Drop Dosing Vs. Large Dosing

Licorice is likely one of the most commonly used herbs across the world because it has such a wide range of effects and ways it can be used.

Despite its popularity, there are contraindications that are often overlooked. This herb can increase blood pressure in both healthy and vulnerable populations. However, by understanding its effects on the cardiovascular system and how to use it safely, you can use this herb confidently in your herbal practice. 

In today’s blog post, you’ll learn about:

  • The medicinal benefits of Licorice in a formula or by itself
  • The side effects and contraindications of Licorice
  • The difference between standard and deglycyrrhizinated Licorice
  • How to safely dose with this herb
  • Traditional methods for using Licorice

Table of Contents

What Is Drop Dosing?

I get a lot of questions about the difference in dosage of herbal medicine. I specifically got a question recently around what drop dosing is and what the differences are in what happens when you take an herbal medicine in one to three drop doses versus, say, a five-milliliter dose. A couple of different schools of thought and approaches to practicing herbalism show up here. So let’s look at some of the benefits and some of the downsides of both approaches and why neither one is necessarily wrong, better, or worse, just different in their approach.

Drop dosage is a term used to indicate very low doses of medicinal plants, specifically in tincture form. Usually when someone says “drop dosage,” they’re talking about tinctures, though sometimes they’ll be talking about flower essences. With drop doses, usually we’re talking about one to three drops as a dose compared to a moderately sized dose of 15 to 30 drops, and higher doses of between two to five milliliters. In a standard tincture bottle, when you squeeze the eyedropper and suck up as much tincture as you can get, usually that squirt amount is about 30 drops, or a mil. A high dose is usually two squirts up to five squirts, or five mils per dose. 

Drop dosages is an example of different approaches to practicing herbalism. You’ve got the low-dose school, the high dose school, people in between, and people who do both. I tend to do both. It really depends on the plant, on the person, on the condition—it really depends on a lot of factors. There are times when I’ll give people a remedy and have them take it in drop doses. There are times that I work with people and I have them take two to three mils per dose. It also depends on preparation. If I’m giving someone a spagyric essence, they’re only drop dosing that because they’re so powerful—that’s all you need to take. 

Some of the Difference in the Effects

Often the way it’s described is that a drop dose is working with the vital force. So you’re working with the vital force of the plant, interacting with the vital force of the person. It’s the vital force of the person responding and shifting and changing due to the presence of the vital force of the plant, and it’s more gentle. Many people in the drop-dose school prefer it over high dose because they say that you’re not forcing the body to do something, that you’re not imposing the will of the herb onto the body. It’s more of a gentle nudge. It’s like the plant is gently informing the body, “Hey, shift in this direction.” 

Whereas in a high-dose perspective, you are giving larger amounts of the plant that are leading to a biochemical interaction with the body where you’re getting biologically active constituents from the plants binding to receptors in the body, leading to changes in physiological cascades. So it’s like the plant acting on the body rather than the body gently responding and shifting to the presence of the plant. It can be a subtle distinction. 

A lot of people in the low-dose school see higher dosages as being very forceful, too aggressive, and maybe it’s not acting in accordance with the vital force. High-dose people basically think that with drop doses, you’re not getting enough of the bioactive constituents in the plants to actually have a medicinal effect. You need this amount in order to have that medicinal effect. So the two can kind of butt heads a little bit. 

Dosing Based on the Person and Remedy

Certainly there can be disagreements amongst herbalists here. But for me, people have been drop dosing for a really long time, and people have been high dosing for a really long time. And guess what? Both get healing results. That’s what matters, right? What matters is that people are getting healed. So whether you choose to drop dose or whether you choose to high dose is a personal preference. It really depends on your philosophy and your approach to herbal medicine. It also depends on condition, constitution, person, herb, preparation. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much of a remedy someone will get. 

It also has to do with working with the person. Sometimes you’ll give someone a remedy in 15 to 30 drops, and they say it was super powerful. So then we have to tone it down. Or say, for example, you’re giving someone a remedy for sleep. They say they took 10 drops of the formula and it knocked them out and they woke up groggy in the morning. So maybe they need to try three drops. And they take three drops and it’s perfect. They slept well, woke up well-rested, alert, awake, aware, and not groggy. So drop dosing works for them. On the other hand, a different person with the same condition of lack of sleep may take three drops of the same formula but it doesn’t do anything. Thirty drops doesn’t do anything. But when they take two mils, they sleep like a baby. So working with the person and what their needs are is an important factor to keep in mind as well. 

I always try to be in the middle on things. I try not to take sides, maybe because I’m a conflict-avoidant person. With drop dosing, people have been doing both for a really long time and both get healing results, so it’s not necessarily that one’s right and one’s wrong, or one’s better and one’s worse. It’s just a difference in approach. It’s different pathways that are leading to the same top of the mountain, so to speak. 

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