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Apothecary Herbs answers questions on herbal products: storage, usage, dosage, organ cleansing and immune boosting. We've tried to place topic links to each group of questions to help you find your answers quickly. You have excellent questions. Please keep them coming.


Q: What should you look for in a product?

A: Make sure the manufacturer uses certified organic or wild crafted herbal ingredients. You don't want herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ethylene oxide gas on your herbs. These chemicals are bad for your body, especially the central nervous system. If your product uses herbs from overseas, then it contains substandard herbs treated with chemicals. Make sure there is no heat used in the manufacturing or packaging processes. Heat destroys plant enzymes and important alkaloids.

Q: Is the formula flavored for the taste buds? If so, this weakens the strength of the formula and you'll wind up taking more of the product to achieve a result, if any. Bitter herbs have medicinal power. Changing that changes everything.

A: Is the suggested dose by weight? This is the optimum way to ingest herbal products for results.


Q: Which is better, getting my herbs in tablet or capsule form?

A: Actually, neither. The best way to take herbal supplements is in liquid form. Herbal liquids are known as tinctures or extracts. I prefer the term tincture and I use this term on my web site and product labels. If the tincture is made correctly, it is the most potent form for a herbal supplement. Tinctures penetrate the blood stream faster, are manufactured without heat (or should be) and are naturally preserved in the product's catalyst (alcohol and or vinegar).


Q: What do you suggest people do if they want to use tinctures for herbal potency but don't like the idea of using alcohol?

A: You can use the tinctures containing alcohol, but before taking your dose heat an ounce of water or distilled water. The water should be warm, but not boiling. Place your dose of the herbal tincture in the water and let it sit for five minutes. The alcohol will evaporate and your herbs will remain. Or, you can make an herbal infusion. This is a fancy way of saying herbal tea. Herbal teas are another way of getting herbs into the body, but they will not be as potent as an aged tincture. You will have to drink your herb tea frequently and make sure the herbs are of good quality.

Q: Why do herbalists use alcohol to make herbal liquids? Can't they use something else?

A: Alcohol is the best catalyst for most herbs. The alcohol can draw out the plant chemicals better than water. For some herbs, a mixture of alcohol and vinegar is necessary to pull all of the plant's alkaloids into the liquid. Herbalists strive to use all of the plant alkaloids because they are designed to work together. See the above question on how to remove the alcohol from your tincture.hy do herbalists use alcohol to make herbal liquids? Can't they use something else?


Q: On your label you say an adult dose is one full dropper. When I squeeze the dropper bulb it only fills half the dropper. Is this considered a full dropper?

A: Yes. If you need to check drops, an adult dose is 32 drops (1/4 tsp.). This is the average dose for someone over 100 pounds. This is your average adult dose. For aggressive doses you can go up to 4 droppers full or one teaspoonful.

Q: Is the dropper size on the one and two ounce bottles the same?

A: A: Yes. Just squeeze the dropper bulb once for a full adult dose of 32 drops.

Q: Why do I have to shake my herbal liquid (tincture) prior to dispensing my dose?

A: Shaking the tincture distributes any herb particles that settle on the bottom. Shaking assures the correct herb mixture in your dose.

Q: What is the dose for children?

A: You will do doses by weight for anyone under 100 pounds. You would take the child's weight and divide it by 150 to get the percentage of an adult dose. For example; if a child weighs 50 pounds you would divide 50 by 150 to get .33% of the average adult dose of 32 drops (.33 of 32 is 10 to 11 drops).

Q: What is the dose for pets?

A: You can use the same formula for pets as for children to find your dose. You would take the pet's weight and divide it by 150 to get the percentage of a full dose. For example; if a pet weighs 50 pounds you would divide 50 by 150 to get .33% of the average adult dose of 32 drops (.33 of 32 is 10 to 11 drops).


Q: Please tell me, "How to take a tincture, and what are some tincture uses?"
A: How to Take: Tincture doses can be added to a few ounces of juice or water especially if they are hot to the taste. Otherwise, the dose can be taken directly in the mouth and followed by a sip of water or juice.

Tincture Uses: Tinctures are concentrated herbal medicines allowing us to reduce the quantity down into a smaller dose without losing potency. Herbs have different nutritional chemicals and depending on the herb used will determine the action or benefit.

Q: Can I take my herbs with my other medications?
A: This is tough to answer without knowing patient details. It is best if you consult with a licensed medical physician familiar with herbs or a naturopathic physician. I would not be able to advise you based on the lack of scientific research using pharmaceutical drugs and herbs together. It is my understanding that mixing both therapies produces poor results. It is usually recommended that using one or the other therapy alone is best.

Q: Why should I use herbs instead of a pharmaceutical drug?
A: It depends on where you place value. If you want a quick fix and be able to carry on with your life as usual, then you probably value the drug route. If you want to address the cause and not just the symptom of your problem, then the natural therapy will serve you best. The natural approach will require effort on your part, but it will also make you more aware of your body and you will begin to read what is healthy for you and what is not. In the long run you will be less dependent on others for your health, which can also translate into saving you money.

Q: How long does it take for your Female Balance Formula to work? (This question applies to the Female Fertile Formula and Female Maturity Formula as well.)
A: You will notice significant results within three months. If you plan to become pregnant, use the Infertility Formula for three months prior to wanting to conceive. These are usual results. You may experience results sooner. Please use common sense and consult your licensed medical physician prior to using natural therapies, especially if you are already taking prescription drugs.

Q: Can I put my herbal supplements in juice?
A: You can put your herbal liquids (tinctures) or powered mixes in juice, water or warm (not boiling) herbal tea. The best way to take the herbal tinctures is to place your dose under the tongue (sublingual) for the fastest absorption into the blood stream.

Q: Can I warm herbal liquids in my microwave?
A: No. Never heat your herbal liquids directly. It is recommended to put your herbal dose in juice or water or take the herbs directly and chase with water or juice. Herbs are heat-sensitive and should not be added to anything hot unless recommended.


Q: Do I need to store my herbal products in the refrigerator?
A: No, herbs that are made properly can be stored in a cabinet away from heat and light. If you do not have environmental controls and live in a hot and humid climate you should store your herbal products in the refrigerator. Place them in a brown paper bag first to protect them from the refrigerator light. Do not store your herbal products in your car or anywhere there is extreme heat. Herbal tinctures have a 10-year shelf life and powdered herbs five years.


Q: Can I use the Bowel Cleanse while I am working or do I have to take vacation?
A: Yes, you can use the Bowel Cleanse or any of the organ cleanses while you continue with your normal activities. If you prefer to set some time aside for your cleansing, that is fine. These are gentle but effective cleanses and it will not cause you to stay at home. You won't find yourself dashing to the bathroom. It is not recommended to do your cleansing while on a vacation trip away from home. Trip distractions may prevent you from doing the cleansing properly.

Q: Can I do all the cleanses at the same time or one right after the other?
A: It is recommended to do one cleanse at a time and after you finish one cleanse to take a 2 to4 week break before doing the next cleanse. Your body is still purging toxins after you complete the cleanse and the break in between will allow for the body to complete the purge.

Q: How often should I cleanse?
A: You can do the organ cleanses as often as once a season (4 times a year) or twice annually for maximum benefit.


Q: Why do some of your herbal formulas contain cayenne?
A: Cayenne is an excellent herb to boost circulation and to carry other herbs through the blood- stream fast. Cayenne is effective in removing blockages where circulation has been cut off. When circulation is cut off, infection and disease result.

Q: Why does the Echinacea herb taste hot or spicy?
A: This is a common mistake made about Echinacea. If your Echinacea tincture (liquid) is made properly, you will experience a numbing in your mouth for a few minutes. Most people mistake this for a hot or spicy taste.

Q: Why does your Smokers' Helper make my throat feel scratchy? (This applies also to Relaxation formula.)
A: This is the signature taste of a herb in these formulas. Lobelia herb delivers a slightly scratchy feeling, which lasts only a few seconds.

Q: How does the Immune Booster boost immunity?
A: The blend of herbs in this formula assists the immune system in what it does naturally. The nutrients in these herbs allow your immune system to manufacture more macrophages and T-cells in the blood to code and destroy bacteria, viruses or other toxins.

Q: If I use the Liquid Stitches, do I need to still get stitches?
A: Use common sense here. The Liquid Stitches will definitely help with the bleeding, infection and healing. If the injury is small enough, you can use some surgical tape to help close the opening. If the wound is large, you should seek medical treatment.

Q: How does the Smokers' Helper work to help you quit smoking?
A: This formula has an herb that contains the plant alkaloid lobeline, which is similar to nicotine. When you experience the urge to smoke, just take a dose of this herbal liquid and the craving leaves. With this approach, the cravings decrease and soon you are smoke free. This is a nontoxic and inexpensive alternative.

Q: Why are herbal formulas bitter or hot tasting?
A: The bitter and hot herbs contain the medicinal plant chemicals. The sweet herbs are known as nutritional herbs. These are herbs like strawberries, blueberries or raspberries etc. To mask the flavor (signature taste) of the herb would be to weaken the strength of the herb.

Q: What is the difference between homeopathic and herbal liquids?
A: Herbal liquids contain (or should contain) only plant ingredients. Herbal liquids use the full power of the herb. Homeopathic liquids are distilled variations of the herbs and use only the energy essence of the plant. Homeopathic products also contain non-plant ingredients such as bug parts or animal sex organs.


Q: Can I use your herbal products on my pet?
A: Yes, the herbal dietary supplements work well on pets. You will need to adjust the dose for pets under 100 pounds. You would take the pet's weight and divide it by 150 to get the percentage of a full dose. For example; if a pet weighs 50 pounds you would divide 50 by 150 to get .33% of the average adult dose of 32 drops (.33 of 32 is 10 to 11 drops).


Q: If I take diuretics like Thiazide, what herbs might react with my medication?
A: Use caution with mixing the following herbs with diuretics: aloe, cascara sagrada, licorice, senna and yarrow. Use caution mixing prescription drugs with aloe gel, flaxseed, marshmallow root, and slippery elm inner bark. hat herbs may interfere with medication absorption?

Q: If I am taking estrogen medications, what herbs should I avoid?
A: Avoid black cohosh.

Q: If taking heart medications, what herbs should I avoid?
A: Avoid blue cohosh - may interact and narrow arteries.

Q: I take blood-sugar medication (insulin), what herbs will interfere with this?
A: Use caution mixing insulin with bitter melon, cornsilk, dandelion, and prickly pear.

Q: I use an anticoagulant drug called Warfarin. Should I avoid herbs?
A: Use caution taking anticoagulants with chamomile or garlic - they thin blood, too.

Q: I use prescription steroids. Is there a list of herbs to avoid if using this medication?
A: Use caution mixing steroid medications with echinacea. (Steroids: Anabolic steroids, Amiodarone, Methotrexate, and Ketoconazole)

Q: I take blood pressure medication. Can you tell me what herbs will react with my medication?
A: Use caution mixing blood pressure medication (Marplan, Nardil and MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) with Ephedra (Ma huang).

Q: Any advice on using herbs if you take anticonvulsants?
A: Use caution mixing anticonvulsants with Evening primrose oil or Borage root (interaction may lower seizure threshold).

Q: I take anticoagulants. What herbs may hinder my medication?
A: Use caution mixing anticoagulants like aspirin, coumadin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Warfarin) with Feverfew, Garlic, Gingko biloba, and Ginger root. Also if preparing for surgery, tell your physician if you have been taking these herbs.

Q: If someone takes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which herbs will interfere with this medication?
A: Use caution mixing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, Digoxin, Heparin, and Warfarin with Ginseng.

Q: I take Digoxin for my heart. What herbs can I take with this medication?
A: You should use caution mixing heart medications like Digoxin with Hawthorn berries, Plantain, Kyushin, and Uzara root.

Q: If you take sedatives, are there certain herbs that I should avoid?
A: Yes, use caution mixing sedatives or tranquilizers with Kava or Valerian. Also avoid alcohol. Kava and Valerian are not for pregnancy.  

Q: I'm diabetic. What herbs will react negatively with my medication?
A: Use caution mixing diabetic or any medication with Kareia.

Q: I'm using licorice to help balance my hormones. What medications will interfere with licorice?
A: Use caution mixing these medications with licorice: Digoxin, Diuretic drugs like Spironolactone, blood pressure medication, and hormonal therapy medications. If you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic, or have kidney or liver disease, you should seek medical advice before using licorice.

Q: I take estrogen. Are there herbal supplements I should avoid?
A: Use caution mixing hormonal therapies like estrogen or oral contraceptives with Saw palmetto.

Q: I have seizures and take medication for this. What herbs may interfere with my medication?
A: Use caution mixing anti-seizure drugs like Phenytoin with Shankapulshpi.

Q: I take anti-depressants and worry about my herbal supplements interfering with my medications. What herbs should I worry about?
A: Use caution mixing anti-depressants, Prozac, Tofranil, Monoamine, oxidase inhibitors, and serotonin Reuptake inhibitors with St. Johnswort. Also if you take light sensative drugs like Piroxicam and Tetracycline you should exercise caution using St. Johnswort.

The information contained herein is in no way a complete list of herb and drug interactions. Each individual should investigate the interactions between herbs and prescription medications or seek medical advise from a licensed medical physician before using any product.