Posts Tagged ‘dose control’

Some of the critics of herbal medicine say that herbs are hazardous because typical preparation directions  (1 — 2 tablespoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water, steeped for 10 — 20 minutes) yields infusions with highly variable doses of the medicinally active compounds. In contrast, when people take pharmaceuticals, they know exactly how much of the active ingredients they’re getting.

Yes, the critics do have a point. Herb potency depends on the plant genetics, growing conditions, maturity at harvest, time in storage, the possibility of adulteration, and the preparation method.  For example, a cup of instant coffee contains about 65 milligrams of caffeine. Cappuccino drinks may contain more than 300.

On the other hand, you need to look no further than the statistics on the suicide to know that precise dose control is no guarantee that pharmaceuticals will be safely used safely. In addition, drug effects depend on body weight. A standard dose of pharmaceutical drugs taken by a person who weighs 120 lbs has a greater effect then the same dose taken by someone who weighs 200 lbs. Lastly individuals vary, different people often have different reactions to the same drugs.

How do you react to drugs? For a headache, the standard adult dose is 2 tablets every 4 hours. Through experience some people realize that 1 tablet provides sufficient relief while others must take 3.

In general healing herbs cause less side effects than pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals tend to be highly concentrated. Pills and capsules have little taste. Both factors that make taking an overdose easier. The active constituents of herbs are less concentrated, and most herbs taste bitter, both which help to discourage an overdose. Nonetheless, those who use healing herbs must strive for good dose control.

The doses that I will recommend on this blog represent a consensus of the opinions found in both traditional herbs and scientific references. In the cases where my sources disagreed significantly, I will recommend the smaller amount, in the belief that it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Today, an increasing number of herbal medicines are available in pills and capsules as standardized extracts. This means that the plants were grown from seeds or clones known to produce a certain concentration of the pharmacologically active compounds. The plants are then harvested, stored, and prepared under controlled conditions to produce dose uniformity.

Standardized extracts are not quite as dose-controlled as laboratory-synthesized pharmaceuticals, but they are considerably more dose-controlled than bulk herbs. When you buy commercial preparations, look for the standardized extracts.



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