Capsules or Powders?
At Eagle Herbs, we offer Chinese herbal formulas in both capsules and extract powders (also called “granules”). The herbal material inside of the capsules is identical to the extract powder. We actually start out with the powder, then optionally put it into capsules.
You don’t need to eat/drink the actual granules. The active ingredients are sprayed on to the granules. If you put the powder in water and stir occasionally for 10 minutes, the liquid that comes up is the actual “good stuff”. Just drink the liquid and discard the “mud” at the bottom.
However, if you are traveling or just need to take them to work, capsules will do the same work.
I believe that the powders work more quickly. They’re also cheaper for you because there is no labor cost associated with putting the powder into capsules. (Truthfully I can’t figure out if we make more money with the capsules because of the intracacies of the capsule making and the cleaning time etc)
However, if you ARE sensitive to funky tastes, if you think that you will not take the herbs if you have to taste them, I would encourage the use of the capsules. For example, bitter herbs like Huang Qin, Long Dan Can and Huang Lian can get real “real” real soon after drinking (“compared to Huang Lian, my life is more bitter” is an old Chinese saying).
Or perhaps you plan on traveling, working with the powders can be messy. When they get on the floor and interact with humidity in the air, they can get stuck in carpeting. They can be messy whereas capsules can fall on the floor, but be easily seen and cleaned up.
There is another reason that I prefer the use of powders, and that is dosage. It has been said by many of the more experienced practitioners of Chinese medicine that the most common reason for an herbal formula not doing what it needs to do is under-dosage. We’re simply not giving people enough of a dose to get the job done.
The reason that I bring this up in the issue of herbs vs. capsules is that I can tell a patient to take 2 little spoons of a powder 3 times daily. It goes down okay, it is doable. However, that much powder translates to about 12 capsules, three times a day.
This means that one will need to take 36 capsules per day, and this number is simply too high for most people to accept, not that I blame them, I don’t like the feeling of capsules sitting in my stomach either. But 2 little spoons of an herb extract powder is not a problem.
Again: You don’t need to eat/drink the actual granules. Just put them in water and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. The liquid that comes up is the actual “good stuff”. Just drink the liquid and discard the “mud” at the bottom.
So these are the differences between capsules and extract powders. If you’re not sure whether or not you can handle the taste of a given formula, order it in capsule form. When you get your herbs, just twist open the capsule and put the powder into some hot water or directly on to your tongue.
Try it a few times actually. Many of these formulas have a tendency to grow on you. They’re acquired tastes, but once you’re enjoying the taste, you’re on your way.
Be well, be VERY well.
written by Al Stone and Doug Eisenstark