Bill asks,

Is there a systematic way of working through them all and seeing what works other than trial & error with regards to herb, dosage, frequency, etc.?”

First you need to recognize what kind of herb you’re dealing with and what you’re aiming for with it. Some are more feelable than others. If you can notice the difference off of a single dose, then your feedback loop of trial and success/error is much shortened.

If you have to take something for a month to vet whether it is working for you, it’s going to take much longer.

Blue Vervain has an instant stress relieving effect, for about 50% of people that take it. Compare to Ashwagandha which tends to take some time to build up in the system for noticeable stress relieve. However, a smaller percentage of people 5-10% find that Ashwagandha has some strong sedative qualities for them.

Tongkat Ali gives some strong hormonal and sexual action that some people will notice quickly. On the other hand, Nettle Root is working far more in the background. Except the latter can be really helpful with frequent urination, so it may be more noticeable there within days or weeks.

Bacopa has a strong focusing effect that some can feel right away. The research says the best results come from taking it consistently for months though. Compare this to Lion’s Mane. I personally don’t notice the effects of this one right away, but some others do. For this, I notice it more when I stop taking it.

So you see even this is a generality. Some people might get the “morning wood effect” of Pine Pollen the first time they take it. Others need it to build up in their system and will notice this only after a month of use.

I listed out even more of the feelable effects of our herbs, breaking them into top herbs for instant effects, mid-range, and lowest feelable effects in this article

And in an article titled How Long Does It Take For Herbs To Work? I broke it down into five categories of length of time.

This provides much more background.

Next we’ve got to cover dose.

In general, a larger dose is a good way to try to get more feelable effects quicker. Triple the dose and see what happens.

However, dosing does not always work in a linear manner. Sometimes there is a bell shaped dose response.

Bell Shape Dose Response

I remember in some of my herbal training, when we were tasting a bunch of sedative and hypnotic herbs. While I felt quite “stoned” after this class a few people reported trouble sleeping. It was too much, which then caused the opposite effect.

This is partly the basis of homeopathy…but we won’t get into the details of basically non-existent doses, as that’s a whole other subject.

As for frequency, that one can be kept pretty simple. Usually just once or twice a day is sufficient, but you certainly can do more if desired.

Okay, I’ve thrown too much information at you now. Let me try to boil it down to a systematic asking of questions.

  1. What effect or change are you going for? If going for multiple, rank order them and look for the priority which is likely to impact you the most.

  2. Which herbs (or other supplements) could be used for this? Make a list and then rank order them for which order they should be experimented with?

  3. Is this an effect that I expect to feel immediately? Or over how long of a span of time? What is the time frame I’m going to use for this experiment?

  4. What size dose is likely to deliver the effect best? Should I ratchet up the dose over time to find what works best?

  5. What frequency is likely to deliver the effect best? Should I ratchet up the frequency over time to find what works best?

The most scientific way of doing this is to work with a single herb or formula at a time. But you can do more, it just further complicates things.

More details on how to setup an experiment with herbs for yourself in this post

This is how I would approach systematically working through different herbs. It’s not an airtight system, but should help you to cycle through the feedback a bit faster. And with this area, I think that is the best you can hope for.

Logan Christopher
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