What's my dose? Part 3

In last week’s article we discussed how the desired effect of a medication or supplement can dictate how it is dosed. We used the example of hormone replacement therapy to illustrate how certain dosages are for replacement while other dosages may be for replenishment. In this week’s article, we will discuss how botanical remedies are dosed.

Many people think that botanical remedies are natural and thus don’t have potential to do harm or have side effects. Many people also think that they are taking the right dose of a botanical remedy because of what the label suggests. I run into these myths almost every day in practice. The reason these are important to talk about is because you may be taking the right remedy for your needs but not taking the right dose.

Botanical remedies can be tricky to identify the right dose because of how they are labeled. When a patient asks how many milligrams of a medication, vitamin, mineral, or amino acid they should take the answer is usually straight forward. “Your dose to start is 25mg and we can adjust from there based on your reaction.” However, with botanical remedies the number of milligrams is only one factor. The more important factor is how potent is the extract.

The active ingredients in a botanical remedy must be extracted from the plant. When they are extracted they are combined with inactive ingredients. The ratio of the active ingredient to the inactive ingredient determines the potency. When you look at the details on the label of an herbal product you should see a ratio. If you don’t, you should question the product. If the ratio is 1:1 it means that for every unit of active nutrient there is the same amount of inactive nutrients. If the ratio is 5:1 it means that for every 5 units of active nutrient there is only one unit of inactive nutrients. As you can see, a 5:1 ratio is 5 times more potent that a 1:1 ratio.

If you are comparing two botanical remedies for a nutrient like milk thistle and they appear to have the same amount of milligrams contained within, you may be surprised to see that one actually has 5 times more of the active nutrient. This basic but profound difference can dictate how effective or how safe a botanical remedy is for the patient.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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