Don’t Guess — Know These Popular Herbal Supplement Doses
Herbal supplements are quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional medicines to cope with, and even cure, everyday ailments such as anxiety, depression, lack of focus, stress, and common viruses, like the cold or flu. But, unlike regulated medicine, recommended doses aren’t alway clear on the packaging of many herbal supplements. Frustrating, right? That’s why we asked the brilliant medical herbalist, Daniela Turley to share her knowledge on herbal supplement doses.
As she told the fashionable health-conscious crowd during the CB Kickstarter’s Guide To Herbal Supplements event at the SoHo House New York: “You wouldn’t drink just a half a cup of coffee to wake yourself up if you were really tired, would you? Same goes for herbal supplements. You need to make sure you’re taking enough, often enough, to see the benefits.” That said, you also don’t want to overdose and risk any adverse reactions. So, the next time you want to pop some lemon balm to deal with an anxiety episode or take echinacea to kill your cold, make sure you know your dose.
Check out Daniela’s cheat sheet, right here.
Benefits: Helps prevent getting sick, rich in Vitamin B; adaptogenic (good for stress); also used for tumor inhibition. Great to boost immunity. Large amounts can be taken very safely.
Dosage: For mild to moderate immune support, take two 400mg capsules morning and evening. For specific immune suppressed conditions, take 2 to 3 capsules three times a day. If you prefer a tincture, take 10ml three times a day.
Try: Four Sigma Foods Instant Reishi, $30 for 20 convenient instant sachets.
Benefits: Natural antibiotic; reduces hypertension, cholesterol, risks of cardiovascular diseases. Garlic is good to take if there’s a family history of cardiovascular disease, but it can thin your blood. Consult a doctor if you have clotting disorders.
Dosage: 300 to 1,000mg of garlic extract (as solid material) per day. Other preparations should correspond to 4mg to 12mg of alliin or 2mg to 5mg of allicin, an active constituent of garlic.
Try: Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract, which is coated to protect the delicate allicin from stomach acid.
RHODIOLA (ROSE ROOT)
Benefits: Improves energy, stamina and focus; adaptogenic (good for stress); anti-depressant. Treats mild to moderate depression. Since it is an energizing herb, only take it in the morning and at lunch. If taken any later, it may disrupt sleep. Also reduce caffeine intake. It is not recommended for people who feel hyper—St John’s Wort is a better alternative.
Dosage: Look for a standardized concentration of 3% rosavins and 1% salldrosides. Take 300mg to 600mg daily, depending on how sensitive your response is. Start low and increase slowly. Or take a (1:2) tincture of 20 to 40 drops twice a day.
Try: Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health, $30.
ST JOHN’S WORT
Benefits: Studies suggest it effectively treats mild to moderate depression, working as well as drugs like Prozac or Zoloft, without the loss of sex drive. St. John’s Wort is a safe, well-tolerated herb, however it can increase photosensitivity. In high doses, it can cause symptoms of excess serotonin, including restlessness.
Dosage: Take 300mg capsules (standardized to 0.3% hypericin extract) three times a day with meal. Look for time-release capsules. For a (1:2) tincture, take 20 to 40 drops three times a day. Note that it may take up to four weeks to feel any effects.
Try: Gaia Herbs St. Johns Wort Emotional Health, $29.
Benefits: Protects against liver damage by stabilizing the liver cell membrane. It may also have potential in treating diabetes and cancer. It has also been positively researched in protecting the brain from the development of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dosage: Take four 9g capsules or two 200mg tablets per day. If you prefer a tincture, take 4ml to 9ml per day.
Try: Standard Process Milk Thistle 1:1, $56 for 20ml.
MELISSA (LEMON BALM)
Benefits: Treats anxiety and has been shown to increase calmness while increasing alertness at the same time. It also helps digestive disorders. A very safe herb with no known side effects.
Dosage: Take one 600mg capsule three times a day or a tincture of 2ml three times a day.
Try: Gaia Herbs Lemon Balm, $12.
Benefits: Potent anti-inflammatory qualities aide conditions associated with inflammation, ranging from autoimmune diseases to arthritis. It has been shown in many studies to have anti-cancerous potential. Also may be of use in reducing LDL cholesterol and depression. Due to its gallbladder stimulating effect, do not take with obstructive gallstones. It can also interfere with blood thinning medications in high doses.
Dosage: Curcumin, the active ingredient, is poorly absorbed. However piperene (black pepper) greatly improves absorption. Curcumin is fat soluble, so take 400mg to 600mg of standardized powder three times a day with fat or a high alcohol (1:2) tincture of 15-30 drops four times a day.
Try: Gaia Herbs Turmeric Extreme, $30, which also contains black pepper.
Benefits: Reduces nausea; anti-ulcer activity; anti-inflammatory; anti-cancerous. As ginger can irritate the gut in high doses, start low and increase. Ginger thins the blood so caution with blood thinning agents.
Dosage: Take 500mg to 1000mg of fresh root three times a day. For capsules, take 500mg three times day. For a tincture, take a (1:2) with 10 drops three times a day. Alternatively, use dried ginger tea bags to reduce the pain of arthritis or improve peripheral circulation.
Try: Standard Process Ginger, $53 for 200ml.
PANAX GINSENG (KOREAN GINSENG)
Benefits: Helps the body cope with stress and increases immunity, energy, working memory and focus. Also significantly improves fasting blood glucose. Has been shown to reduce your chance of getting a cold due to its immune boosting effects. Ginseng is a wonderful herb but is stimulating, so side effects include restlessness and insomnia. As it reduces blood sugar, always take it with a meal.
Dosage: Take 200mg capsules of a (5:1) standardized extract or a (1:2) tincture of 20 to 60 drops three times a day. Note: Ginseng interacts with many medications, so consult with your doctor first.
Try: Solgar Korean Ginseng Extract, $17.
Benefits: A good preventative herb to take during the winter or during an acute infection. Immune-boosting and antiviral properties reduce the severity and duration of colds and chronic infections, such as sinusitis and acne. Do not take echinacea if you’re on immune suppressing medication.
Dosage: Take 300mg of standardized, powdered extract containing 4% phenolics once a day. Or, prepare a tincture of 20 to 30 drops three times a day.
Try: A. Force Echinaforce, $14 for 1.7oz., taken every four hours during an acute infection.
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