How to Use Herbs Together That Have the Same Therapeutic Action
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Sammie
Posted on: November 25, 2006

I am 26 and have smoked cigarettes since I was 17. I have always been fatigued since I was a teenager. I am unsure whether my tiredness began before or after I started smoking though. I also have sinus headaches during the fall, winter, and spring (perhaps from dust in the house). This began three or four years ago.

I am trying to quit smoking and was wondering if there are any herbs out there to help me accomplish this?

Also, I read on this site that two or more herbs should not be taken at the same time if they have the same properties. Since I am interested in detoxifying my body, I have been researching alot, but unable to find certain answers. I’ll ask those now:

Is it okay, to say, use the diuretic burdock one day and then on the next day use the diuretic dandelion? And keep rotating like that? I’d rather use individual herbs instead of buying a detoxifying kit.

I also love the sound of cats claw, and wonder if people take it for preventative reasons? I also have been unable to find out if cat’s claw is a diuretic or what? Since I have harmed my body greatly through smoking, I think anti-oxidants sound wonderful. This is why I ask.

I am also very interested in black elderberry syrup. I have read that some people take this to *prevent* getting colds and the flu, and also some use it at the onset to help them recover. Would you think taking it as a preventative during the flu season is wise? Lastly, is elderberry a diuretic, and if so, could I rotate it with one of the above mentioned herbs?

One more thing, do you know of any websites that give a complete, or nearly complete list of diuretics?

I know this is a lot to ask, but there are no herbalists anywhere close to where I live and have had trouble finding the answers to this on the internet. Therefore, I ask you in hope that I will find some answers.

Regarding the use of herbs with the same actions: herbs with the same actions are often used in herbal formulas. They usually work in different ways, and their effects are complementary. It is important to be aware that they have the same action, adjust the dosage accordingly, and monitor their effects.

Regarding diuretics: herbs like bearberry (uva ursi), boldo, buchu, dandelion, boneset, burdock, celery, corn silk, couchgrass, fennel, gravel root, juniper berries, marshmallow, parsley, stone root, wild carrot and yarrow, are some of the more well known of the diuretics with a marked diuretic effect. Several hundred herbs have diuretic action, some to a much lesser extent than others. If you know that you are taking a strong diuretic herb, then you should exercise caution when introducing a second diuretic herb. Herbalists use formulas that often include 5 or 7 herbs, and the dose of each herb in the formula would be less than the maximum therapeutic dose. You can similarly decrease the dosage of individual herbs when you are taking more than one. So, if you want to take dandelion and burdock, take half of the recommended dose of each daily. If you want to add elderberry, take one third of the daily dosage of each of the three herbs daily. You can take them on alternate days, as you suggest, but that could become confusing. I don’t know of an existing list of all diuretics.

We usually advise against using herbs that have the same action as a prescription drug. There is a potential of increasing the drug action beyond the effect required for therapeutic action. This can be harmful to health, and confusing for a doctor who is trying to monitor the effect of the drug.

There are several answers to questions on detoxification and quitting smoking that you can reference on our website at Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then enter the word "detox" for one Q&A search, "cleans" for a second search and "smoking" for a third search.

Cat’s claw does have a diuretic action. I don’t know how strong that diuretic action is. It is known principally for its immune stimulant and anti-inflammatory actions. There is some information on cat’s claw on our web site. Enter "cat’s claw" for the Q&A search. I don’t recommend taking it unnecessarily or for long periods of time because of potential side effects. Reported side effects include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, infertility and blood thinning.

For cleansing and detoxification, I suggest that you drink lots of pure water, include at least 10 portions of antioxidant-rich fresh fruit and vegetables daily.

Elderberry is useful in preventing colds and ‘flus. It is used in small doses as a preventative, and in therapeutic doses (the dose on the product label) once a cold or ‘flu has started.

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