Tips for Taking Tonics, Superfoods, Adaptogens and Medicinal Herbs - Duke's Materia Tonica

October 29, 2020 10:29 3 Comments

Tips for Taking Herbs, Superfoods, Tonics and Adaptogens

Tips for Taking Tonics, Superfoods, Adaptogens, and Medicinal Herbs


A common question:

Q: What is the best time to take superfood supplements, including herbs like tonics and adaptogens?
A: Around mealtime, generally speaking.

To repeat: The best time to take supplements is with food and complete meals to promote energy, stress-resistance and build health and support detoxification, recovery and regeneration.

That is the easy go-to answer that should work anytime and anywhere.

But, with nutrition and performance, other important factors need considering.

First some background information about what we are talking about.

  • A superfood is nutrient dense and without calories. For example, vitamins and minerals are the very simple version of superfoods. In other words, they contain concentrated nutrients, but lack the calories that supply energy and the building blocks for bodily tissues, glands and organs.
  • A tonic is a superfood used for specific dietary and lifestyle programming purposes that needs to be taken with certain lifestyles or meal-orientations for best benefit.
  • An adaptogen modifies metabolism for stress-tolerance and stress-resistance with nutrition and unique constituents, but it does not have enough calories to resist and tolerate stress.
  • Medicinal herbs and botanicals, including medicinal mushrooms can be taken almost anytime, but are often enhanced by dietary and lifestyle choices.

That is the deeply important stuff, so go ahead and read it again.

Q: What is the common thread with all of four above bullet points?
A: Food, especially complete meals.

Now, let us dig deeper.

So, what is the big deal with food?

Food is a big deal when it comes to making supplements work. Food supplies the raw materials for your body to make the things it needs. And supplements support organs, glands and tissues to use food and help the body make the things it needs.

The benefits of eating food and taking supplements work together, they meet-in-the-middle. See:

Food --> [Benefits] <-- Tonics

Supplements make food work better.

Q: How do supplements make food work better?
A: By benefits. By promoting organs, glands and metabolic processes to do what they do appropriately and more efficiently.

Supplements work by health and performance benefits, so eat for health and performance benefits.

We can learn how supplements work by looking at their major benefits.

Supplement Timing and Food Programming

Scroll down to find your major benefit. For your information, Joint Health is at the bottom of the page.

Adaptogen, Energy, Digestive, Intimacy, Strength

Tonic Tinctures Adaptogen Icon Tonic Tinctures Energy Icon Tonic Tinctures Digestive Icon Tonic Tinctures Intimacy Icon Tonic Tinctures Strength Icon

These benefits require complete meals for best results.

  • Skipping meals and eating incomplete meals will lead to ineffective results of all the above benefits.
'Macros' are the main foods to eat: Protein, fat, and carbohydrate together make a complete meal.
  • Fats and carbohydrates utilize oxygen to produce energy for activity.
  • Protein is necessary for energy utilization, blood circulation, posture and strength. Choose, eggs, chicken, fish, cheese, beef, lamb, turkey, and shrimp.

Did you know that testosterone and estrogen are over 95% cholesterol by weight? Eat eggs for cholesterol and healthy intimacy. Keep the yolks soft, so as not to denature the cholesterol and make it available for hormone production.

Time-to-take: During complete meals or within 30 minutes of eating, before or after, for best results.
Performance Timing: Eat a complete meal and take anytime in the following 1-4 hours for performance and stress-resistance. Avoid performing on an empty stomach.

Immune, Liver Health, Antitoxin/Detox, Antioxidant

Tonic Tinctures Immunity Icon Tonic Tinctures Liver Health Icon Tonic Tinctures Antitoxin Icon Tonic Tinctures Antioxidant Icon

These benefits require consistent protein consumption and antioxidants a priority.

  • Skipping meals and eating incomplete meals will diminish effects of all the above benefits, since the immune system requires protein and fat burning requires antioxidants.
Main foods to focus on in diet:
  • Protein, minimum three times a day, to replenish immune cells - eggs, chicken, fish, cheese, beef, lamb, and turkey.
  • Antioxidants, from plant foods, regulate energy oxidation and support detoxification of by-products of fatigue.

Time-to-take: Anytime, including on an empty stomach to promote detoxification once to twice a day.

Things to Avoid: It is important not to eat overcooked and burnt meat and avoid overheated and fried fats as they are highly carcinogenic and put a burden on immune, liver health, and antioxidant capacity. Even though it's important to eat protein and meats, watch for overcooked meat and try to stick to fats like butter, lard and other saturated fats which don't oxidize as easily as oils.

Adrenal, Endocrine Hormones, Cognition

Tonic Tinctures Adrenal Icon Tonic Tinctures Endocrine Icon Tonic Tinctures Cognition Icon Tonic Tinctures Brain Health Icon

Did you know that your brain is over 75% cholesterol by weight?

Interesting fact: 'Adrenal fatigue' and sex hormone deficiency are simply a saturated fat and cholesterol deficiency. So taking an adrenal or endocrine hormone tonic without saturated fat and cholesterol will negate the effects.

  • Choose saturated fats such as avocado, butter, cream, coconut milk (not coconut oil) and lard or beef dripping.
  • Choose cholesterol rich foods such as eggs, cheese, cream, shrimp, and lard.

Hormones need a constant supply of raw materials. 

  • Skipping meals and eating incomplete meals will lessen the effects of all the above benefits since the adrenals, hormones and brain/nerve tissue require saturated fat and cholesterol to function.
Main foods to focus on in one's diet:
  • Kelp - ensure that seaweeds are incorporated and eaten regularly to supply iodine and essential trace minerals to help with glandular, nerve and circulation functions.
  • Avocado superhero - eat 1-3 a day. Fresh fats feed hormones!
  • Choose animal foods to replenish and support hormone production - eggs, beef, and quality-made cheeses.
  • Top trick! Make a protein shake and add 4-8 ounces of cream or half and half. Add 1-3 droppers of your hormone tonic such as saw palmetto, shatavari, ginseng or deer antler velvet. Bingo!

Time-to-take: Mealtimes. The effects build the more often hormone tonics are taken and the more often one eats fats.

Lungs/Breathing, Skin Cells, Heart Health, Cardiovascular

Tonic Tinctures Breathing Icon Tonic Tinctures Skin Cells Icon Tonic Tinctures Heart Health Icon Tonic Tinctures Cardio Icon

These benefits require omega-3 fatty acids in the diet to work.

  • Lack of essential fatty acids (EFA's) will negate effects of all the above benefits since they are required to make lubricating hormones called 'prostglandins' that support tissue lubrication and vascular circulation.
  • The heart uses EFA's for energy.
Main foods to focus on in the diet:
  • Choose EFA sources such as flax, chia, eggs, avocados, fish, fish oil and consume 2-3 times a day at any time.
  • Antioxidants reduce the effects of oxidation and will help soothe tissues. Especially berries high in polyphenols, such as blueberries, blackberries, etc. Tomatoes are good too, as well as, herbal and green teas.

Time-to-take: Anytime, before meals preferable, but not essential.

De-Stress, Clarity, Spiritual, Rejuvenate

Tonic Tinctures De-Stress Icon Tonic Tinctures Rejuvenate Icon Tonic Tinctures Clarity Icon Tonic Tinctures Spiritual Icon

These benefits require complete meals to support stress-tolerance and stress-resistance.

Add b-vitamins, trace minerals, and calcium and magnesium supplements to enhance the benefits.

  • Skipping meals and eating incomplete meals is stressful.
  • It is hard to think when hungry.
  • Stay grounded with food.
  • Food heals.

Main foods to focus on in diet:

  • Complete easy-to-digest meals like chicken or fish, rice and veggies, hearty snacks, like nuts or a protein bar. Eat 3-6 times a day, to prevent getting tired and stressed out.
  • Add antioxidants to support circulation and reduce the effects of oxidation.
  • Take with juice or fruit as a snack, but not as a meal replacement, during resting and rejuvenating time.

Time-to-take: Anytime, but in particular, after a meal and rest.
De-Stress Timing: Eat a complete meal and take anytime in the following 1-4 hours to support a stress-releasing activity, such as yoga or meditation, or before rest and bed.

Joint Health

Tonic Tinctures Joint Health Icon

This benefit requires consistent consumption of proteins, fats and antioxidants.

  • Protein builds joint tissue.
  • Fat lubricates joint tissue.
  • Antioxidants support joint integrity and healing.

Main foods to focus on in diet:

  • Protein, minimum 3-6 times a day, to supply consistent raw materials - eggs, chicken, fish, beef, lamb, turkey, cheesed, shrimp and protein shakes.
  • Protein shake power! - Whey protein is good, but gelatin and collagen powders are better. Take EFA's with the shake.
  • EFA's like flax oil and fish oil lubricate. Daily dose: 6-12 grams flax which may be substituted with up to 3 grams of fish oil.
  • Antioxidants regulate immune function in the joints to support healing and repair.

Time-to-take: Anytime, best with protein meals and protein shakes. Take with EFA's for better benefits.