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Plant Medicines and Dosage Strategies

It’s one of the most asked questions by my students. And it gets asked in advanced, intermediate and beginning class alike. “How do you know how much to give?”

There are many schools of thought on tincture dosing. And within those schools, many of us herbalists have our own style of working.

Personally, I’m not a one size fits all practitioner I tend towards smaller doses for long term problems, and smaller formulas of plants, too. But I never say never on larger formulas, and larger doses. There is often a time when you have to think medically and energetically about a health problem, while there are certainly times when I think energetically first.

To answer the question about dosing tinctures, here are a few of my general strategies.

 

1. 2-5 drop doses of a single plant taken 3-4 times a day.

2. A formula of 3 plants that I may recommend a person take 10 drops of 3-4 times daily.

3. The medical dose, which is perhaps a formula of 4-5 plants, I may recommend that 35 drops 3 times daily be ingested.

For chronic disease, or dysfunction, I opt to begin with strategy 1 or 2 for dosing, depending on the person. Sometimes with a client, I want to see where the energy goes, and how it affects them. And sometimes, my approach is also that we are undoing layers with one plant at a time. That I’m either taking things slow, or waiting to see what happens after relaxing or stimulating, the choice of which is made based on the person. In these cases, small dose single plant for certain.

If the variables of lifestyle are small, and the person seems of strong constitution, I may go with 1 or 2.

If there is risk of medical intervention that the client would like to avoid, and can, and the client is willing to alter their diet a bit, and improve their lifestyle to meet conditions for avoiding the medical intervention, then we take the medical approach, number 3.

And then there is the person who is working with other practitioners and needs a few holes filled in. In those cases, I’m basically seeing what needs filling in. Dosage options 1 or 2 fit for this.

If the issue is an acute infection, then higher doses of formulas are typically necessary, and taking them more frequently throughout the day, and overnight if necessary. In those cases, strategy 3 is best, and taking things 4-6 or 8 times daily (situation dependent).

These ways of looking at dosing and the number of plants in a formula are flexible. I like to work with ideas, but also know that within those ideas, the person comes first. The fact is, we don’t need to attach ourselves to one dosing or formulating strategy.

When formulating and dosing is more an art than a science, though, it is difficult to teach. So, how does one teach that? By teaching how to read a persons humors, assessing what is happening in them, by listening to them talk, and gaging the strength in their words and voice, and by watching them taste things in a consultation. I also watch how someone approaches tasting the plant. Do they stop and hold the bottle for a bit, or breath deeply before tasting? Do they light up or crumble energetically and in their face when the herb hits their tongue? All signs of sensitivity, of need, and of how easy it will be to move energy for them.

Of course, these observances are just examples. There are many others. But I wanted to address briefly this idea of dosage strategy. With all that said, I haven’t even begun to talk about the dosages of teas, or the strength of the tincture one is using, and how that will affect a dose. Those ideas will be for another conversation.

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