When Herbs Don’t Work

Herb PharmacyEvery now and then I hear from someone with a chronic skin condition who is frustrated with holistic medicine. They often tell me – “I’ve tried herbs, but they don’t work for me.” Yet they still want to see what help I may be able to offer.

There’s no “quick answer” for this situation, but it is certainly an issue worth exploring.

I will almost alway first ask about what form the herbs came in – capsules? … powders? … tiny little black teapills from Chinatown? My experience in herbal dermatology shows that treating the skin requires strong dosages of herbs. Pills, capsules, and powders just don’t cut it a lot of the time. Herbal teas with good, strong dosages of herbs are necessary for the vast majority of patients with moderate to severe skin problems. In addition – quality matters! I’ve been amazed at the difference in results people have when switching from low quality to high quality herbs. Finding the cheapest herbs out there is often nothing more than a waste of time and money in the long run.

Next I want to know who prescribed the herbs they took. Did they read about something on the internet and self-prescribe? Was it someone who worked behind the counter at a health food store? And if they went to a professional practitioner, was it someone with specialized training in dermatology? Many holistic practitioners have never taken a single class in dermatology. And the truth is, treating skin disorders is quite challenging – in Western medicine and holistic medicine alike. Make sure your practitioner is educated in treating skin disorders – and the more education and experience they have, the better.

And finally, I always want to be straight with people. It can absolutely be worth it to see more than one professional and try more than one herbal approach to healing. Don’t give up if you haven’t yet gotten the results you’re looking for! But the truth is, herbs don’t work in 1% of cases. Why this is or who’s less likely to get good results,  I don’t know. But I do know that this is a reality in the world of healing. If you talk to a practitioner who claims to have a 1% success rate in treating a complicated condition (like psoriasis or eczema) – run, don’t walk from their practice! Look for a practitioner who is realistic, educated and experienced, and herbs may just provide the healing you’re looking for.

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