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Most of us are familiar with herbal tinctures, we used them for any number of needs.  I often get the question “How much should I take?”  It can get confusing, and there are some very important factors to keep in mind.  While it is not appropriate for me to be ‘prescribing’ herbal medicine, I can give you  some guidelines to use for your own determinations.

Dosage recommendations on the bottles of tinctures are just that ‘recommendations’. They are usually calculated for a 120 lbs. person and/or run along a ‘safe for most’ line of thought. I feel it is imperative to take a personal approach to herbalism and this certainly would include dosages.

A number of  things should always be taken into consideration such as: What is the weight as well as the age of the person. People who are very young or very old need to have consideration for that as well as weight.   For people in these categories, we often do better to give a smaller dose and consider giving it more often, rather then a normal (by weight) dose all at once or even consider another mode to administer our herbs. 

General health and wellbeing is another issue, as weaker, chronically ill people need to take things slow and easy. Often these folks are not at a point where they are absorbing nutrients very well so, again, we may choose another way to give them the herbs they need.  We have many choices to pick from and a combination is sometimes best.  Saving our tinctures for acute illnesses or first aid use may fit the bill better.  Other times tinctures fit into the chronic illness picture quite well, you just have to know the person’s situation and pick the right herbs, in tincture form for these issues.

There are also times when the dosage recommended on the bottle must be increased quite a bit for the correct result. A normal dose for one issue may be of no effect for another issue.  This is really important to consider when you are using tinctures in first aid or crisis situations, keeping in mind that you can go overboard and create problems too.  Obviously, people who are above the normal 120 lbs. dose recommendation will need to have their doses stepped up too.

People that consume a high protein diet should also be aware that taking tinctures with meals will delay their action. While this may not require an increased dose, it does need to be kept into consideration, because there may be a delay in reaction when taking tinctures with heavy protein diets.  Some herbs should be consumed with foods, others right before meals, etc.  Knowing your herbal tinctures and what you are hoping for, as an outcome can guide you in these decisions.

What the herbs are tinctured in is another consideration.  A blend or formula will also effect your dosage decisions as the more herbs in the formula, the more complicated your picture.  Some herbs assist other herbs in their actions, and others help drive the herbs into the body, to where they are needed.  Knowing what is in your formula and it’s intended purpose helps you know how to customize the dose.  Believe it or not, there are some formulas where herbs are added strictly to enhance flavor or other reasons that really don’t give you a medicinal benefit. 

With a little knowledge under your belt, you can learn how to read the labels on tinctures and source the really good manufacturers.  Of course, like anything, high quality tinctures will provide you the maximum benefit for your dose.  Good companies always include whether they used dried or fresh plant matter, what ratio the herbs to alcohol is and what percentage of alcohol is used, at the very least.

As a last consideration, pregnant and nursing women must exercise caution and knowledge in their choices of tinctures.  I always avoid using tinctures on wee babes as a general rule.  People using pharmaceuticals also do well to have professional assistance in making their choices of herbs in general and tinctures specifically.

I hope this little overview has been helpful.  As I always stress; herbalism is not about “take this much of this, for that” but rather is about taking the whole situation into account.  Know the person well, understand all their needs and individual circumstances, know the plants well, how they work and what they have to offer the situation and make a custom fit for best benefit.