general, the medicines should be taken after meals, unless advised otherwise. Remember, when giving herbal medicines to children, the dosage must be reduced (see how to select and use Herbal Medicines section).
When should one step taking the medicines?
Again, if consulting a practitioner, follow the advice given. Otherwise, if an improvement is noted, then increase the interval between the doses. If the improvement continues, stop taking the medicines; if symptoms worsen, again go back to the normal dosage.
How long should one wait before seeing a result?
When the kind of problems discussed in this book, an improvement in health should be noticed within a week. Chronic or more serious conditions, requiring qualified treatment, many of course take a lot longer. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a qualified medical herbalist or doctor.
Can one take herbal medicine with ordinary drugs?
Generally, the ailments and medicines applicable for self-treatment will present no problems when taken with other drugs. Practitioners will, of course, take into account any medicines being taken. If in doubt, get the advice of the herbalist or doctor.
If symptoms worsen, is this right?
Herbal medicines stimulate healing responses, and occasionally this can mean an aggravation of the symptoms as the body overcomes the problem. This short-term worsening shows that the medicine is working more effectively; if the symptoms get steadily worse without improvement, then change the medicine or seek advice.
Is it safe to take herbal medicines during pregnancy?
As a rule it is safer to avoid any medication, orthodox or herbal, during pregnancy, unless specifically prescribed by a qualified practitioner. If in doubt, seek advice especially in the first three months of pregnancy.
Are herbal medicines safe for children?
Generally, yes. The dosage needs to be adjusted but many can be very helpful for children. It is a good policy to under dose rather than give too much; for infants seek qualified advice.
Some medicines are labeled for use in indigestion, colds, etc. as herbal medicine is said to treat people, are these all right to take?
Herbal medicine as a profession does indeed treat people individually. However, many herbal medicines as this book demonstrates, have a wide application in minor complaints and are, therefore, likely to help large number of people. Thousands of people have been introduced to herbal remedies in this way and have achieved successful results. It is still the case that medical herbalists treat the individual and if such general medicines prove ineffective, seek advice.
Is the herbal medicine the same as homoeopathy?
No. both systems of treatment seek to establish the root caused of illness and work on the whole person. Some homoeopathic medicines are derived from herbs but they are prepared and highly diluted in a special way, and the manner of prescribing homoeopathic medicines is quite different. Many homoeopathic medicines are originally from poisonous plants or mineral/animal sources; herbal medicines are from non-toxic herbs only.
Can herbal medicines prescribed for a particular patient be taken by another person with more or less similar symptoms?
No. This should not be done. The practitioner takes into consideration many factors other than the obvious symptoms while prescribing a drug. Hence a drug prescribed for one should not be taken by another.
List of Herbal medicines in common use
The herbs that are listed in this chapter are the common ones for the common symptoms. A majority of them are widely available, and some are a available only in a few parts of India. Some of these herbs are very useful in cases of gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, and diarrhea. Some of these helpful in cases of respiratory tract symptoms such as flu, pharyngitis and tracheatis. Others provide comfort in aches, pains and fevers. All of them build up the resistance of the body to diseases and not only they provide immediate help, but also help to prevent the recurrence of the symptoms.]
These herbs are taken in the form of infusions and decoctions or as powders and pills. They must be taken in the prescribed dosages and within those limits they are not likely to cause any toxic effects.
The herbs or herbal medicines given in the table are some of the most commonly used and most easily


Taken in proper dosage and in relation to the symptoms and disease, they do not generally cause unexpected toxic effects.
Modern techniques take out the active principles, mostly the alkaloids, from the herbs and make use of them only. Is it a correct procedure?
In the herbs, different medicinal properties are located in all its parts. When a herbal preparation is taken, the different medicinal properties get released in the body in a well balanced manner, keeping in view the well being of the whole body.
On the other hand, when a separated alkaloid or other active principle is taken as in done in case of modern medicines, it plays a useful role in one part or tissue of the body, without any regard to what happens to the rest of the body.
Absolutely not. Thought amla contains in it a large quantity of Vitamin C, yet it also contains many other health giving elements, viz. other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, which are very useful to the body. So Vitamin C cannot replace the use of amla.
Can the herbs listed in this book under each symptom be combined with others in the same list for better results?
This can be done provided your understanding of the symptoms and the herbs is sufficient to make a combination. The idea of giving details of each herb under a separate section is to equip you with the right knowledge so that if necessary, you can make such a combination.
Do the same herbal preparations issued or manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies have the same compositions?
No, this is not always so. The same herb differs in composition depending upon the region, the climate, the season, etc. whether collected from the upper or lower part of the plant, the first, second or third picking. Since these are natural products, they may differ slightly in the various combinations. Slight various combinations. Slight variations in composition do not affect efficacy.
Where should one store herbal medicines be stored?
Herbal medicines should be stored in a cool place, preferably out of direct sunlight. As with all medicines, keep them out of the reach of children.


Herbal medicine is a complete system of treatment as well as approach to the achievement of health. It aims to encourage and support natural self-healing mechanisms, and by working from the roots of imbalance the patient regains health and so the symptoms disappear. Under qualified treatment, this approach can be of benefit whatever may be obtained in certain illnesses. It is the person who is treated, rather than the disease.
Is there any specific demarcation between the herbs that we eat and those called medicinal herbs?
There is no such demarcation. In fact, under Ayurveda, both foods and herbs are considerate to be made up of the same five basic elements called Pancha-maha-bhutas, viz. earth, water, energy, air, and ether. Different entities have different quantities and combinations of these five elements.