4 capsules, 3x a day. Ugh. No, thanks. I know, right? Taking capsules is such a pain. Which ones. When. How many. I forgot them at home. Oops, I just ran out. Wait, but I just ate – was I supposed to take them on empty stomach or with a meal? Dammit. I’ll do better tomorrow. We’ve all been there.
The first thing to remember is that medicine only does any good if we get it into our systems. It does us no good just sitting in bottles staring back at us every time we open our medicine cabinets. You know what I’m talking about.
Taking pills and capsules is hard! Well, not really, more just a PITA.
Let’s talk about how we get medicine into our body – the delivery mechanism. Ultimately, we want medicine to get into the bloodstream where it can be processed, moved around and take action. These are the four ways it happens: ingestion (swallowing pills or drinking liquids), inhalation (smoking weed), intra-venous (flu shot), and transdermal (remember those seasickness patches? transdermal delivery).
Ingestion is the most common. However, there are so many challenges with it. With ingestion, the medicine (or its active ingredient) has a long and arduous journey to get to the bloodstream, i.e., it has to survive the gastro-intestinal tract as well as processing through the liver (the body’s main detoxification organ) which is called first-pass liver loss.
The effectiveness of ingestion in delivering medicine to your bloodstream depends on factors like: how much you ingest, if you take it on an empty stomach or after you’ve eaten a three pieces of pizza and had a couple glasses of wine, if you are tired, if you exercise or not, your overall digestive health, your liver health, your overall metabolism rate. Often, we are not even sure when it gets there and when it does, how much actually got there. Ugh.
I have done a lot of self-experimentation over the years. And, I am now all about the transdermal delivery. So much so, that I envision all phase unfazed products to be transdermal :-)
Here’s how I stumbled into it. And why I love it.
I started using Vitex as a tincture diluted in water and drank it. Easy enough, right? I had challenges remembering to take it regularly. Pathetic. I also made it a priority to drink it on an empty stomach which also made it a little harder to manage. But really, I mean, how hard can it be? It’s just a drink. Turns out it’s not hard at all, really, but it was just hard enough that I often forgot. Sad but true.
It was frustrating because I really wanted to use this herbal remedy, I wanted relief from symptoms but, damn, it was just hard to be consistent. I had to figure out a better way. Taking the lead from herbalists and essential oil fans, I created my own transdermal formulation using Vitex essential oil (instead of the tincture). Basically, changing the “dose” to one drop of Vitex essential oil on my skin had equivalent impact and benefit as drinking the tincture. I was sold. Effective, efficient, immediate.
This kinda blew my mind, frankly.
At first blush it made sense. But my nerdy MIT-side had to research it. I found a study that showed it took 70x more ingested estradiol to get the same blood levels when applied transdermally. 70x more! I can’t seem to find the study anymore :-( but, I did find this. It shows, in a different study, that it takes up to 12x more via ingestion vs transdermal. And this study shows other benefits: more constant levels in the blood staying within normal range (not extreme peaks that happen when ingesting pills), lowered triglyceride levels and no effect on insulin and glucose tolerance.
Pretty compelling. 12x less active ingredient, quicker to arrive in the bloodstream, same or even better effectiveness.
And now, in a convenient, elegant roller. I just keep it at my bedside or in my bag. I barely miss a dose now. And, loving it.
Efficient, effective, immediate, and, seriously, now so easy to use. Who needs capsules anymore?