top of page

How to Get Your Supplements; Teas vs. Herbal Extracts vs. Pills for Natural Health Benefits; What Should You Take & How Should You Take Herbal Remedies?

"Nothing is better for you than natural, whole foods."

This is actually something I used to say - but I've known better for a few years now.

So I thought I would tell you about it!

There are many foods we are unable to access in certain forms, either due to cost, production, preservation or simply attempting to add it to our diet in its natural form (raw or cooked) is ridiculous.

There are also certain remedies that need to be ingested so frequently & in such high quantities, in order to get the results you're looking for, that it is uncomfortable or too much work. The preparation is possibly time consuming or the side effects of the food's other elements could offer extra results you don't want.

For example, green tea is a great antioxidant & 1-3 cups a day over the course of 10-20 years can have great health benefits, increasing your life span (and health span) by a number of years. But one of the active elements in green tea - EGCG - can be found in pill supplement form. This extract, in extremely high doses (900-1,200 mg/day,) has been shown to create fat cell death, lowering your body fat percentage in a number of months. In order to get that much EGCG out of drinking green tea would have you crawling on the ceiling from the tea's caffeine content, not present in the extract. Not to mention having to empty your bladder every 10 minutes.

But how do you decide what to take & how to take it?

There are now lots of ways to get extremely helpful health changes. From exotic mushrooms powders, tea mixes of multiple leaves together for one purpose, or pills with vitamins & minerals that are compounded the same way. But from the beautiful Northwest Coast, where I come from, I know quite a few people with cabinets that look like a medieval pharmacy. They are proud of their giant collection of remedies for everything & everything - even for symptoms they don't have or are anxious to get in the future.

I also know many people who have gone through 100s of different natural remedies with ZERO results & are frustrated & hate that lack of changes they have been able to achieve - feeling like they "have tried everything!"

I personally always like to take the most direct, effective route to the results I want - which often requires a bit more research & critical thinking that some people are willing to do for themselves.

So, for your benefit, I have put together my process of how to figure out, what to take, how to take it, how much to take & how to know if it's working for me.

I've broken the choice down into 3 categories:

  1. timeline - how long do you want to be consuming this item?

  2. dosage - how much of this do you need to take for it to have the effect that you want?

  3. enjoyment/habit - what way will you enjoy taking this item or be able to consistently have it in your diet for the time span you want it?

Before we get into that, lets look at the main ways to ingest extra herbal remedies or supplements into our health regime.

Teas: these are most commonly a bag of herbs/flowers left to steep in boiled water (infusion.) But there is another way to do this where you put, usually roots or plant matter, into water & bring to a simmer for 10-20 mins then strain off the water (decoctions.)

Pills/Capsules: these are made with dried powder extracts, the item is soaked in water, alcohol or chemicals then freeze dried. It's crushed then put in capsules or pressed into pills.

Tinctures & liquid extracts: this is soaking the item in vinegar, alcohol or glycerin. They are usually quite concentrated.

**I'm going to give a special mention to loose powders. We can do this with spices such as cinnamon, turmeric or ashwagandha - but also we do this with our protein powder, collagen & 'greens' or 'antioxidant berry mixes'.

What to consider when planning to put a new supplement health item into your nutrition plan:

Timeline: This is something tons of my clients don't even consider. They 'hear' that something could be good for them. Some new study comes out or a few articles go viral on the health benefits of something like lavender, ginko biloba, or turmeric & all of a sudden 100 health products appear with these ingredients - meanwhile Chinese culture & everyone who is wiccan is like, "uh, duh - that news is so 3,000 years ago..."

So then they start figuring out ways to get it into their daily life. But what 'exactly' for? Just to be 'healthy'? Stop that.

If you're introducing a new herbal supplement to your nutrition plan - know exactly WHY you are taking it - therefore you know HOW LONG you plan to take it for. It is for a acute concern or a chronic concern?

Acute: this is short term use to correct an issue or symptom. Whether its anxiety, sleep issues, body fat percentage, cardiovascular or heart issues - you use it until your symptoms have cleared up. You might use valerian root to help you sleep better while going through stressful circumstances for a few weeks. You might use high doses of garlic & green tea extract for 6-8 weeks for weight loss. You might use serrapeptase to break up mucus & necrotic tissue for 4-6 months. But you don't keep taking these for you're whole life.

Chronic: this is long term or maintenance use. These are used for continuous improvement or maintaining positive health for your entire lifespan that would otherwise deteriorate over time, (wrongfully) interpreted as natural signs of aging. Supplementing with Omega 3 daily, since it can be difficult to eat enough fish on a weekly basis for some geographical locations. Drinking a cup of green tea every day as a kind addition to your antioxidant levels. Adding fenugreek & garlic to most of your evening cooking for managing cholesterol. What about a powdered vegan protein & iron supplement if you can't seem get enough of those in how you naturally prefer to eat? Or ginko biloba for mood & memory if you're typically absent minded or melancholy?

Timeline matters because if you're going to take it for a short time, what form will you be able to easily integrate for the time period? Do you just need one bottle of off the shelf capsules? Why get natural ginger that you need to peel every time, when you can buy powdered form & add it to your smoothie for 6 weeks. If you're going to use something long term - why use pills that you intend to take every day for the rest of your life - when you can enjoy it in tea form? Or use a tincture extract that a drop can be added to your coffee in the morning?

Next is...

Dosage: Whether its long or short term - have you done the research on how much you need to take to get the effects you want? There are some supplementing that will have absolutely no effect at the doses deemed 'safe' from general studies. When someone is looking to tip over the edge from early cancer readings or immune system failure & wants to take a herbal route first - just adding 1,000 mg of Vit C daily isn't going to do it. The outlier studies show effects taking place at upwards of 8,000 - 12,000 mg a day for a number of weeks.

If multiple aspects of your health are suffering, 'inflammation' being cited as a very common symptom of overall problems - you might be looking at the addition of 6-7 different supplements with antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties with high dosages required to see any effects. Dosages that are beyond what any doctor or homeopath is comfortable or educated enough to recommend. You're not going to add 7 tablespoons of garlic, turmeric & 100 pomegranate seeds to one meal a day. Or consume 4 cans of smoked oysters for your zinc.

If you're looking to use something like gutu kola for repairing lose skin - the daily dosage on the bottle is useless. You'll be pissed 6 months later with zero results & just think the top 3 google articles you read about it are giant liars.

But if you're only trying to make a subtle addition to your general health for the next 10-20 years - using natural forms of foods can be a more enjoyable tasks then choking back pills. Adding 3 different teas that you circulate through in a week to keep you a little calmer (lower heart rate from anxiety & cortisol) moving forward in your life could just feel lovely. Maybe you want to add in Vit D at 1,000 U/I for the rest of your cloudy costal life & just one of those kids gummies is a special treat in your day? Or you buy them in 400 U/I doses so you can take one in the morning & one in the evening? 'Cause you're sassy like that.


Enjoyment & Habit: This is probably the most important thing to consider. If you are adding supplements to your nutrition - are you going to dread the new habit & need to create a labyrinth of reminders? Or are you going to be able to look at it like you're adding in a treat that becomes a new, awesome part of your day? Especially considering how much you need to take to get the results you want (dosage) & for the length of time you intend on taking the new thing (timeline.)

Adding the ginger & turmeric to your protein smoothie is awesome, while cinnamon in your coffee is the treat with an extract dropper of Vit D & then adding salmon in 3 times a week works for you because choking back even just one of those giant gel pills had you gagging & you love chamomile tea to help you sleep & the valerian root pills were just one too many on top of the cholesterol medication your doctor pressured you into taking.

Or maybe when you add in a new set of capsules because you NEED a high does - one of your other pills needs to change format for you to manage the new addition.

Everyone is unique in what they will commit to & what they will tolerate. It's important to take the time to try out & assess the new health commitments you're taking on. Carefully consider the 3 categories above to make sure that adding something in for your health benefit is going to result in the changes you want to see in your body & mind. You can save yourself a LOT of money & psychological hassle by simply knowing your reasons & objectives & making a game plan. Especially if you're just adding things in 'because you heard it's good for you.' This is a terrible reason to put anything in or on your body.

Health & wellness marketing is out of control theses days. Taking an active role in your own health literacy & doing a little bit of investigative work on the super computer you have in your pocket could save you from $100s of disappointment & wasted time not understanding why you don't see the change you want.


If you loved this blog, sign up for my Pretty Aggressive Weekly Newsletter!

to sign up & receive blogs on physical health, mental health, nutrition, great podcasts, book reviews, building resiliency, bio-hacking products & more!


If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family cycle & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.

Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

8 views1 comment

1 comentário

Sabrina LL
Sabrina LL
20 de abr.

Great post! Being a nurse, having a TCM guide and your help has helped me see and feel the difference of what my body needs. Although I know the differences between acute & chronic I have learned the different stages of an acute process can also require different substances the body needs.

bottom of page