Capsule Making – an Ongoing Task

Capsules are an important way of prescribing herbs in my clinic.

I have always favoured prescribing tinctures but there are situations where you can’t beat being able to prescribe tailor made capsules.  For example when a patient has an inflammatory condition in the digestive tract they need soothing demulcent herbs such as Ulmus fulva (slippery elm) and Althaea officinalis (marshmallow root). These herbs get right to where they are needed when prescribed as capsules or powder.

When I first started in practice I used to make up capsules the hard way – by hand – separating the two ‘halves’ of each capsule and dibbing the larger bit into a container of powdered herb to fill it before sealing it with its own lid.  This was a time consuming operation to say the least but I viewed it as a meditation.  I would sit quietly filling capsules and focus on the healing work that they would do for the chosen patient.

As my practice grew I spent more and more time filling capsules and it seemed that no sooner had I filled them, patients were back needing more supplies.  I could no longer keep up.  I didn’t want to buy in ready made capsules because a large part of my ethos as a herbalist is that I grow or gather most of the herbs that I use. It goes without saying that I would prefer to use my own lovingly harvested and dried herbs in my own medicines.

So what to do, what to do?  I started looking into capsule filling equipment and soon realised that there are widely differing levels of sophistication with matching equivalent price tags.  I asked around and did my research and decided that what I needed was a Profill 100 which is made by Aldephi Manufacturing at Haywards Heath here in the UK.  A beautifully crafted piece of equipment but with an understandably hefty price tag.

I think that these nettle capsules look more like jewels than medicines!

Looking back now I really don’t know why I hesitated for so long before buying one of  these.  As a herbalist it has honestly changed my life.  It has allowed me to offer more flexible and better balanced treatment to my patients and spend more time treating patients and less time sitting in front of bowls of powder and empty capsules.  I am able to use my own freshly harvested and dried herbs which are full of healing vibrancy.  My nettle capsules are like beautiful jade beads which would not look out of place worn as a necklace.  Colour may not be everything, but a herbalist learns to be guided by colour, scent and taste, and I know that my capsules are as good as I can make them.

So without turning this into a homage to my capsule maker I will just take you through the steps involved in capsule making here at Myrobalan Clinic.

Once the powders have been prepared they are weighed and then mixed. This formula is a simple one with only three herbs.

Firstly the herbs are weighed and ground in accordance with the chosen formula for the capsules to be made.

Once the powders are mixed they are set aside to wait for the capsule maker to be loaded.  Empty vegetarian capsules are poured into the orientator and this magically loads the capsules the right way round in the filler.

Cleverly the filler allows you to remove all the lids of the capsules in one easy step, allowing you to concentrate on filling your creations with freshly ground herbs.  Once they are filled you can replace the lids and ‘Bob’s your uncle!’ there you have one hundred freshly made capsules in the space of around 3 minutes and a few healing mantras of the Medicine Buddha.

Empty capsules all lined up in the filler.

The freshly ground and mixed herbal powders are smoothed into the larger 'halves' of the capsules.

The powder is tamped down into the capsule halves.

The lids have been pushed onto the capsules and they are ready to be decanted into a dish.

For more information about Myrobalan Clinic visit www.myrobalanclinic.com 

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About myrobalanclinic

I am a registered medical herbalist who uses a unique approach combining Tibetan Medicine with Western Herbal Medicine. I love my job - it is so rewarding seeing people taking control of their health and feeling healthier and more positive. I like to think that I help people get more out of life.
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2 Responses to Capsule Making – an Ongoing Task

  1. Helen Romberg says:

    Have you found a good grinder to get the fine powder you need?

  2. Hi Helen – Yes I bought a Vitamix 500 and I use the dry grinder attachment for my powders. I grind them in small batches to avoid exposing them to too much heat. It is a really powerful grinder and copes with even very hard roots etc. 🙂

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