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What is Herbal Synergy?

Synergy means the cooperation of two parts to cause an outcome greater than the sum of their separate effects. In botanical medicine, this means combining 2 or more herbs to get a stronger tincture.

Synergy is hard to reconcile with evidence-based medicine. Some practitioners use herbs at doses lower than recommended based on therapeutic range. They assume overlapping actions will make up for the missing dose of the individual herbs.

Research hasn’t supported that idea, but there’s almost certainly some truth to it. When herbs that overlap in action but differ in their mechanisms of action are combined, the outcome likely exceeds that of the individual herbs.

However, you can do one better. Use the same herbs within their therapeutic range and your results will improve even further.

Synergy can also be applied to optimize the actions within a herbal formula. In many cases, a smaller selection of specific actions based on an accurate assessment is likely to yield the best results. For example, if you require a specific action in your formula (such as alterative), then you could select a formula where each herb has a least that action in its primary, secondary, or tertiary profile.

As always, we recommend you consult with your healthcare practitioner.

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Acute Colds and Flus: URTI

Upper respiratory tract infections are extremely common. Getting sick a couple of times per year is not unusual and as long as you’re clearing things up and feeling better, that’s the sign of a healthy immune system.

However, if you’re getting over 6 colds or flus a year, it might mean that you are more susceptible. Perhaps there are obvious causes for weakened immunity, such as medications, protein deficiencies, or sleep deprivation.

Using antimicrobial herbs to decrease the number and activity of the pathogen is one way to support the body’s immune response. But how do we know which microbes are involved? Is the infection viral or bacterial? Sometimes we have clues, but luckily, many herbs are broadly active against both bacteria and viruses.

Immune stimulating herbs are also a good bet in these situations, since they can help improve the strength of the immune system directly.

An example formula might include:

Barberry, Elderflower, Echinacea, Sage, Clove, and Licorice Root. Optimally taken as a tincture, 1 tablespoon, 3 times per day. For 5 to 7 days.

As always, check with your healthcare provider to make sure whatever is decided is right for you.