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Herb dosage.

Problems:
Preparations:

From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net
To: herb.lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Herb] Testing Dilemna
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 00:42:34 -0400

Dear List

I stumbled onto a "testing dilemna", and would appreciate helpful comments....

Consider a tincture of any particular herb. The question is: How much of it should one take?

Conventional Western Medicine would suggest that there is a certain minimum dosage requirement, based on body weight, to get the desired effect. On the other hand, if one has a Homeopathic View, then one seeks to "potentiate" the tincture by dilution.

Heres the dilemna..... If I was taking say 1 cc of tincture per hour and was not getting the expected results, it may be that by CWM standards, I was not taking enough tincture. However, from the Homeopathic View, I should be taking less to get the desired potentiation.

How do I sort this one out???


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

>Heres the dilemna..... If I was taking say 1 cc of tincture per hour and was not getting the expected results

If you're taking that much, without results, you've got the wrong herb. Or an inert (too old?) herb. Or a herb that needs weeks or months of regular use to work.


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

Dear Henriette

Sorry for not expressing the question more clearly. Following is a rephrased statement of the question:

Heres the dilemna..... If I was taking say "X" cc per unit of time, of a tincture that was perfectly prepared and known to be perfectly appropriate for the condition at hand, and was not getting the expected results, it may be that by CWM standards, I was not taking enough tincture. However, from the Homeopathic View, perhaps I should be taking less to get the desired potentiation.

More specifically, should I INCREASE the intake of tincture, to cure the ailment by concentration, OR should I DECREASE the intake of tincture, to cure the ailment by potentiation?

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify the question.


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

From a herbalist point of view, you're taking the wrong herb.

Herbs work in many ways.

Some of us get them to work in drop doses, that is, 3 drops 1x/day.

Others need milliliters of the stuff - that is, an ounce (30 ml) used up every three days or so.

Herbs are different. They work differently on different people. AND they work differently for different herbalists, as well. Possibly because the herbalists who apply drop doses use the right herb.


From: "Phosphor" phosphor.hotkey.net.au

>More specifically, should I INCREASE the intake of tincture, to cure the ailment by concentration, OR should I DECREASE the intake of tincture, to cure the ailment by potentiation?

for most homeopathic preparations potentisation is primarily a product of succussion or shaking rather than merely dilution. the resulting curative potential may not be at all related to the usual use of the herb. to find out you would have to consult a homeopathic materia medica.

andrew


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

>Consider a tincture of any particular herb. The question is: How much of it should one take?

Dosage may be one of the most confusing aspects of herbalism, as it is dependent on so many things. Personal sensitivity, the strength of the preparation (either from the strength of the original herbs or the ratio if a tincture... 1:2, 1:4, 1:5...), and what you're treating can all call for different doses. Different schools of medicine also view dosage very differently. Herbal tincture doses are massive compared to homeopathic doses. Herbal tincture doses seem ridiculously small to some TCM students I've met (one suggested that administering herbs in such a small quantity simple couldn't be efffective... whatever).

I've learned lots from Matt Wood, who, when I first got his book confused the hell out of me by recommending herbs in doses of "3 drops, 3 times a day". It didn't make a lot of sense to me at first, but now I think that the closer one is to having the "right herb" for a problem (think specific indications), the less is needed dosage wise. Some herbs, and not nessearily strong or toxic ones, simply don't need to be taken in any substantial dosage becuase they work well at lower doses. Solomon's Seal is an example. 3-7 drops, 2-3 times a day can often proeduct miraculous results. You could, of course, take 20-40 and get miraculous results. Most people start off with higher dosages and never suspect that they could get the same results with less. As far as gearing dosage to body weight, it may be appropraite for some herbs, but you'll use far to mauch of others that are active at smaller dosages (Black Cohosh comes to mind).

The deciding factor is seeing what works. I'll often have people start off using 10 drops of tincture for the first week or so, and increase dosage if needed. Surprisingly often, that's sufficient. Makes an ounce of tinctures go thrice as far, too.

This can, however, be difficult to explain to some clients who are very linear and concrete. They want to look at the bottle and see what it says. I use Michael Moore's Materia Medica for a dosage range, then usually adjust it to say "take up to X# of drops". Old eclectic books are also great sources, as they were more attentive to dosage and didn't just write "take 30-60 drops" on everything.


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

Dear Jim

I get your points about differences in personal response, preparation, selection, etc. However, by assuming all these other varibles are a constant, and that dosage alone is the only variable, at lest we can make some progress in recommending a reasonably correct dosage.

> now I think that the closer one is to having the "right herb" for a problem (think specific indications), the less is needed dosage wise.

This is indeed an eye-opener, that "lower can be better." What then is the "limiting dosage?"

>You could, of course, take 20-40 and get miraculous results. Most people start off with higher dosages and never suspect that they could get the same results with less.

That is exactly the problerm I wish to address.

>As far as gearing dosage to body weight, it may be appropraite for some herbs, but you'll use far to mauch of others that are active at smaller dosages (Black Cohosh comes to mind).

This brings in another very important layer to the issue: Which herbal treatments and wellness conditions should be "Concentration Treatment", (CWM approach ) and which should be administered by "Dilution Treatment?" (Homeopathy approach)

> The deciding factor is seeing what works. I'll often have people start off using 10 drops of tincture for the first week or so, and increase dosage if needed. Surprisingly often, that's sufficient. Makes an ounce of tinctures go thrice as far, too.

OK... now you really address the issue: But why would you not REDUCE the drops of tincture to increase its effectiveness?

>Old eclectic books are also great sources, as they were more attentive to dosage and didn't just write "take 30-60 drops" on everything.

The "linear and concrete thinker" indeed has big trouble with such a blanket recommendation. For the very reasons you mention previously, required dosages vary with each case....

I am a rank amateur at Herbal Medicine... I welcome the insights into dosage that you Practicioners can provide.


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

I've been trying to write up a "dosage" handout to offer at my classes for a couple years now, trying to explain the "muddy waters" of the issue clearly & concisely....

So far, my muse hasn't obliged.

Really, the way I approach this craft tells me that the -intention- behind the prescription of certain herbs, and the relationship of the person preparing or taking the medicines with the plants can allow for a reduced dosage. I call these "energetic doses" or "etheric doses"... you're not so much addressing the manifest physical properties of an herb as using the "essence" of the herb. This isn't quite the same thing as homeopathy, or flower essence, though they all work based on the same principle, which is that plants have an "essence" that is their virtues. Its very "metaphysical", I suppose, a viewpoint that a clinical or modern herbalist would have difficulty with, but one that someone working in an indigenous mindset would readily recognize. And its a hard thing to have faith in, until you start working with it and learn to trust it (kind of like the doctrine of signatures). For me, after seeing impressive results using what would be considered "too small a dosage", I had to rethink the assumption that the prescriptions effectiveness rested on quantity.

What the best herbcraft rests on is relationships with the plants you use. In my opinion, its way better to understand a plant you've researched, identified, picked, tasted, smelled, chopped up, tinctured and taken than to have read use this many drops for this or that problem. Know what the properties of the herbs are and WHY its good for a particular condition. By being involved with the herbs as living beings, you'll develope an affinty for them and get to know them, get a feel for how to use them. There's so much to be said for this, I couldn't stress it enough. Its the difference between someone who's a rea' herbalist and someone whose just followong a process written down somewhere without really understanding what's going on.

And, of course, such a mindset is best enhanced by diligent study of the herbs "material actions" & history of use. The eclectics & physiomedicalists, through use & reliance on herbs, came up with what they called specific indications, which is a picture of the kind of illness, condition or imbalance an particular herb is particularly effective in treating. This also allows for decrease dosage, because, to use an old saying, "you're using the right tool for the right job." I suppose scientific studies are also valuable, but must admit I'm somewhat contemptuous of them - they seem to be swayed by who's paying for them, whether that's the medical establishment OR the herbal products industry. Besides, I need a study to tell me that Garlic is antiviral? Or that Hawthorne Berries improve heart function? That's been know for centuries, and proven in practice. No need to find a molecule to back it up, just so we can see physically what's happening.

I highly, highly, highly recommend getting a copy of Matthew Wood's "Book of Herbal Wisdom", which I think is the perfect book to bridge the gap between intermediate and more advanced herbcraft. And, the first few chapters are -invaluable-.

And when it comes down to it, you'll find that the plant world is sorely lacking in its ability to behave in a concrete manner. Just like you see on the sidewalk, they get their little roots into something solid and break it to pieces.


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

jim mcdonald wrote

> a viewpoint that a clinical or modern herbalist would have difficulty with

... I think you'd be surprised at just how many clinical, modern, practising herbalists know all about the metaphysical aspect of herbalism, and know it in their bones.

It's the theoretical folks who can't see it.

But then, they haven't given herbs to a few dozen or hundred clients. Which experience really teaches a lot.


From: "Bill Jacobson" williamj.nac.net

Native Americans believe that the herb is only the vehicle and that the element of cure comes from the relationship between the gatherer-medicine person and the Great Spirit, the gatherer summoning the cure from the Spirit and the Spirit placing it in the particular herb. Modes of collection and handling are equally ritualistic in such tribes, in that our ways of preparing the herbs are pretty ritualistic too. Also it takes special knowledge to know which herbs will offer themselves to be the vehicles for a particular cure.


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

>... I think you'd be surprised at just how many clinical, modern, practising herbalists know all about the metaphysical aspect of herbalism

yeah... I was thinking "modern" in the Jim Duke/Varro Tyler/Herbalgram vein... the "herb researchers" who tout the importance of "Standardized this & that with x many milligrams of whatchamacallitazine".

These people are usually not seeing clients, and so not really "clinical"... scientific, i guess...


From: "Cyli" cyli.visi.com

Kevin Chisholm wrote:

> Heres the dilemna..... If I was taking say 1 cc of tincture per hour and was not getting the expected results

Doesn't it depend greatly on the problem and the herb? It it's an acute condition and a fast acting herb, you'd expect to see results in a short time (never tried any herbs for acute conditions on myself, so I don't know how long.). I'd guess a couple of days or less. But if it's a long term condition and an herb that's more like a tonic effect on the condition or organ, it can take a few months.

That without even going into the dose size and strength. There again, it's obviously dependent on the condition and the herb.


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

Dear Ellie

> My training suggests that ground herbs in capsules are not potent (with exceptions, of course); however, I can find no "research" on this, except personal experience, which pretty much supports the extract theory.

Now you are getting right back to the complicated "dosing question" that I posed previously. Are they not "potent" because they are inadequately soluble, leading to an "underdosage" because CWM would feel that too little of the herb was utilized, OR were tehy not potent, because there was too much herb present, and it was not sufficiently potentiated, as per Homeopathic requirements?

> (And I wonder how so many companies are able to sell ground up herbs in capsules!)

If the ground up herbs are ineffcectve in capsule form, is it because:
1: There is too much herb present in teh capsule,
OR
2: There is too little herb in the capsule


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

> If the ground up herbs are ineffcectve in capsule form, is it because:

You ask all the wrong questions.


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

Dear Henriette

> You ask all the wrong questions.

Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But would you please help me ask the right questions, so that I can get the right answers?

At the present, I am either asking the right questions, and getting answers to a question that I did not ask, or I am asking the wrong questions and getting an answer to questions I did not ask. Other possibilities exist...

There are many "Healing Paradigms" and the "rules" for each would be expected to differ somewhat. The results with a given quantity of a given herb would be expected to differ in these different Systems, with all other factors being equal.

I am a non-Practitioner, and am more of a "Herbal Mechanic" rather than a "Healer." I am sure that there is a place for me in Herbal Medicine, and I am also sure that there are places in Herbal Medicine where I should not go.

I see from reading between the lines of the various postings on [Herb] that there are many caring and competent people here. Some lean toward the scientific aspect of things, while others lean toward the emotional aspect of things. There are no doubt many more dimensions to any particular Healing Paradigm. There is no question in my mind that a Practitioner who can develop a deep personal and caring bond with the Client can attain better results than could I, as a mere Herbal Mechanic, even if we both administered a herb treatment that was materially identical.

Herbal Medicine will benefit if you can help clarify where the different approaches and paradigms are appropriate.


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

> Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But would you please help me ask the right questions, so that I can get the right answers?

OK. WHY are you insisting on using non-holistic theories on a holistic modality?


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

> OK. WHY are you insisting on using non-holistic theories on a holistic modality?

I am a mere Herbal Mechanic, and not at all a Holistic Healer. Herbalism is not at all ONLY a Holistic Healing Paradigm... there is indeed room for a Herbal Mechanic. I know this for a fact because I feel that I have cured colds and infected wounds with the application of herbs in a non-holistic manner.

I operate most comfortably in the quantifiable universe of potentialities. I seek help in understanding the quantifiable aspects of Herbal Medicine.


From: May Terry mterry.snet.net

>Now you are getting right back to the complicated "dosing question" that I posed previously.

Hi Kevin,

I think that the difference between western herbalism and homeopathy is much more fundamental than 'more vs. less' herb. For one thing, an herb used homeopathically might be prescribed for a completely different condition than an herbalist would prescribe it for. Also, even one grain of a powdered echinacea root, for example, prescribed for an acute infection, is still essentially 'herbalism', as it differs from the preparation and philosophy behind homeopathy. You'll notice that many herbs considered to be toxic if taken internally are prescribed in homeopathic form (i.e., arnica, belladonna, rhus tox). You might want to pick up a book on homeopathy, or do a bit of internet research. I remain unconvinced about it--my western mind, I suppose--while I am thoroughly convinced that the right herb, even in small doses, is effective.


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

>If the ground up herbs are ineffcectve in capsule form, is it because:

This question simply doesn't work. Explaining why is evidently difficult, but here's a comparison:

Herbcraft, herbalism, herbalogy, herbistry, herbal mechanics, whatever you want to call it, is, like someone stated previously, "more of an art than a science", but there certainly is a "science" to it. Another subject that would be comparable is music; it is both very artistic, and very mathematical. The two aspects, though, and not really related in a functional way.

Your question sounds to an herbalist like this one would to a composer:

"Does this particular passage of music not impress listeners because there are to many notes in it, or not enough?"

Now, whether or not this is the intended expression of the idea you are inquiring about, this is how it is being expressed, and so responded to.

When you say that you're getting answers and ideas to a question that you didn't ask, its because the question you did ask, in some strange way, just doesn't really work.

Perhaps to get a better understanding of the difference between herbalism & homeopathy, you should research the fundamental concepts of each more fully, in the event of which you will understand that the "dosage" is not what seperates the two, at all. They are fundamentally different.

If you really want to explore dosage in terms of quantitative values of x or y chemical in this herb or that herb, you can try, but since the real answer to these questions is "NO ONE KNOWS", you might find it more frustrating than this string of responses.

If you want to learn how to better use herbs & herbal preparations to help yourself, friends and family with health problems or even just with cuts & burns, I'd advise you to not be attached to "quantifiable" answers and to aspire to moving beyond the "herbal mechanic". There are plenty of knowledgable people on this list who know that things work because they've been -doing- them, and an opportunity to ask questions and listen to the answers they give (even if not the ones you think you want) is pretty valuable.


From: "Kevin Chisholm" kchisholm.ca.inter.net

Dear Jim

> Your question sounds to an herbalist like this one would to a composer:

> "Does this particular passage of music not impress listeners because there are to many notes in it, or not enough?"

OK.... Yours is a very good example of the problems with my question. There is indeed a rational answer to both questions.... and it is basically as follows:

1: If you are treating some conditions, then dosage is important, because the herbs are consumed by the body in teh course of curing.

2: For other conditions, it is sufficient to have the mere presence of a measurable quantity of the herb, becuse in these cases, the herb acts catalytically on teh system, and is not consumed in the curative process.

The music analogy answer would be:
1: If the object is simplicity, then too many notes is bad.
2: If teh object is melody or euphony, then the number of notes is irrelevant.

>you're getting answers and ideas to a question that you didn't ask, its because the question you did ask, in some strange way, just doesn't really work.

I knew the question didn't work..... I posed it to highlight the problem and get a better understanding of whats going on, whats relevant, and what other healing paradigms are at play.

> Perhaps to get a better understanding of the difference between herbalism and homeopathy, you should research the fundamental concepts of each more fully, in the event of which you will understand that the "dosage" is not what seperates the two, at all. They are fundamentally different.

OK... but when the treatment reaches the body, what does the body see that is different between Homeopathic and Herbal treatments? My concern was that as I reduced the Herbal Quantities in testing that I might inadvertently drift into Homeopathic Quantities, and end up "Bath Tub Curve Results" (Good results at low and high concentrations, but poor results over a broad range of intermediate concentrations.)

> If you really want to explore dosage in terms of quantitative values of x or y chemical in this herb or that herb, you can try, but since the real answer to these questions is "NO ONE KNOWS", you might find it more frustrating than this string of responses.

I am certainly not even considering "pure component dosages".... only the "balanced herb dosages." In CWM, the dosages are closely related to body weight; in Herbalism, there may not be a relationship between dosage and body weight. Thats OK, just so long as we are aware of the "Rules of the Road" that apply for different Healing Paradigms. It is now starting to appear to me that the reluctance for Herbalists to treat based on the concentration of "standardized components" within a herb also extends to treatment with whole balanced herbs.

> If you want to learn how to better use herbs & herbal preparations to help yourself, friends and family with health problems or even just with cuts and burns, I'd advise you to not be attached to "quantifiable" answers and to aspire to moving beyond the "herbal mechanic".

I would think that first, I become a Herbal Mechanic, and then I grow further to become a Healer, if I have such potential for growth.

> There are plenty of knowledgable people on this list who know that things work because they've been -doing- them, and an opportunity to ask questions and listen to the answers they give (even if not the ones you think you want) is pretty valuable.

Indeed it is!! I seek only truth, not validation of my present beliefs.

Thanks indeed for your helpful comments.

Kevin


From: Susan Marynowski sumar.mail.ifas.ufl.edu

Kevin: Maybe I can muddy the doseage waters a bit more! In my world, doseage per se is hardly ever a problem. More of a problem for me is finding that magic and holistic match of the right herb for the condition/person, an art and a science that I am trying to learn. In my limited experience, if the right herb is given, doseage is almost irrelevant (within safe-use guidelines, of course....I don't want to start a storm of protest here!). I understand that you were trying to ask a question purely about doseage, given that all other factors are fixed, but as has been said, if the herb is not working, it is probably not the right herb. In other words, instead of thinking about adjusting doseage in the case of a remedy not working, you should being thinking about adjusting the treatment/herb.

I echo Jim's suggestion to read Matthew Wood, because his practice of matching the herb to the "specific" condition/person is exquisite, resulting in use of very low (still "herbal," not "homeopathic") doseages. I have always thought that the more *specific* the treatment, the lower the doseage and length of treatment necessary....and the more *simple* the treatment (i.e., single or few herbs), the better the match should be between herb and condition/person. The reverse is also true...if you want to treat lots and lots of people with varying conditions and without getting too terribly specific, you make up a slate of formulas for more generalized conditions (and sell them on the internet!). This is not to say that complex formulas can't treat specific conditions, just that more specificity is demanded if you are going to be simpling.

Cheers, Susan in Florida
(Back from a long and blessed computer hiatus....Herblist is still the best!)



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