Bridging the Gap between Nutrition and Herbs

Have you ever been in a situation where your client brings in their plastic bag of supplements and tips the whole lot out onto your desk?

It’s amazing what a cocktail people end up taking – nutritionals, herbal remedies, Flower Essences, essential oils, creams, lotions, balms.

And then they drop the bombshell, “I’m not sure why I’m taking this, what’s this one for?

I help Practitioners to remove the overwhelm and mystery of herbal remedies, and understand how and when to use market formulas in a safe and effective way, to bridge the gap between nutrition and herbs. If you want to find out more, click here.

When helping your client with diet, remember that herbs can be a safe and effective way of bridging the gap in their nutrition and providing additional benefits such as adding an ACTION.

When we think of using herbs, we need to decide which ACTIONS would be appropriate. An action creates a movement or a response in the body.

For example:

Action: Diuretic
Dandelion, Cleavers, Nettle
Herbs that increase the flow of urine from the kidneys and aid excretion of excess fluid from the body. Herbs to support potassium balance.

Let’s take Sonia, age 33 as an example.

She’s been suffering for 2 years with an itching scalp and blocked ears that have been affecting her hearing.
She has been gluten and dairy-free for many years, typically eats vegan, but will occasionally eat fish depending on when she feels the need. This diet has suited her over the years as eating meat makes her feel sluggish.
Her current supplements are: Nutri Advanced D3/K2 drops, Nutri Advanced B12/ Folate, Cytoplan Foundation Formula, Biocare Vegan Omega 3, Biocare Zinc citrate, Optibac Daily probiotic, Biocare Bio-Magnesium, Apple cider vinegar capsules, Sun Warrior Protein Powder, Ancient Nutrition Collagen.

We still need more information to decide on Actions.

BowelOnce a day or every other day. Stools light in colour and soft to pass.
Urination8-10 times daily. Fluid intake 1.5L water, occasionally cold pressed juices. Urine is clear with very occasional white flecks of mucous.
SkinLess dry than in the past, but still dry
ScalpItching, flaking, occasional scabs. No link to climate, heat or damp
EarsBlocked as a child and syringed. 6yrs ago syringed again. 2 years ago syringed and again last week. Narrow ear canals diagnosed.
Menses27 days and fairly light, lasting 3 days.
JointsSome tightness in lower back. Circulation to joints and muscles poor and can feel cold.
DietHas some intolerances. Diet higher in sugar recently (but still not high, although experiencing some cravings)

It’s not just what our client tells us though- what can you OBSERVE about them.

Sock marksSlight fluid swelling around the ankles
TongueSwollen, yet dry, pale, quivering. Slight white coating.
NailsSlight striations but nothing major

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The Naturopathic viewpoint is that the ears may not be able to drain effectively through the narrow opening, so Cranial Osteopathy should be sought, but in the meantime, something is causing a build up of wax in the ears. Wax is a lubrication, just like mucous is to the bowel. Other signs of mucous can be found in the bowel, sinuses, vagina, bladder, mouth etc

Typically, fungal overgrowth could cause this, so one of our ACTIONS we want to achieve would be antifungal:

Action: Anti-fungal
Calendula, Echinacea, Garlic, Burdock, Thyme, Oregano.
Herbs that destroy fungi/ thrush/ candida internally or externally

But if you kill off fungi, where will it go? The bowel and liver need to be appropriately supported, as these help to cleanse the blood.

The bowel should be moving more frequently and can be gently stimulated with a laxative ACTION:

Action: Gentle Laxative
Aloe vera, Senna pods (weaker than leaves), Yellow dock, Triphala
Gently encourages the bowel to evacuate, without a strong purgative action.

And the ACTION we want for the liver is hepatic:

Action: Action: Hepatic
Dandelion root, Wormwood, Milkthistle, Burdock, Yellow dock.
An herb that assists the liver in its function and promotes the flow of bile.

Looking thorugh Sonia’s case there are also a few more pointers.
The sock marks are her tissues swelling, so the ACTION we want is diuretic.

Action: Diuretic
Dandelion, Cleavers, Nettle
Herbs that increase the flow of urine from the kidneys and aid excretion of excess fluid from the body. Herbs to support potassium balance.

She is also starting to crave sugar so the ACTION we want is anti-diabetic:

Action: Anti-diabetic
Garlic, Nettle, Fennel, Cinnamon.
Counteracts hypoglycaemia.

If we gather the actions together we can see the same herbs repeating:

Gentle LaxativeHepatic
Dandelion root
Dandelion leaf
Aloe vera Senna pods (weaker than leaves)
Yellow dock
Wormwood Milkthistle
Yellow dock
Calendula Echinacea Thyme
  • Dandelion
  • Burdock
  • Nettle
  • Garlic
  • Yellow dock

Herbs have multiple actions but they also come in multiple formats:

Tincture, Glycerite, Tea, Powder, Capsule, Cream, Oil and a Balm are some of them, but there are many more.

What would be the best way to support Sonia?

The bowel needs to be moving more frequently, so I would consider a gentle bowel cleanser such as the Herbalist’s Kitchen Colo Clear – it contains the gentle laxative herbs: triphala, aloe vera, yellow dock, as well as anti-diabetic herb, fennel.

Many people have heard of Dandelion and Burdock. Let’s look at a good quality formulation, rather than the sugary drink. This one by Neal’s Yard is perfect and will help to detoxify the liver and tackle fungi: Dandelion & Burdock tincture.

A closer look at the ingredients reveals more actions within this blend:

The Yellow dock, Cleavers and Nettle also cover the actions of laxative, diuretic and anti-diabetic.

Sonia also suffers from cold extremities and a nice way of addressing this could be by adding herbs which have the ACTION of circulatory: ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, cumin are well-known culinary spices. You could recommend that she drinks ginger tea, eats more garlic and takes the herbal tincture.

Another option could be to use Heath & Heather’s Dandelion and Burdock tea from Indigo Herbs:

The additional ingredients here cover the same actions we want:

Herbal teas can be useful for those avoiding alcohol in tinctures and can be suitable for children or the elderly.

Download our Herbal Tea guide that you can use with your clients. There’s space for your logo and contact details.

I find that clients love experimenting with different teas, and to find they can be used as medicines too allows them to choose what they’re drinking more wisely.

Once all of Sonia’s body systems are eliminating more effectively, you could then consider a stronger antifungal, such as:

This would have a far greater effect on a cleansed and working system and minimise any side effects from potential ‘die-off’.

Understanding how and when to use market formulas in a safe and effective way, allows you to bridge the gap between your nutritional and herbal advice.

One service that may be useful to offer your client is a ‘refine your supplements’ appointment where you can take your time with them and go through their history, their needs, what they feel they’re taking the supplement for, check medications and check them against the supplements. Having an understanding of the APPLICATION of herbs helps to bring your advice into a cohesive protocol.


If you want to find out more about how you can Bridge the Gap between Nutrition and herbs click here.

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