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Getting the Dose Right

Written by Sebastian Pole

Ayurveda has a theory that anything can be a food, a medicine or a poison, depending on ‘Who is having How much of What and When‘. We all know when we have had too much of something, be it cold wind, hot sun or pizza. But do we really know how to use herbs in the right way and at the right dose? For example, fresh ginger root is a delicious flavour in food and helps digestion. It can be a stimulating medicine when used for therapeutic purposes, such as in a hot tea to ease a cold or induce a sweat. However, if too much is taken it can cause acidity, hence acting as a poison in the wrong circumstances. That is why there is no absolute right dose per se, there are some long tested methods used in herbalism.

‘There is nothing in the world which does not have therapeutic utility in appropriate conditions and situations’. Charaka Samhita

Just as ‘One person’s meat is another person’s poison’ a therapeutic dose depends as much on the specific nature of the herb you are using as on the person’s age, sex, constitution, digestive capacity, strength, stage of the disease and the season in which the treatment takes place. All these need to be considered to ensure ‘you’ as a complete entity are seen in context.

(Very) Generally speaking:

  • Low dose (0.5-3g of herb powder) balances and nourishes the natural functions of the body.
  • Medium dose (3-9g) stimulates a specific therapeutic effect that treats a systemic imbalance.
  • High dose (9-30g) either drains or tonifies the whole system.

Sebastian Pole
I am a registered member of the Ayurvedic Professionals Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and a Fellow of the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. I qualified as a herbalist with the aim of using the principles of Ayurveda (the ancient art of living wisely) and the Herbal tradition to help transform health. I have been in clinical practice since 1998.

Having co-founded Pukka Herbs in 2001 I have become experienced in organic herb growing, practitioner grade quality and sustainable value chains. I am a Trustee of the FairWild Foundation, a Director of The Betonica School of Herbal Medicine and an Advisor to The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and The Sustainable Herbs Project. Fluent in Hindi, a qualified Yoga therapist and passionate about projects with a higher purpose, I am on a mission to bring the incredible power of plants into people’s life. And that is why I started Herbal Reality and what it is all about.

I live in a forest garden farm in Somerset growing over 100 species of medicinal plants and trees. And a lot of weeds!

Author of Ayurvedic Medicine, The Principles of Traditional Practice (Elsevier 2006), A Pukka Life (Quadrille 2011), Celebrating 10 Pukka years (2012) and Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea (Frances Lincoln 2016).

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