looked at several sources before writing this blog entry, most notably the
introduction to Notes From South Mountain,
A Guide to Concentrated Herb Granules by Andrew Ellis, and an excellent
article written by Eric Brand entitled Global
Trends in Concentrated Extracts, which can be found in PDF format at his
website on this page: http://www.legendaryherbs.com/professionalcorner.html.
Both of these sources, and some others, refer to a method for dosing that I had
not been fully exposed to in my herbal education: the use of a daily total dosage as the point of orientation from which to determine individual herb
dosages. In Notes From South Mountain,
for example, Ellis writes that “…experience has shown that, for herb concentrates,
10 grams per day (approximately three grams, three times daily) is generally an
effective dose. Thus, the prescribed herbs and formulas must be fit into a
10-gram-per-day dose” (p. XIX). This is not as simplistic as it may seem: Ellis goes
on to provide much additional information about dosing and the methods he
describes form a functional system. He also makes it clear that this system is
a reflection of established Taiwanese dosing methods.
got more interesting, however, when I looked at Brand’s article—he writes, for example,
granules are generally used at a dose of around 18g/day in Taiwan, but many
practitioners in the US use doses as low as 4—6 g/day. Perhaps the majority of
Western practitioners prescribe granules in a dose range of around 6—12g/day,
but many practitioners remain uncertain about how proper granule dosing is
determined” (p. 9). Brand also mentions
that raw herb packets, which are
traditionally decocted and taken as one-day dosages, are often used over two
days “in the Americas” (p. 9). He writes
that, “Despite the fact that North American patients tend to have a higher body
weight than their Asian counterparts, they often consume Chinese herbs at a
dosage that is essentially half of the traditional dose” (p. 9).
From all of this I can derive that A: we clearly under-dose in the U.S. and B: the method of working from a daily total dosage to individual herb dosages leads directly to the problem of setting that daily total dosage—4 grams per day? 10 grams? 18 grams?? The methods described in this blog largely reflect what I was taught: to arrive at dosages by looking at recommended raw herb dosages and at the ratios established between raw herbs and concentrated granules. After surveying other methods, I have chosen not to change my ways (and I should probably thank my teachers). I felt, and still feel, that the best information about herb dosages can be found in the classical literature. Why, for example, would we cut dosages in half? Under what auspices would we do this? I can accept that the raw-to-granule concentration ratios are a little fuzzy, but I need to keep the recommended raw dosages, established over thousands of years, as my main points of reference.
thorny problem is the aforementioned fuzziness: raw-to-granule ratios are not
as precise as we might like them to be. Assuming that some small errors will be made
in assessing the potency and efficacy of the granules we administer, how should
we proceed? This is the best answer I could come up with: according to our own expert opinions based on training and experience. Perhaps the art of arriving at proper dosages has most to do with striking a balance between conservative dosing and maximally effective dosing.