How long does it take?

‘Will I have to keep on taking the herbs forever?’ Most people ask this at some point, and of course there isn’t an easy answer. There are some signposts, though. If you’re taking herbs for an acute condition like a cold or a stomach upset, you shouldn’t need to keep it up for too long, though the dosage may be high. Chronic problems, on the other hand, tend to take longer to resolve, and the slow and steady constant drip-drip of herbs into the system is what gradually changes things for the better.

When a person asks for herbs to replace a long-term drug regime, or for herbs instead of drugs, they may well have to commit to a prolonged course of treatment. If, for example, you’ve been on medication for high blood pressure, or steroids for some inflammatory condition, the ideal procedure is to get the herbs in place, at least for a few weeks, before starting very cautiously to reduce the drugs. It’s always best to let your doctor know you’re doing this. Some drugs, like thyroxin or type 1 diabetes treatments, are better not meddled with unless your doctor is definitely happy to monitor your progress. I hear stories about doctors who take their patients off all their drugs at once, but I wouldn’t recommend it!

As things improve – and they usually do, though obviously not everything is treatable – people often start forgetting to take their medicine. This is a normal and healthy response to feeling better. The end of treatment makes itself known, either because you really don’t need the herbs so much any more, or because you can’t afford it any more. Sadly, that is sometimes a factor, and it has to be honoured just like any other consideration. In other words, how long you keep taking the herbs is, in the end, in your own hands.

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