‘I want to use herb X. How much do I take?’ This is such a common question and there is no right answer for everyone. Every individual is going to have a different response to each herb and when there is not response, it might not have been the right herb in the first place. When choosing your herbs I always recommend starting to work with an herbal practitioner so they can help you get back into balance and they will be able to guide you towards what herbs are best for you to maintain your daily health.
There are some herbs like nettles, oats, and plantain that we probably should all be taking on a daily basis just due to their mineral content. When used daily these herbs are commonly called nourishing herbal infusions, a term that came to use from Susan Weed. These herbs you will take in higher dosages as a water infusion daily than you would take in a blend with other herbs.
How much water
When making a tea it is not how many cups of tea that is important it is how many grams of herbs. It is important to always measure your herbs by weight and not by volume because the volume can easily fluctuate when weight will stay the same depending no matter how much you have packed your container. You can use 2 grams of herbs in 1 cup of water or in 4 cups of water-that is the same amount of medicine. Remember water extracts only keep for 15 hours on the counter or 48 hours in the fridge before they can start to mold. Make your tea fresh each time you take your medicine.
Doses for kids
When dosing for kids, always assume that the dosage you look up is for a 150lb adult. Take the weight of your child and calculate the appropriate dosage for your child. So if the dosage of the herb is listed as 3g, for a 150lb adult, if you have a 50lb child you want to use only 1g of herb.
Understand what you are reading
When you do find a book you feel confident with, be sure to look at the dosages for a variety of herbs and understand how the author has displayed the dosages. It is easy to see in a book that a dosage of 3-9g and then in another book for the same herb see 1-3g. This is because the second book lists dosages when you take them three times a day and the first is how many total grams you should take through the day. Be sure to understand what your book lists, the daily or dosage each time you take your herbs.
Each herb that is discussed in our Materia Medica class has the dosages broken down for all of the common herbal preparations for the herb. If you are unclear on what tincture doses mean (when you read 1:5 45%) I recommend learning more on this detailed math through our Herbal Product Preparations class.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultations visit The Dancing Herbalist.com.