Eclectic Dosing, Where Less is More
Eclectic herbalism is based on the premise that each person has within them the innate ability for health and recovery. The herbs in and of themselves cannot cure, but instead stimulate the body to restore function and order, leading to recovery and health.
Eclectic herbalism uses herbs in very low to extremely dilute doses. For example, the eclectic herbal practitioner might be using only several drops of an herbal tincture in 4 ounces of water, then having the patient take only a tablespoon of that several times a day. This differs from standard herbalism which uses high doses of herbs which, to a degree, take over the function of the body. From a consumer standpoint, this is certainly a much more economical option. From a sustainability standpoint, this uses fewer resources (herbs, water, alcohol, etc…) in order to produce the medicines. The eclectic herbal practitioner takes into account not only the person, but various patterns in the patient, as well as how the symptoms present distinctly and individualistically. A skin rash is not seen as just a rash, but prompts the practitioner to ask: what does it look like? how does it feel? where is it? when did it start? and more, in order to come up with the correct formula to treat.
The “founding” of the eclectic herbalism tradition goes back to the early 1800’s, as doctors and herbalists were finding it difficult to reform conventional medicine at the time, with its use of blood lettings and poisons as medicine. The eclectics were seen as the outcasts and the conventional doctors started to name themselves “Regular”.
This form of eclectic herbal usage first came into Naturopathic Medicine in the early 1900’s. Although a Naturopath could practice using eclectic herbalism as a sole form of treatment, many Naturopaths will use it as part of the potential tools at their disposal. Today, both eclectic and “pharmacologic” herbalism are used by ND’s. Eclectic herbalism today has similarities to modern homeopathy. Although the various substances within an herb are important, it is often the energetics of the herb that help to inform prescribing. Many modern pharmaceuticals were originally made from plants or isolated plant constituents, but were used in higher, pharmacologic doses.