Counseling Sheet

Methods of Herbal Preparation and Proper Dosage of Tinctures

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine


An infusion is a water extraction method where lighter herbs like blossoms, leaves, powders, and light herb materials are soaked or infused in boiling water. To prepare: for strong potent or intense herbs, use 1 teaspoonful of herbs to 1 cup of boiling water. Let stand for 20-30 minutes. Strain and use as needed.

For a therapeutic dose of regular, non-potent, non-intense herbs, use 30 grams (1 ounce), or 2 tablespoons, in 1 pint of boiling water. The apothecary scale is 12 ounces to the pound.


A water extraction method where harder materials like seeds, barks, roots, etc. are simmered in water to extract their properties. The same measurements apply as for an infusion. Simmer 20-30 minutes, strain, and use.

Infusion Decoction Mixture

Often a formula has a mixture of light herb materials that need to be infused and harder materials that require a decoction. In this case, make your decoction first with all the hard herb materials in your formula, simmer for 30 minutes, remove from the heat and add the lighter herbs for the infusion in the same water. Let stand 20-30 minutes, strain, and use. Can be kept 24 hours refrigerated.

Making a Formula

When making an herb formula several herbs may be required. This, of course, will require a much more potent dose of herb material. This generally is not a problem unless intense and potent herbs are used. For example, never use more than one tablespoon of black cohosh, generally speaking, in a formula. (Check herbal manuals carefully for dosage.) Also, when making a formula, more water is usually required.


Arthritis formula (general):

1.5 quarts purified water
1 tablespoon black cohosh root
1 tablespoon wild yam root
2 tablespoons burdock root
3 tablespoons echinacea root
2 tablespoon sarsparilla root

Simmer 30 minutes, covered, on medium heat.

Because several herbs are used here, use 1-1.5 quarts purified water for the mixture.

For preparation of infusions and decoctions, always use stainless steel, glassware, or enamel vessels. Use stainless strainers for straining.

Goldenseal, Echinacea Tincture:
(For acute ailments)
Example: infection

Adults: Use 1 teaspoonful every hour until symptoms are controlled, then drop down to 1 teaspoonful every 2 hours. When symptoms are gone, use one teaspoonful every 4 hours for 2-3 days.

Children's dosage: Search on the Internet for the Young's Rule calculation.


Goldenseal should be avoided in pregnancy if any cramping or discomfort arises. However, when it is used for acute conditions, this complication is rare.

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