The autumn finally settled in here in Illinois this past week
with crisp mornings and warm days. The trees have shifted in color
just a bit on their topmost branches and I expect that we will see
the full blossoming of autumn in the next two or three weeks.
This week I'll talk a bit about botanical medicine and our
skillset that is developed both in our botanical medicine courses
as well as in clinical practice. Botanicals are powerful tools in
the naturopathic doctor's toolbox; proper instruction, use and
avoidance are necessary to effectively help others with this form
of our eclectic approach to medicine.
LaKisha Brandon (9th Tri), Darius Lembert (10th Tri), and
Joclyn Davis (9th Tri)
formulating and dispensing a custom tincture from our clinic
My definition of botanical medicine is using plants and their
constituent chemicals to help others heal. To that end we have a
series of four botanical medicine courses before and during our
clinical rotations here at NUHS to prepare us as new practitioners
out in practice.
Dr. Lorinda Sorensen and Dr. Fraser Smith (Dean of Naturopathic
Medicine) guide our ND students skillfully through this course
sequence in a way that prepares our future docs with a wealth of
information. We study the habitat, harvesting methods, parts of the
plants that are used, and proper preparation from harvest to
medicine. We are taught interactions (both beneficial and
dangerous) with pharmaceutical drugs. Finally, we learn the proper
times to use and avoid any botanical medicine, as well as the
proper dosage method, amount and timing.
When in clinic, we custom prepare our own tinctures based upon
the needs of the patient. We utilize the variety of professionally
prepared, medicinal grade botanical preparations at our disposal in
the clinic dispensary. We combine our botanical medicines with
other therapies that can help our patients on the path to a return
to their basis of health. This could be a quick turnaround or could
take some time depending upon the pathology and methodologies
utilized in the treatment plan. Through learning botanical medicine
at NUHS, I feel that we are well prepared to enter our practices
with a solid botanical skillset.
This past week has been an expansion of my efforts I listed for
you in my blog.
As an example, I just completed a presentation for my Advanced
Botanical Prescribing class to be presented next week. The
presentation is a review of the cardiovascular drug, digoxin, along
with referenced studies of botanical interactions on the efficacy
of digoxin's function in the human body. I chose to focus on three
botanicals. These are Hypericum perforatum or St. John's Wort,
Withania somnifera or Ashwagandha, and Crataegus oxycantha or
Hawthorne. The interactions between digoxin and these botanicals
were surprising and warrant further study. I'm sure my classmates
will be interested in the findings I present next week.
Many people take botanical supplements alongside their
pharmaceutical prescription drugs with the notion that botanicals
are all natural, not chemically derived, so they must be inherently
safe. What most don't realize is that botanicals have chemical
constituents that impact the human body and can interact with
pharmaceutical drugs by either increasing or decreasing the drug's
effect, to keep things simple for our purposes here.
Pharmaceuticals are prescribed for specific reasons and should
never be tampered with by altering the prescription or adding
supplements unless under the direction of a licensed provider. This
goes for the patient, friends, family, or those who wish to help
yet may not understand the impact of what appears to be friendly
With the exception of the myriad reports, presentations,
reviews, quizzes, and exams that are typical of eighth trimester,
my week has consisted of work, and a short break to the theatre to
see a movie. While things are a bit tedious right now, I'm certain
once this trimester is completed and "in the books" so to speak,
I'll be able to get out and about and let you guys know a bit about
the area this spring and summer! I can't wait for some nice warm
spring days to get to the lake and enjoy the scenery!
Until next week may your springtime arrive and the birds wake
you with song!
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
• Minor Surgery
• Intern Skills
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