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Tips for Giving Herbs

Often the right herb for someone will be quite palatable, but not always. While tablets present no problem, liquid and granular extracts may be a challenge for some. Here are some tips for making dosing with these preparations easier.

Disguise the Taste

People will often find herbs palatable and easy to take if they are mixed in something first. Try:

  • Juice
  • Water
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies

Most animals will accept herbs in their food. Doses used are usually relatively small, allowing them to be easily disguised in strong tasting canned foods or fish, or even occasionally sprinkled on kibble.

To give stronger tasting herbs to pets, try mixing them in some broth and then either pouring them onto food or giving them by syringe, followed by a "treat chaser". You can also try folding them into something stronger tasting. Ideas include:

  • Sardines
  • Maple syrup
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Processed cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Liverwurst
  • Pate
  • Apple sauce

Granules and pills can be hidden inside of Pill Pockets, an inexpensive commercially available hollow treat for pets. To prevent the pet chewing too long on a medicated treat, have a second treat at the ready. When a dog sees more than one treat lined up for them, they will usually swallow the first one quickly to get at the second.

Make Your Own Pills

Turn a granular extract into pills by putting it into gelatin capsules. Liquid herbs can also be put in gel caps, but use the capsule as soon as it is made or it will dissolve. Simple devices (e.g. Cap M Qwik) costing about $20 are widely available that can fill 30 to 60 medium-sized gelatin capsules at a time. Alternatively, many human pharmacies will put the herbs into gel caps for a modest fee.

De-alcoholize Tinctures

Herbal tinctures often contain a mixture of glycerin and alcohol. Removing the alcohol will improve the taste but weaken the potency of some tinctures. To de-alcoholize:

  1. Pour the tincture onto the bottom of a warm but not hot saucepan
  2. Continue warming until the smell of alcohol at the rim of the pan is much less
  3. Pour the liquid back in the bottle it came in
  4. Store the bottle in the fridge, as the preservative effects of alcohol will now have been lost

The missing alcohol may be replaced with water, so that dosing instructions don't have to be altered. Alternatively, the tincture can be consumed at the originally prescribed dose, since it is now weaker.

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