Let's begin by breaking down what a tonic herb is and why they differ to other herbs within the realm of herbal medicine as a whole..
What is a tonic herb?
Tonic herbs were first mentioned in Emperor Shen Nong's Classic of Herbal Medicine, the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, around 2,000 years ago. This text (also known as the Divine Farmer's Materia Medica) was a culmination of thousands of years of traditional herbal wisdom from the many healers in ancient China. It may or may not have been written by a man with a see-through belly. The lore is fascinating! Many well-known herbs feature in Shen Nong's text, and he classifies herbs according to three distinct categories:
Superior herbs (also known as imperial herbs) - these are the herbs that can be consumed daily with benefits accumulating over time. They were used daily by the wisest and wealthiest people, including the Emperors. These are the ones we love to work with. We call them tonic herbs. Or Daoist tonic herbs, if we're being specific, though some Ayurvedic and Western herbs are also tonic.
Regular herbs - these are the herbs that can treat the ailing. These herbs should not be used for an extended period as there is a potential for long-term negative side effects.
Inferior herbs - these herbs are primarily considered to be toxic. Inferior herbs should only be used for a short period to get a powerful and fast result when treating a serious illness acutely.
Tonic herbs are not a trend. Their medicinal use is grounded in thousands of years of empirical evidence. As the safety and efficacy of tonic herbs are beginning to be acknowledged by modern science, we are simply confirming the effects ancient herbalists monitored over thousands of years of practice.
By definition, a tonic herb:
- must not cause harm or place additional stress on the body
- must promote healing within the body via a non-specific action
- must be adaptive in nature, assisting the body to overcome any physical, psychological or environmental stressors.
Everyone is different, so expect to have your own unique experience with the herbs and how you respond to them, but the journey of finding that "sweet spot" is really where the magic happens!
How much should I take?
Generally, we recommend taking the herbs daily in small doses, to begin with. This allows you to develop an understanding and acknowledgment of how the herbs are unfolding their medicinal magic for you. Follow the dosage instructions on the package, or start with 1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon per day, adjusting the dose if you feel it necessary within your unique body system.
Doses can be taken as high as two teaspoons per day, however, most people find their sweet spot with 1/2 to one teaspoon per product, per day. We call this sweet spot your "lifestyle dose".
We don't recommend taking more than two tablespoons of herbs a day. These extracts are potent, and you want to take care not to overload the body with too much of a good thing.
Keep in mind, dosage is very personal. Some people require larger doses - larger bodies, stronger constitutions - while others need smaller doses - smaller bodies, more sensitive constitutions. Your body will let you know if you need more or less as you experiment, and we encourage you to trust your body’s innate wisdom and intuition.
The flavour profile of the herb/blend will also influence your dosage range and often dictate how high you can take your dose. Listen to this guide as it is very useful in finding what is appropriate for you.
A dose taken in the morning before a meal is usually well-received, however, you can take the herbs at any time that suits your daily flow and lifestyle. A warm JING is a wonderful way to welcome in your day, while Reishi is a beautiful nighttime tonic, assisting a restful night's sleep.
Building your dose up over a couple of weeks is a really lovely practice and allows the space for awareness and understanding to develop in regards to how your body, mind, and spirit are receiving the herbs.
If you would like to learn a little more about how to use these beautiful tonic herbs, click here to listen to our SuperFeast 101 podcast. Mason answers all our commonly asked questions. An insightful and informative listen.
If you are trying to convert an mg dose to teaspoons, we usually find that 500mg is equal to about 1/10th of a teaspoon, and 2500 mg equals about 1/2 tsp.
If you're still unsure, then don't worry we got you!
We have a wonderful Customer Service team that would love to have a chat with you about this and make it super clear. Head to our 'Contact Us' page on our website to reach out.