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Getting The Dose Right

Saturday, June 09, 2018
“I tried those natural remedies and they didn’t work”. I wish I hadn’t heard this statement as much as I have over the years. Especially when as the conversation progresses it emerges that the disgruntled one wasn’t taking a therapeutic dose, making their self-exploration of natural therapies futile.

The ‘therapeutic dose’ is technical speak for taking enough of a herb or nutrient to actually make a difference. The dose at which treatment becomes effective has often been discerned through a combination of laboratory research and clinical experience.

Fish oils are a great example of challenges with dosing that most people don’t know about. Depending on whether you purchased a high strength or low strength product, each capsule will contain a certain proportion of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the fatty acids that do the work. The rest of the capsule is made up of just plain oil.  A high strength fish oil will contain about 600mg of EPA and DHA in every 1000mg capsule. A low strength fish oil about half that. 

The amount of EPA and DHA required to ease a chronic health condition like arthritis varies widely, but from my experience a therapeutic dose means at least 1800mg of EPA/DHA per day. That’s three high strength capsules. So if you tried one low strength fish oil capsule per day for your arthritis and wondered why it didn’t work, this could be why. Mental health or acute rheumatoid arthritis treatment may need up to 5000mg EPA/DHA per day. 

Your practitioner goes through a similar process as we just did with other natural remedies like herbs, vitamins and minerals: Assessing the therapeutic dose required then measuring this against the intensity of the presenting condition.
The dose point is different for everyone: some folk are more sensitive and only need a tiny dose or do best on the energetic remedies instead. Others need the robust herbs and high dose nutrients to make a difference.

You can get an measure of what dose of nutrients you need from organic acids testing, a relatively new functional test that examines what’s left over in your urine from biochemical reactions. From this a calculation is done of how much you need of each nutrient. This is particularly handy when you’re treating a chronic problem that needs ongoing management.

So don’t give up on natural therapies just because your self-prescribing didn’t work. Maybe talk with an accredited naturopathic practitioner next time.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy "Getting The Right Dose of Fish Oil" 

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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