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Herbalism A tradition of Healing

Linda Diane Feldt Holistic health Practitioner

Outline of this presentation

Overview of CAM and alternative healing What is herbalism? Training and certification My practice and training Herbal preparations Parts of plants used Timing of harvest Potency/effectiveness Nourishing/medicinal What consumers get

Major Categories of Alternative Healing

Integrated healing systems Hands on techniques Biological substances Energy based healing Mind/body spirit awareness

Adapted from NIH categories

My Practice

Student of the healing arts since 1973 Full time private practice since 1981 (10-20 per week) Primarily use Herbs, Cranialsacral therapy, Polarity therapy, and massage. Sliding scale Diverse population Pain, injury, lifestyle, prevention, with or without conventional medicine Age range prenatal to 104 Also teach, write, volunteer

What makes a professional practice

Standards for practice Scope of practice Continuing education Code of ethics Association membership Able to refer, available for referrals

My training

Example of difficulty in determining qualified practitioners Apprenticeship model Is self study also legitimate? Inherited knowledge Formal recognition


Traditional Healers

Native American, Ayurvedic, Tibb, Unani, Tibetan, etc

Traditional Chinese Western Folkloric Western Scientific Earth-centered Ethno-botanical

example categories from the American Herbalist Guild

Herbalism Training and Education

College and University courses Electives within schools that teach wellness, holistic health, bodywork or somatic practices Apprenticeship programs both formal and informal Correspondence courses

Herbalism Training and Education (cont.)

Traditional initiation and training often combined with religious/spiritual practices Self taught Promotional material and workshops provided by manufacturers Multi level marketing materials Certification provided by herb manufacturers

Western Folkloric Tradition

promotes ethical harvesting of plants uses the whole parts of the plant, in season encourages consumer involvement emphasis is on nutritive aspects of herbs primarily uses plants that grow locally, and encourages direct involvement with the plants by growing and wildcrafting

Western Folkloric Tradition (cont.)

uses a holistic approach to support body systems & the individual encourages sharing of information, stories and experience with others can work in a supportive role with conventional Western Medicine

Concerns and Challenges

Herbalism is a very broad term that describes a profession many thousands of years old. Herbalists and the scientific community have only recently begun to forge mutual respect, goals, and to determine ways of working together. Herbalists must proactively respond to unprecedented consumer interest.

Concerns and Challenges

Protecting consumers, supporting scientific research, and preserving herbal traditions are intriguing challenges for this profession. Consumers and health care providers may have difficulty determining who is qualified as an herbalist. Herbal use is now being driven primarily by advertising and manufacturers, not by health care providers and traditional sources of information.

Nourishing herbs

Nutrient rich Bio-available Generally considered safe, side effects uncommon Dosage and strength less important Tend to be local, whole, and common Large amounts used, in contrast to medicinal plants Includes tonics Supportive to body systems Long term use is usually beneficial

Nourishing Herbs cont.

Internal use


Water based Vinegar based Cooked Raw (salad)

Whole plant

External use

Compress Poultice Salve

Medicinal Herbs

Dosage and strength important or critical Tend to utilize more toxic parts of plant Stimulate or sedate More likely to have side effects Are often plants that are less common, or rare Long term use is generally discouraged More extensive knowledge is needed to use safely and effectively

Issues around herbal preparations

Common Preparations

Capsules and pills Tinctures and extracts Infusions (AKA teas) Poultices and compresses Salves other

Effectiveness Herbs in combination and formulas Locally grown and wild crafted

The following slides describe general tendencies. There will always be exceptions. It is a good model to begin with, and then each herb must be evaluated individually. The knowledge of plant part, type of plant, and season is fundamental to the herbalist. It is also a basic understanding of plants that is rare, and becoming more so as plants are picked, powdered, processed and packaged for us.

Parts of the plant and their different qualities

Roots - storage, alkaloid rich, often toxic, often medicinal Leaves - nutrient rich Flowers - some nutrients, energetically powerful Seeds - nutrient dense, often toxic, toxins often medicinal

Type of plant and impact on herbal use


Root less likely to be used Leaves and flowers more valued Seeds are abundant, less likely to be toxic Harvested typically just before flowering, or just after

Type of plant and impact on herbal use


Roots often of value, rarely toxic Root used only in fall of first year, spring of second year Flowers appear second year, often used Seeds appear second year, likely of value End of second year only the seeds are left

Type of plant and impact on herbal use


Roots used after a couple of years Seeds often of value Roots more likely to be toxic or contain helpful alkaloids Not as much emphasis on leaves

The importance of the season

Energy moves through the plant with the season The root stores important constituents The herbalist determines the part of the plant desired, and harvests at the peak time

Flowers and seeds are obvious (harvest when present) Leaves before the plant makes flowers and seeds Roots in spring and fall when plant is storing constituents

Accessing what the plant has to offer

What is within and outside of the plant cell Breaking the cell wall Preserving unstable nutrients

affects of light, air, time, processing damage

Ingestion and topical application Absorption Elimination


Calendula - flowers Burdock - root or leaves Echinacea - root Garlic - root St. Johns Wort - flowering tops Poke - root or leaves Milk Thistle - seeds

Preparations to look for

Capsules containing herb extracts

Ground herbs often less effective

Labels provide lot number, experation dates Herbal extracts

Tinctures in alcohol Glycerine esp. from alcohol based extracts

Bulk herbs of good color, dated Dont overlook harvesting by the consumer

Reputable companies

Harvest ethically Employ herbalists and support professional associations Access to information on

where plants are harvested - avoid non US unless using TCM company philosophy - focus on herbs or marketing? control of product - dont just repackage or rebottle from suppliers

Multi-level marketing deserves special scrutiny

Examples of companies

HerbPharm Frontier Pacific Botanicals Trout Lake Botanicals Scientific Botanicals Phytopharmica Naturopathic Formulary

Thorne Research Eclectic Institute MediHerb Bezweken Women's Transition Wise Women Herbals And ??

Herbal certification
The bad Prone to consumer confusion Does not ensure potency Does not address processing or preparation Does not address safety of the herb Expense may prohibit good companies from using certification The good Helpful to ensure WYSIWYG Raising awareness of importance of herbal quality Important to ensure Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)are used Can address the real problem of contaminate

Next week
A four hour lab devoted to the hands-on experience of making herbal preparations including tinctures, salves, poultices, infusions, and more. Come prepared to be a bit messy and work with materials new to you as well as familiar. It may recall the early practice of pharmacy, and well have fun in the process. The results will include products you can take home and use.

Dogs harvesting herbs

Contact Information Linda Diane Feldt P.O. Box 3218 Ann Arbor MI 48106-3218 734-662-4902 Free Herb Class usually 4th Thursday of each month, sponsored by the Peoples Food Co-op, at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, Ann Arbor