Let the exams begin! We finished up this week with the
first of the many exams, quizzes, midterms and lab practicals that
6th Trimester is known for providing (if that is
the proper term). The first quiz was centered on the endocrine
system, its involved structures and their interaction. What a doozy
to kick off the trimester!
The classes aren't all work and no fun however! In our 'Special
Topics in Botanical Medicine' class this week, we had the
opportunity to make tinctures for the first time! A little about
tinctures first. Tinctures can be made from the fresh or dried
medicinal parts of plants. These parts could be the leaf, flower,
stem or root of a plant, or all of the above, depending on the
plant. Next, these medicinal parts are 'soaked' in a solution of
alcohol, glycerine or vinegar, depending on the type of plant and
the 'plant constituent' or chemical part of the plant that we want
to use in the tincture.
The tinctures are made in ratios such as 1:2 or 1:4 or higher.
The first number is the amount of plant material, typically in
grams. The second number is the amount of 'vehicle' or alcohol,
glycerine or vinegar in milliliters. So, if you have 10 grams
of plant material being soaked in 20 milliliters of alcohol, you
would have a 1:2 ratio tincture! The units of measure don't really
matter as long as you stay consistent with your ratios if you make
a tincture and like the outcome. Simple really!
Some of the tinctures our class made this past week.
I made a Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) tincture in a 1:18
ratio as a fragrance for a future cleaning solution. I also made a
Bilberry Leaf (Vaccinium myrtillus) tincture in a 1:4 ratio as an
experiment for future tinctures. Bilberry Leaf is reported to have
anti-aging properties through improved circulation in the small
blood vessels near the hands, feet and farthest reaches of the
circulatory system from the heart. With an aging patient
population, research continuing and the possibility of a potent
herbal medication, Bilberry shows some promise!
Herbal medicine is just one of the strong tools at the
naturopathic physician's disposal. The chemical constituents in
many pharmaceutical medications are either the exact phytochemical
or a derived component of many botanicals (or plant medicines). The
great thing we are learning about the botanical medicines is that
while the patient gets the benefit of the botanical medication
(albeit at a much lower concentration than a corresponding
pharmaceutical medication), the botanical medication typically has
other components that reduce or eliminate any side effects of
taking the botanical medication. While not true all the time, this
is typically the case with botanical medications. As with any
medication, any physician needs to take the precaution of
understanding how the botanical medicine interacts with any other
medications the patient may be taking, whether botanical or
This week, I am grateful for botanical medications that Nature
has provided for us. I personally have utilized a botanical
remedy a number of times in various circumstances from a poultice
for a pretty big scrape to helping ward off a nasty ear
infection. Thanks to those who have come before us and paved
the way learning, gaining knowledge and sharing over countless
generations for all that Nature provides for our health.