In general, herbs taken in decoction form have the strongest effect. In this method, the dried herb material is cooked for a period of time, usually about one hour, then strained and drunk as a tea. The disadvantage with this form of administration is the time it takes to cook and prepare the tea, and the relatively strong smell and taste.
Herbs in concentrated granules are slightly less potent than decoctions when taken at the standard recommended dosage. However their convenience often outweighs this disadvantage. There is no need for cooking as they easily dissolve in fluid, and are therefore time saving and relatively easy to take at home or away. Granules, like decoctions, can be prescribed in individualized formulas that are custom tailored for each person’s specific constitution and health concerns.
Both decoctions and concentrated granules are more potent than herbs in pill form, when taken at the usual recommended dosage. Pills are suitable for conditions where slow, steady herbal support is appropriate, or in acute situations where a high dose may be needed for a short period of time. This form is ideal to take when traveling and for those who are very sensitive to the taste of herbs, or for other reasons find it difficult to take liquid preparations. Herbs in pill form are pre-made, standardized formulations, therefore can be difficult to customize. In order to achieve the targeted response, taking a combination of two or three different formulas in pill form is sometimes necessary.