Determining dosages for herbs can feel overwhelming and tricky, especially when you're new to herbs and you want to keep things simple.
However, finding and taking the right dosage of herbs is important if you want herbs to work.
Today, I want to try to uncomplicate this matter by teaching you about determining herbal dosages... specifically for herbal powders. So whether you're adding herbal powders to your food, using them in an electuaries or pastilles, or putting them in capsules, if you follow the steps below, you should be able to get very close to the dosage you need.
Three Dosage Variables
When it comes to determining dosage for herbs, there are a few variables to consider before you get started.
- Who's using the herbs? A child or an adult?
- What form are the herbs in? Tincture, infusion, powder, etc.?
- What are the herbs being used for? An acute or chronic condition?
The first variable - who's using the herbs - is based on weight.
Most doses are for a 150-pound adult so if you are trying to find a dosage for your child or your husband, you're going to need to increase or decrease the recommendation a bit. To do this, it's easiest to follow a dosing formula like Clark's Rule, Cowling's Rule, or Young's Rule. Personally, I find Clark's Rule the easiest to follow, but you should try the different ones to see what you prefer.
The second variable - what form are the herbs in - is based on concentration.
As you probably already know, a tea is less concentrated than a tincture so if you're using infusions for a particular situation you would need to drink more of it throughout the day than if you were using an herbal tincture instead. Today we'll be focusing on finding dosages for herbal powders only.
The third variable - what are the herbs being used for - is based on the condition itself.
Most times, small, frequent doses are used for acute conditions whereas larger, infrequent doses are used for chronic conditions. An example of this would be a cough. If you have a viral illness that results in a cough and you want to take an antispasmodic tincture to help you sleep at night, you're probably going to take small, frequent doses of it starting a couple hours before bed. However, if you have chronic bronchitis and you have a cough with that, you're more likely going to need a different remedy that is taken in larger doses over a longer period of time.
These three variables are going to be important for you to find the dosage you need.
3 Steps To Determining Dosage
1 - Start With A Dosing Formula
The first thing I do when determining dosage is to start with a dosing formula. If I'm trying to figure out how much powder to put into an electuary for my child, I need to know how much of the adult dose they need. Is it 1/2 the adult dose? Is it 1/4 of the dose? Maybe it's less than that. The best way to figure it out is to use a dosing formula.
Using dosing formulas for adults isn't as big of a deal. If I need to find a dosage for someone who weighs 185-pounds and I know most dosage recommendations are for a 150-pound person, I simply take their weight and divide it by 150 to see how much more I need to give them. Using the weight example just mentioned, my calculation would come to 1.23333 which means I would need to give them the full recommended dosage plus another 1/5 of the full dosage to get as close to the right dose for their weight as possible. So if the recommended adult dosage were 15-20 drops of a tincture, I would need to give this person 18-24 drops.
Are you following me? If that sounds a bit too complicated or you're getting a messy calculation that's baffling you (we're not all math whizzes, right?), move on to the next step.
2 - Find The Recommended Dosage
Finding the recommended adult dosage can sometimes be tricky, depending upon where you're getting your remedy and information from.
Many experienced herbalists who write books will list dosage recommendations in the materia medica section of the book or along with the remedies themselves. Sometimes these recommendations will tell you the dosage based on the type of preparation used which is very helpful. If you're getting your remedy online, sometimes bloggers will list dosage recommendations alongside the remedy recipe which is a good practice.
Often times, though, there won't be a recommendation, and you'll have to titrate the dose which we'll talk about next.
3 - Titrate The Dose
Whether you follow the steps above to find the right dose or you have no clue and you're starting from scratch, you're still going to need to learn how to titrate the dose.
Let's say you have found the weight-based dosage and you know what the recommended dosage is for the herbs you're using. This dosage is just a starting point... a recommendation based on years of use. It's the dosage that has yielded the best results consistently. However, we are all different, and our bodies all need different things. This is where titrating comes into play.
On the other hand, perhaps you have no clue about the weight-based dose or the recommended dose and you're trying to figure out what you need to take to get the results you're looking for. Again, titrating the dose comes into play.
If you have an idea of your dosage, you'll start by taking that dosage as often as needed. Remember the third variable? The frequency (as in how many times a day you'll take your herbal remedy) of your dosage will depend on whether your condition is acute or chronic. You need to decide if you need to take smaller amounts more often or larger amounts less often based on the condition you have.
If you don't have any ideas about the dosage, determine your frequency and start with a small dose and work your way up in increments until you get the results you're looking for. I have found that this is the best method for determining dosages for herbs, and it's the one I use most often.
More Tips On Powdered Herb Dosages
- Most herbs are mild and gentle. If you get a little too much and you experience unwanted effects such as a headache or nausea, simply decrease the dose a bit and see if the unwanted effects go away.
- I find that it's best to use powdered herbs in loose form when possible as capsules can hold large amounts and it's easier to take too much in that form.
- Keep records of what you're taking as well as how much and how often you take it.
So there you have it. Finding dosages for herbs can be difficult at times, but there are ways to narrow in on it, and if all else fails, remember to start with a low dose and titrate it up slowly.