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Herb and Formula Questions

  • Dosage and Use

    The standard daily dosage for the average adult is 6.0 grams. Assuming this dosage, a 100-gram packet will provide about 16-17 daily doses. A level teaspoon of granules is equal to approximately 3 grams. A 1-gram plastic white spoon is provided by the manufacturer for easy measuring and use. We recommend that one teaspoon of granules or three 1-gram spoonful’s be taken once in the morning and again in the evening.

    Preferably, the herbs should be taken on an empty stomach, either 20-30 minutes before meals or at least an hour after meals. If the herbs are being used to treat digestive disturbance or weakness, we suggest that you do not eat raw or sour foods while on an herbal regimen. In general, the Chinese recommend that large amounts of fried food be avoided during most herbal therapies. Otherwise, you may follow your normal diet or any recommended diet.

    When experiencing new symptoms or flare-up of chronic symptoms, the dosage many be increased.  For example, you may take a teaspoon of granules three times per day rather than twice per day, or you may take two teaspoons of granules twice per day. Large does are not toxic, but excessive dosage could cause gastrointestinal disturbance or headaches. For long-term use as a tonic or preventive medicine, the dosage can be reduced to 1/2 teaspoon twice per day or one teaspoon once per day.

  • What is the advantage of using concentrated Chinese Herbal Formulas?

    The cost of concentrated extract granules is about the same as the cost of herbal prescriptions that use whole herbs to make teas. In other words, the extra convenience of taking granules rather than making teas and drinking them is at virtually no extra cost. A few of the formulas are more expensive, but it can be advised to use a less expensive formula after one month of treatment. When a formula is notably effective, one can immediately see that the expense was well worth it.

  • Why Use Chinese Herbs Rather Than Western Herbs?

    There are valuable herbs growing everywhere in the world. Selecting the most useful plants, determining which plant parts ought to be used, and deciding the correct method of using them are the tasks herbalists must tackle. In China, unlike other parts of the world, herbalists have sought out specialized tonic herbs that can be taken daily for improvement of physical condition, enhancement of energy, increase in resistance to disease, and prolongation of life.

    The term "Western herbs" mostly applies to the method of using the herbs rather than the regional origin of the herbs. For example, Western herb books often list Asian herbs such as gotukola, ginger, licorice, and tang-kuei; African herbs such as capsicum and devil's claw; South American herbs such as camomile and myrrh, and so on. Herbs in Western books are often recommended to be used according to their reputed general health benefits without necessarily targeting a complex health syndrome.

  • Why Granules?

    Numerous producers of dried extracts often provide powders. Granulation is an extra step. The main reason for this measure is to make it easier to consume the product by swallowing the loose material with a sip of water. Powders tend to cling to the mouth. While traditional formulas can be obtained in capsule or tablet form, some specially designed formulas are available only in loose form.

  • What About Making a Tea?

    A tea can be made from granules as easily as from powdered extracts. Though it may appear that powders dissolve in hot water, they are actually only suspended. If allowed to sit for a few minutes, the residue of the carrier (used for all powdered extracts) will be seen at the bottom of the cup. A tea is no more assimilable than the basic product which is a water-based extract sprayed onto a carrier. It immediately reconstitutes in the stomach as an herbal tea when water is consumed. If a tea is desired, adding boiling water to a cup containing the appropriate amount of granules, stir, and let sit for at least 10 minutes before consuming.

  • How Do They Compare with Decoctions?

    Granules are essentially equivalent to a decoction made from crude herbs.  The typical ratio of crude herb weight to granules is 4:1, meaning that a dosage of granules of 3 grams (a common recommendation in the West) is about the same as making a decoction from 12 grams of crude herb. In Japan, it is common for Kampo practitioners to recommend only 2.5 grams of granules, 3 times daily.  A price comparison between decocting crude herbs and using convenient granules shows that they are similar in overall cost. A practitioner who prescribes crude herbs will typically give out about a pound of herb materials for a one-week supply (seven days, 60 grams each day). This is an average practitioner cost ($3) for the materials when using an in-house pharmacy - less than half the cost for the equivalent of more than half the daily herb dosage.

  • Why do the Colors and Densities of Extracts Vary?

    Natural materials vary in their content of coloring matter from one batch to the next, so the color of the extracts may vary significantly. This usually has no influence on the medicinal qualities of the herbal extracts. Some herbs yield large amounts and other small amounts of solids in the extract. When combined with the carrier, this results in different densities. Thus, a bottle of oyster shell extract may be only one-third filled, while a bottle of cinnamon twig extract may be completely filled.

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