Herbs have been used for centuries to promote health, vitality, and longevity. In today's fast-paced world of quick fixes and instant gratification, it can be easy to forget that many natural remedies work best when taken consistently over an extended period. This is especially true for herbs and herbal formulas aimed at treating the root cause of health issues, rather than just suppressing symptoms.
When it comes to herbs, patience is a virtue. Taking the time to allow herbs to accumulate in your body and do their work can lead to profound, long-lasting results. Here's a look at why herbs work better over time and how long you may need to take them to experience the full benefits.
Addressing The Root Cause Takes Time
Pharmaceutical drugs are often designed to provide immediate relief of symptoms. For example, an antacid can quickly ease heartburn, antihistamines can rapidly reduce allergy symptoms, and painkillers can bring fast relief from headaches or muscle aches. However, this symptomatic treatment does not address the underlying cause of the problem.
Herbs take a different approach. Rather than just covering up symptoms, they aim to resolve the root issue that is creating the symptoms in the first place. This means it can take some time to see results, but the payoff is that your body is able to regain balance and you may no longer need the herbs once the underlying problem is resolved.
For example, an herbal formula for heartburn may contain demulcent herbs like marshmallow root and slippery elm to coat and soothe the esophageal tissue. It may also include anti-inflammatory herbs to heal damage to the tissue and herbs that support healthy digestion. With consistent use over time, this formula can eliminate heartburn by addressing the various factors contributing to it, not just temporarily neutralizing stomach acid.
Herbs Need To Accumulate In The Body
Another reason herbs work better with sustained use is that it takes time for their active compounds to build up in your body. Consider adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, maca, and Siberian ginseng. These herbs help regulate the body's stress response. But it can take weeks or months of daily supplementation for adaptogens to optimally balance your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and counteract the effects of chronic stress.
For example, in one study participants took 300mg per day of ashwagandha root extract for 60 days. By the end of the study, the ashwagandha group experienced significantly greater reductions in perceived stress and morning cortisol levels compared to placebo. However, these improvements in stress resilience took time to achieve their full effect through sustained intake.
Herbs That Support Brain Health Also Require Persistence
Cognition and overall brain health are additional areas where herbs work best with long-term use. In fact, it can take months to experience the full brain-boosting benefits of nootropic herbs like lion’s mane mushroom.
Similarly, research on lion’s mane mushroom has shown memory and cognitive improvements are greater after three or four months compared to just one month of use. So when it comes to nutritional support for cognitive function, patience is critical.
How Long Should You Give Herbs?
There are no hard set rules on precisely how long it takes different herbs to work optimally. It really comes down to which herbs you’re taking, what health condition you’re trying to improve, and your individual biochemistry. However, there are some general timeframes that can help set realistic expectations.
For symptomatic relief, you may notice initial improvements within 2-4 weeks of starting an herbal supplement. But allowing 6-12 weeks is more reasonable for herbal formulas addressing underlying issues. For herbs taken mainly for prevention like adaptogens and nootropics, consistency over 3-6 months is ideal to let levels fully build up.
It’s important not to expect overnight results with most natural remedies. Be patient and committed to your herbal protocol, barring any adverse side effects. Over weeks and months, the improvements to your health can be dramatic and long-lasting.
Tips For Sticking With An Herbal Regimen
Now that you know why herbs work better over time, here are some tips to help you stick with an herbal regimen long enough to get results:
- Take herbs at the same time each day to establish a routine, like with breakfast or before bed.
- Set reminders on your phone/calendar to take your herbs daily.
- Find high-quality, standardized herbal extracts so optimal dosing is easy.
- Combine herbs into formulas that target your health goals for convenience.
- Track benefits you notice from herbs so you stay motivated to continue.
- Be consistent – remember that sporadic use won’t produce the same effects.
- Have patience and focus on long-term wellness, not quick fixes.
The bottom line is that good things come to those who wait when it comes to herbs. Allowing time for their magic to unfold can profoundly transform your health in ways that are more complete and lasting. Consistency and dedication are key. By making herbs part of your daily routine, you open the door to herbal healing at its finest.