Dear Stephen,
On page 77 of Healing Lyme, you say: “…in my opinion, the best outcomes will occur with the use of encapsulated or tablet-form whole herbs rather than tinctures. I do have a bias toward whole herbs for most conditions. In any event, Andrographis should not be used as a tincture—it is much too bitter. If you do use tinctures, the dosage range should EQUAL that for the whole or standardized herbs outlined below.” Part of my concern with tinctures is how to translate the dosage. What does “equal” mean? In general, your doses for herbs are far higher than the normal dose ranges on the whole herb bottles, so I figure they must be higher for tinctures too—right? Is there some general formula or guideline we can use to convert your whole herb doses to tincture drops? For example, Eclectic Institute tinctures of Smilax and Red Root, both are 1:4 dry herb strength in 45% alcohol. Recommended dose on the bottle is only 15-30 drops 1-3 x day. What do you recommend for your protocol? I asked an herbalist, who replied “for tinctures, the drop dose can differ depending on the dropper SIZE, VISCOSITY of the liquid, as well as what system you are using, which herbalist you follow and the manufacturer making the product, how it is formulated, what ratios used, etc.” It appears to me that I would have to take a LOT of drops to “equal” the whole herb and then tinctures become way more expensive than the whole herb. Is this true? Any clarity is greatly appreciated.

Stephen’s response:
For the example you gave of Smilax and Red Root tinctures, I would use Smilax in that dose. For Red Root I prefer tinctures and that is the dosage range I prefer as well.

I hate this kind of response that the herbalist gave you; they always say that and did when I asked the questions 20 years ago. Useless information and noone pays attention to viscosity, dropper size, etc. anyway. Still, because I focused on tablets, I never did do any kind of tincture conversion. Conversions can be done but they take time and as I am on sabbatical for the next year, I am refraining for now and besides, as I mentioned in previous responses and in my book, for the Core Protocol I like the whole herbs better.

So what I can give you would be a guesstimate based on larger dose ranges with other herbs I have used.

I would begin with 1 tsp 3x daily and increase that to 4x daily. If you take these on an empty stomach, with or without water, they will go into the system pretty quickly and so I would suggest monitoring your responses carefully to see how you respond. If taken without water they will go into the blood stream without any passage through the stomach. Also, less of the buffering agents present in the whole herb will be present so I would expect the Andrographis to be stronger in its impacts.

Tinctures will almost always be more expensive than the whole herb. This is especially true in long term complex chronic conditions and onset acute conditions.

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