Liquid Herbs Are Worth the Taste


There are many reasons for using liquid herbal extracts instead of powders, teas, capsules or tablets. Customizing blends for each person, bypassing poor stomach digestion, even dosing children. But do all these reasons make the taste any better? You bet they do! Every one of my patients wants to know why many of my herbal suggestions come only in liquid form. They have all complained about the taste, the texture, the smell. Chinese herbs also have a reputation for stinking up the kitchen when they are prepared. But there are some very good reasons for the use of herbs in liquid extract form.

First, it is possible to mix a number of herbs together which can be taken in one simple swallow. And one gulp is much easier to get down than ten pills. In fact, many of my patients have trouble swallowing pills, especially children, so liquids are by far the easiest. Liquids are also very versatile. One tonic extract can be used topically on the skin, as a mouth rinse, a nasal spray or even added to creams, lotions, eye baths, syrups and cosmetics. They can be used in a bath, as a soak for the feet or hands, as a compress and even in a relaxing steam. I’ve even had one patient add a liquid to their waterpik reservoir.

Using liquids also allows me to make personalized blends of herbs for each patient. This is the future of natural therapy, to be able to customize a therapeutic regimen for each individual patient. Three patients could all present with joint health-related issues, but each one could have a different combination — one person’s joint health issue may be accompanied by temporary stress headaches, the next with difficulty sleeping and another who is tired or stressed out. Using individualized formulas ensures that each patient is receiving the optimal remedy for their needs.

But the most important reason for using liquid herbs really is the bioavailability of herbal extracts. This means they are absorbed at a rapid and effective rate, so the active principles can be delivered much faster than the majority of tablets or capsules which must first be broken down by the digestive process. This is the perfect medium for many patients who have slow digestion or do not create sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid in their stomach, a common complaint as people age. In fact, I believe the reason many medications have so many side-effects and are not terribly effective in elderly patients is chronic poor stomach digestion. I have found by simply increasing the ability of the stomach to produce natural acids (accomplished by a lovely mix of gentian, chamomile, dandelion root, Echinacea root and milk thistle in liquid form of course), arthritis pain medication becomes amazingly effective.

So I ask my patients to suck it up and just gulp it down. To make it easier, there are a few recommendations. First, try blending each liquid dose in only one ounce of dark grape juice or water with a juice chaser waiting right on the counter. Just watching the glass of juice waiting is often enough to make the liquid tolerable. It is also important to note that most herbal extracts utilize an alcohol solution for extraction, a must for many delicate plant mediums. So to decoct the alcohol, simply blend each dose with an ounce of very hot water and let it cool before taking. Alternatively you can put the entire bottle in a pan over low heat until it steams, then immediately remove it from the heat and let it sit and steam until cool. Then it can be replaced into the bottle. If you choose this method, be sure not to allow the liquid to boil at all, or it will begin to concentrate and you will end up with a teaspoon of sludge.

My patients may agree that their tonics are horrifying to take, but they also agree that it’s the best thing they have ever done. One patient even postponed her vacation by one day so she could get a refill of her tonic formulation. Now that’s the power of healing!