9 Sep 2014

7 Reasons Herbs May Not Work

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Many times people new to herbs get excited about learning and using herbs. I know I sure did.

They go out and buy all kinds of books. They stock up on a lot of dried herbs, bottles, and preparation utensils. They have their cabinets, refrigerator, and closets full of the things they’re making and trying. They’re giving stuff away to everyone they know and trying to make everyone healthy through herbs all at once! Yes, me again!

It’s all so very fun and exciting. That initial passion for something that is so old and deep. Something with truth and life in it. You can’t help but be consumed by it.

But then sometimes, that passion that burned so bright and strong, starts to wane, little by little. Why is that? Maybe it’s a passing phase, maybe something else new and exciting came along. The reasons are different for everyone. For me, it was because the herbs I was using didn’t always work.

Gasp! What? Herbs… not work!?

Yes. There were times I would have something going on, I’d study up on what herbs could be used for that issue, I’d make what I needed and use it, only to be disappointed that the herbs didn’t really help… like, at all.

Sure sometimes I got things right, but a lot of times I didn’t. I remember getting frustrated… with myself, with the herbs, with others who could get it right. I wondered why it didn’t work for me. Was everyone else lying about the wonderful ability herbs had, or did they just know something I didn’t know?

Thankfully I didn’t give up on them. I knew deep inside of me that herbs were given to us as a gift. For nutrition. For healing. I figured I had some things to learn from other herbalists if I wanted to use herbs correctly and have them work for me. And you know what… that’s exactly what it was.

7 Reasons Herbs May Not Work by the Herbal Academy of New England

I’d jumped right in and started using herbs to treat symptoms and problems, just like I was trained to as a nurse, instead of learning what herbalism really was and how it worked. I jumped into the middle of using herbs instead of starting at the beginning and building my skills over time. I also only viewed herbs from a medicinal or therapeutic viewpoint and completely ignored the fact that many herbs should be used for their nutritional and balancing properties on a daily basis.

Once I realized that I’d started off in the wrong place, I began to buy books from well-known herbalists, I read their blogs, their articles, I watched videos of them teaching and doing plant walks, I took herbal courses from different herbalists, and eventually came to the Herbal Acadamy to try out their Intermediate Herbal Course.

So if you are new to herbs or you know those that are, you’re probably familiar with the frustration that comes when the herbs you love don’t work, just like I was. So today, I’m going to share 7 reasons herbs may not work.

When I eventually learned about the reasons why herbs may not work, it opened my eyes even more to the depth of herbs and made me appreciate the study that goes into this ancient art. I can now say that I have a better idea of how herbs work and how they’re meant to be used, and yes, most times they work for me. If not, I still don’t give up. I just study more to see where I got off track again.

Seven Reasons Herbs May Not Work And Why - Herbal Academy of New England

7 Reasons Herbs May Not Work

Rosalee de la Foret wrote an eye-opening article a couple years ago called 9 Reasons Herbs Might Not Work. Below is a summary of my favorite points she made in her article, but you can go on and read all of them here.

If you’ve done your research on herbs and you’re not getting the results you want, consider each of the following things and how they can affect the chances of the herbs giving you the results you’re looking for.

1. Improper Dosing – Using Too Much or Too Little

When you don’t get the result you’re looking for, do you go back and take a look at your herbs? Are they dosed based on whether they’re mild or strong? If not, it may do you some good to adjust the dosage a bit and see if you get better results.

2. Poor Quality Herbs

The quality of herbs you’re using will definitely make a big difference when it comes to whether they work or not. If herbs are old, not dried properly, harvested at the wrong time, prepared incorrectly, etc. they won’t be as effective!

3. Matching Herbs To The Condition Instead Of The Person

Like I said before, herbalism is deep, and it takes study and practice.

4. Using The Wrong Part Of The Plant & The Wrong Type Of Preparation

Did you know that certain parts of an herb are used for certain things? It’s important to know what part of the herb you need when it comes to using herbs if you wanna get the results you’re looking for.

5. Making Preparations Incorrectly

Herbalists of old have tweaked preparations so many times and passed on the methods that yielded the best results. That’s why these methods work!

6. Poor Formulation or Using No Formula At All

The thing about formulas is that they are synergistic. The herbs chosen in the formula work together harmoniously by helping to buffer the side effects of some of the herbs and to enhance the actions of others.

7. Not Giving It Enough Time

Herbs are based on the person and the condition. There will be times when herbs will work quickly, but most times it will take time.

To read the full article, visit Rosalee’s post, 9 Reasons Why Herbs May Not Work.

Reasons Why Herbs Don't Always Work

If you want to learn more about using herbs, be sure to check out the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course offered by the Herbal Academy. You’ll learn all about what I’ve written here today as well as much, much more!


de la Foret, Rosalee. (2012). 9 Reasons Why Herbs May Not Work. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2012/12/9-reasons-why-herbs-might-not-work.html

Tierra, M. (1998). The way of herbs (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Pocket Books.