An ancient approach to dosing with herbs – it’s simple!

Endangered Herbs Part 3

This month an insight into different ways Herbalists prescribe dosages of herbs.

Official dosages of herbs are given in the British Herbal Pharmacopeia, which very precisely outlines the type of preparation, concentration and dosage in millilitres.  It’s a reference text for many herbalists.

Another school of Herb dosing exists which is called simpling. It has deep roots in folk herbalism going back may centuries. This means that prescriptions are often a single herb and the dose is given in drops. XYZ number of drops so many times per day.

The legendary Australian Herbalist Dorothy Hall (who trained a lot of currently practising herbalists) taught dosage to her students by drops and also the aim of being able to see clearly when a single herb would do.

Kim Dudley (Dorothy Hall & Kim Dudley sadly now deceased) continued teaching the simpling practice. Kim and his business partner Homeopath Tim Thomas held many classes in Canberra teaching people a deeper relationship with herbs and how to drop dose with single herbs.

Matthew Wood author and well-known North American Herbalist bases his approach to herbalism on drop dosing and the use where appropriate of single herbs.

The benefit of simpling is that a smaller volume of herb is used in practice and for endangered herbs this means precious tincture is conserved.

Just to clarify the drop dosing range goes form 1 -35 or more drops per dose depending on the situation and the herb needed.

A caveat for the eager beaver home herbalist – always be taught and guided by an experienced professional in the field.

Drops are an easy measure of volume – no fiddly measuring vial and trying to see the gradations on the side of a measuring container. A rule of thumb is 15 drops to one ml.

Some final observations…

What I have noticed and seen in my own usage is this.

As your knowledge of the plants and its potential increases (not just book knowledge) so the dosage you need to be effective reduces.

It works in my view based on a deep relationship and knowledge of the plant. You then become the intent of the plant.

To be able to experience an intense health issue then use a single herb to resolve it creates a reference experience for the rest of your life – If you are paying attention and don’t just forget about it.  This is how you gain true medicine power.

It’s also how you really learn about a herb. You have been there.

From my personal experience It’s a tradition best taught and led into by someone more experienced. In other words, some sort of apprenticeship or initiation.  

Keep in mind drop dosing is somewhat controversial in the professional sphere as there are different camps based on peoples training.

In some quarters it is looked down upon or not trusted as it seems not scientific enough.  Once you experience it, you will think otherwise.