HRB 605 Materia Medica

This course investigates approximately 30 of the most commonly used herbal medicines and related supplements in the United States. Each herb will be discussed from the ethnobotanical perspective as well as the modern phyto-therapeutic perspective, with a focus on pharmacological understanding and relevant clinical trials. Special emphasis will be placed on topics relevant to the contemporary clinician, including quality control, interactions, and other safety parameters of each herb covered. This course provides the student with the necessary skills to effectively research herbs not covered in the class.

This class quickly takes a deep dive into the very detailed world of each herb covered.  Over the duration of the course, we worked on a project where we had fictional patients that we had to treat.  The task was to develop treatment plans that addresses their holistic needs, accounted for potential contraindications, were based on quality research, and accounted for lifestyle preferences. We had to create the herbal products we were recommending in the protocol for each client.

As the course progressed and our understanding of the therapeutic actions of the herbs deepened, we reflected on our initial protocols and discussed lessons learned. This paper is an example of this work throughout the course. For those interested, the full paper is linked below.

Research Paper Part C

Herbal Treatment Protocols

Here are the product protocols that I developed for these clients. As a reminder, I am not a clinical herbalist. I am a product designer and do not see clients for healthcare purposes so this assignment was challenging since it did require some liberties with legal authorities as an herbalist.

Fake client 1, “Mr. Drake”:

Breakfast Infusion,
passiflora incarnata 8 oz
1 capsule: 1000 mg arctostaphylos uva ursi  1 capsule: 1,000 mg of vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree)
Lunch Infusion,
passiflora incarnata 8 oz
1 capsule:
1000 mg
arctostaphylos uva ursi 
1 capsule: 1,000 mg of vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree)
Dinner Infusion,
passiflora incarnata 8 oz
1 capsule:
1000 mg
arctostaphylos uva ursi 
1 capsule: 1,000 mg of vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree)
Before Bed

1 capsule:
valeriana officinalis 500 mg

Fake client 2, “Julia”:

BreakfastInfusion
passiflora incarnata and matricaria recutita (1 tbsp each per cup of water)
3 ml tincture of reishi powder 1 capsule of: 1000 mg vitex agnus-castus chaste tree,, 500 mg dong quai/ angelica sinensis
Lunch Infusion
passiflora incarnata and matricaria recutita (1 tbsp each per cup of water)  
3 ml tincture of reishi powder 1 capsule of: 1000 mg vitex agnus-castus chaste tree, 500 mg dong quai/ angelica sinensis 
DinnerInfusion
passiflora incarnata and matricaria recutita (1 tbsp each per cup of water)  
3 ml tincture of reishi powder 1 capsule of: 1000 mg vitex agnus-castus chaste tree,, 500 mg dong quai/ angelica sinensis 
Before Bed 1 capsule: valeriana officinalis 500 mg

Rationale for the protocols:

Infusions: Infusions are a timeless method of administering nourishing and medicinal herbs. Cultures have done this for millenia. Water is inexpensive, easy to come by, and extracts a broad range of constituents from the plants.

Many people enjoy drinking herbal teas. Milder herbs are great candidates for this. The more pungent or bitter an herb, it becomes unlikely that the client would be compliant with the treatment protocol. While tea rituals can be soothing and relaxing, I do not like prescribing teas or other liquids immediately before bedtime.

Tinctures: Tinctures are a fast and efficient way to ingest herbal material. They are also a great way to preserve herbs. I used to avoid them as much as possible because I strongly dislike the taste of the alcohol. I have since learned to turn them into electuaries and other more palatable products. This course was much earlier in my program so there are some comments about this in the final paper, which is why I address it here.

I would have preferred to use a double decoction process to extract the medicinal constituents from the reishi mushroom, however many clients will not have the time or desire to make decoctions on a daily basis. They would be forced to purchase the products from an herbalist. When using high or prolonged doses, this can become quite expensive.   I have also used Reishi powder in herbal balls (peanut butter, chocolate, etc), however I learned that the nutrients are not absorbed properly unless they are extracted from the powder, making that method of administration basically useless.  For this reason only, I went with the tincture.

Capsules: I often use encapsulated herbal powders in cases where the herb is unpleasant to taste.  While I believe that it is important to experience all of the tastes, including bitter, not all clients will do this. This is one of the areas where I feel I may have more experience than some of my peers.  I had previous training in Herbal Retail Management and Natural Products Manufacturing with a different institution (American College of Healthcare Sciences) so I have experience making capsules for myself and others.  My training was tailored to followed GMP guidelines and approach treatments in a scientific fashion.

Here are some photos to illustrate my process for creating the capsules. The first step is always the herbal formulation.  After it is all measured I grind into a powder. A professional operation such as an apothecary or dispensary will usually have very powderful and expensive machines that pulverize herbs into fine powders. Even a VitaMix is no match for these tiny bits so you will see some grainy pieces in the product.

This is my capsule machine. (“The Capsule Machine”).  The  capsules are “00” sized, meaning they are designed to hold approximately 1140 mg of herbal material. For a 1500 mg supplement, a “000” capsule is needed.
This is how I scrape the powdered herbal material into the empty capsules. 

These are the pressed and sealed capsules.

Assignment reflections:

This assignment was far more detailed than I originally thought.  The research on the herbs was not just focused on summarizing research or writing a new monograph, it was tailored to a specific case. This added a layer of complexity to the analysis since much of the research was contradictory or did not meet stringent standards for research reliability. In many cases it was my interpretation of the traditional knowledge and wisdom that informed my decisions.

After examining researching and reviewing my herbal selections, I believe that the selections could have helped support wellness for each client. I would have liked to have incorporated an essential oil protocol for “Julia” but it was outside the scope of the paper. I am not certain that my selections for Mr. Drake could have helped with his impotence, however I do believe his anxiety and sleep issues could be improved.  I suppose this assignment is much like real world practice; constantly evolving.

`

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s