When it comes to natural remedies, herbs are my passion. There’s something about going to nature for healing that makes me feel truly connected to the earth. I love using herbal tinctures for a variety of ailments, and one thing I’m often asked is, how to dose herbs for kids?
This is a great question because plants can be very powerful. So once you’ve verified (from a reputable source like a herbalist if the herb is kid safe, you’ll indeed need to know how to adjust an adult dose for a child.
There are three general ways to dose for kids, but the one I find most reliable and safe is known as Clark’s Rule.
Divide the weight in pounds by 150. This will give you a fraction of the adult’s dose. For example, a 37-pound child (37 divided by 150) will come out to .25 (technically .246). So your tincture dose for this child would be one-quarter (or 25%) of an adult dose.
To calculate that actual dose from the percent just take the adult dose and multiply it by the fraction. For example, if an adult dose was 50 drops just multiply 50 X .25 which equals 12.5. Your child’s dose is now 12.5 drops (you can round up or down based on the situation). You can also use this to dose dry herbs and teas as well.
Calculate the Range
Keep in mind most herbs, and especially tinctures, are usually given dosing ranges based on symptoms and severity. For example, an adult dose might range from 50-75 drops depending on severity.
So calculate the entire range for your child first so you can see the lower and upper limit.
Personally I start at the lowest dose for any new herb just to make sure a child doesn’t react negatively.
Once I’ve verified that the remedy creates no negative reaction I go ahead and dose at the recommended dose based on the the severity of the condition as well as a few other factors listed below.
Consider the big picture including age, weight, and metabolism
A few other factors are critical in determining how to dose your child.
First consider is the age AND weight of the child.
I know a petite but perfectly healthy four-year-old who’s 30 pounds. I’ve also met a 30-pound one-year-old boy. Big difference!
So again focus on the entire picture, understand your herb, know its safety profile, get to know it’s potential side-effects, and make sure that the dose is not only weight appropriate, but also age appropriate.
Note the strength of your formula
One more thing to remember is that herbal tinctures are diluted in strength and this is reflected in a ratio that should be listed on every bottle.
For example, an herbal tincture might be recommended at 60 drops for an infection at a 1:5 ratio. The first number represents the plant material and the second represents the solvent used in extraction (often alcohol).
This means that for every 5 ml of tincture there is 1 gram (1000mg) of the herb. But if you’ve acquired a tincture that uses a 1:1 ration (better described as an extract) you need to adjust down accordingly. This can get tricky and is why you should be working with a herbalist or great resource.
Finally if you are dealing with a condition (as opposed to general supplementation) I recommend you dose several days beyond when symptoms abate. Viruses and especially bacteria are VERY opportunistic, and you want to make sure the pathogen has been defeated before stopping.
Safety comes with knowledge
Before you start playing with herbs you need to verify your herb (or essential oil) is child-safe and establish that it has a very good safety rating.
Second you need to verify your herb’s use and appropriateness in the situation. A mild condition need not be treated with the most aggressive solution. Likewise a serious or painful condition shouldn’t be played around with a mildly effective herb.
Finally know your herbs contraindications, potential side-effects, and full safety profile.
That said herbs can be amazing solutions for common childhood problems and can also be more effective than traditional pharmaceuticals.
There are plenty of resources and courses that you can check and take. I’ve included many books on herbalism and essential oils in the Filtered Living Shop.
You can (and should) cross-reference PubMed for any available studies using your herbs (remember to use the scientific name of your plant, not the common name). I also like the Green Med Info database for research.
I also recommend you check with a qualified herbalist or naturopath before giving any child medicinal amounts of herbs.
If you are looking for more herbal resources read my post, 5 Life Changing Books About Herbal Medicine
I hope that helps!
Until next time happy families!
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician or M.D. about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities. All opinions are my own and do not constitute medical advice. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.