Dosing and Timing
Herbal formulas work the best when the right formula is taken at the right time. For example, gui zhi tang is a gentle formula with cinnamon to be taken at the first signs of illness. The Shang Han Lun instructs it to be taken with rice porridge right before bed, and the person must also bundle up and break a sweat. Cinnamon in this case is working like the whisky in a hot toddy - as a diaphoretic. If a person is not quite sick just yet but on the verge, this principle can help to turn the course of illness around. If you miss that window and get any more sick, gui zhi tang is no longer the correct formula, and it won't help much if at all.
Given this scenario it is easy to see why some people have a hard time believing in the efficacy of herbs - it's important to get it just right. It is also at that point easy to wonder if symptoms would have resolved without the herbs anyway. It's hard to prove that herbs help sometimes, and other times people are blown away with the results. Consult your natural medicine professional for best results. It's easy to get close with online research, but most alternative medical specialists have spent 4 years in a rigorous masters program and they'll be able to see your case more clearly than you can.
In general herbs work the best when taken right away, and more therapy is required if said health issue becomes chronic and/or severe. It is recommended that one seek natural medicine like herbs with the help of a trained professional as early as possible in any disease process. If they do not help then by all means seek conventional support and/or combine therapies, and of course always seek emergency medicine in an emergency.
Wellness is a Lifestyle
In general herbs and other natural supplements work the best as a lifestyle. For example, to effectively treat menstrual migraines one might need a course of care lasting for several years and consisting of different formulas in succession. During the course of treatment, the provider is attempting shift the root cause of the migraines and the expected result is that migraines become less severe, shorter, and less frequent.
In some cases it may not be possible to relieve the pain forever, for example, stress hormones like cortisol can affect the levels of sex hormones because all hormones are mediated within the endocrine system. If the person with menstrual migraines also has a stressful life, it may be difficult or impossible to fully relieve all symptoms of difficult hormonal issues. However, the quality of one's life can improve drastically with herbal medicine if one is willing to consider getting fewer migraines that no longer require bedrest as a goal achieved.
Other changes in lifestyle may improve results in a difficult case. One might include mitigating stress, evaluating exercise, and considering other support like talk therapy or spiritual support. At that point one can see that herbal formulas can act as a major piece in the pain mitigation puzzle as they support deep and lasting changes in complex hormone systems, and that they might also have limitations as they were never intended as simply a pain relief pill.
As always, consult your provider(s) for best results using herbal medicine, and contact us with any questions.
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