A brief guide to dosing strategies for medicinal herbs

The traditional Eclectic texts (Felter and Lloyd, 1898) typically recommend doses between 1-60 drops (where 60 drops is approximately 2ml). Lower dosage for chronic illness is my primary method (e.g. 5-20 drops per herb). Then I will often use, for example, 5 herbs compounded together each with 10 drops worth per herb, so 50 drops total twice per day. Small frequent doses (e.g. 3 times per day or 4) tend to be a lot stronger, but that isn’t always desirable or a good thing. There are various schools of thought for dosing medicinal herbs that are described below:


Lower (ethereal) doses

The Matthew Wood school of dosing which is along the lines of John Scudder, an Eclectic physician (Scudder, 1870), uses small doses, 1-5 drops, between 1-3 times daily (Wood, 2004). Jim McDonald uses doses a little higher, between 5-15 drops, 3 or up to 5 times daily. Where more regular doses are used to give a stronger therapeutic effect.

I am not a fan of homeopathy because of the aggravation potentially causing serious problems. What I describe here with these lower doses does not appear to involve aggravations so it is not homeopathy.

Higher (material) doses

There is the British Phytological School (Hoffman, 1988), where doses usually range from 1-5ml, three times daily. This means 2 full droppers (25 drops each, 50 drops total) is approximately the starting dose, a little more than. If using a formula the overall dose will generally also be between 1-5ml.

Some herbs, like blue vervain or lobelia, only require very small doses so it does vary.

Dried capsule extracts

I often start with the directions on the packaging, but also get information from papers and text books.

Conversion Volumes

I made these myself using an A. Vogel bottle or a dropper and a measuring cylinder. A dropper can be 20 or 25 drops, both end up around 0.70-75ml. Herb Pharm bottles say on the back 0.7ml per dropper.

1 dropper = 20-25 drops = approx 0.75ml
2 droppers = 40 drops = 1.5ml
4 droppers = 80 drops = 3ml
6 droppers = 120 drops = 4.5ml (which is about 1tsp) (generally approx max dose)

A drop and a dropper can be variable, many people are saying 20 drops is 1ml, this is approximately true as you can see above.


Felter, Harvey and Lloyd, John. King’s American Dispensatory, 1898.

Hoffman, David. Holistic herbal. Element Books, 1988.

Scudder, John. Specific Medication and Specific Medicines, 1870

Wood, Matthew. The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification. North Atlantic Books, 2004.