If you’ve ever been to see me in clinic chances are I’ve given you a bottle of herbs to take. I just love herbs, they can be individualised, they work amazingly well but oh boy do they taste funky. And I’m not talking about the taste of coriander type funky. Herbal medicines are made from a big range of various plants, usually from the bark, stems, roots, leaves or flowers (depending on what part of the plant has the action we’re trying to utilise). The funky I’m talking about has been described by my patients as ‘mud’, ‘swamp water’, or as one of my colleagues loves to joke, ‘witches brew’. But don’t let me put you off before you try it, because for the majority of my patients the taste grows on you, perhaps as your body starts to recognise that the herbs are doing it good, or perhaps because you just get used to it. And in addition to that, it’s just a small dose (taken as a shot usually).
But despite the fact the taste gets much more tolerable over time, there are a few ways you can make taking herbs a bit easier. In this guest post by Laura from Burton Health, she shares some tips to help make the experience a bit smoother.
Guest post by Laura Burton
I love using liquid herbal medicines in my clinic because they are individually designed on a client by client basis and there is the potential to work on a few conditions with one bottle of herbs which keeps patient costs down and also means less supplements to take each day.
The one and only down side to liquid herbs is the taste! Ohh man can it be bad! Even I have to psych myself up to take some of my mixes and the really yucky ones will be taken followed by a lot of complaining and face pulling!
The feral taste of liquid herbs is the main complaint I hear in my clinic (others include the size of the tablets and the taste of the powders). The great thing is that my clients persevere and continue to take their herbs despite the taste. Why? Because they work! Plain and simple, no other explanation needed.
Liquid herbs are cost-effective, quickly and easily absorbed and really work so for this reason I will often tell my clients to just ‘suck it up’ and take their herbs. Really, it’s a moment of displeasure for a big gain and, if you have ever done a tequila or sambuca shot, I’m sure you can take liquid herbs!
And the good news is, the longer you take them the easier it gets! Often a big part of what we don’t like in liquid herbs is the ‘bitter’ flavour. This is because the western diet is greatly deficient in bitter foods so we are not used to the taste. Once we wake up the bitter taste buds the herbs are quite easy to take.
Other tips for taking your herbs
1. Take them as a shot
Don’t pour your dose of herbs into a 200ml glass of water and force yourself to scull the whole thing! I advise my clients to measure out their herbs and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with water and get it down quick, like a shot.
2. Use warm water
One of my clients told me that this makes them a whole lot easier to swallow.
3. Use pineapple juice
I don’t like mixing my herbs with juice because it just makes the juice taste bad. But some people find them easier to take this way.
4. Wash them down with a glass of water with lemon juice
This will help to get the aftertaste out of your mouth
There are other options like glycerine and special flavour mixes that can be purchased from the herb wholesalers to add to the formula but I don’t believe in using these so I don’t stock them in my clinic. I know, I’m a big meanie!
Certain herbs, like those used to improve digestive function, actually need to be tasted. The bitter taste is what gets your digestion started so there is nothing gained by covering the taste up. Plus I don’t want to waste space in the formula with a flavour improver instead of using a valuable herb. And, I hate it when people try to mask an unpleasant flavour. I can always taste the real flavour underneath and it just makes the whole experience a lot worse. So I believe that the flavour of liquid herbs should be embraced!
Now, I don’t want to totally turn you off using liquid herbs. Some people actually like the taste and I have to admit that I will sometimes take a mix and find myself saying “ohh yummy” afterwards! To me, Liquorice is delicious and cramp bark is pretty good too! I always tell my new clients how bad their herbs are going to taste and really make them sound like the worst thing ever and I am often pleasantly surprised when they come to their next appointment and say “the herbs were fine, I don’t mind taking them at all”.
So I guess the message is, we’re all different and our taste buds are different too but if you persevere with your herbs, you should get used to the taste.
And if not, whinge enough and your naturopath will probably give in and order you tablets instead but remember, this will probably be more expensive as you’ll more than likely need a few different tablets to cover the different actions of the liquid herbs.
Alison: In addition to Laura’s suggestions, I sometimes recommend to keep your bottle of herbs in the fridge. My theory is that it works along the same principle of making a not so great bottle of red wine taste more appealing. I also suggest to hold your nose (if you can’t smell it, you won’t taste it as much). And follow with food to get the taste out of your mouth!
Do you have any secret tips for taking liquid herbs? Please share them with us in the comments box below