Archive for tag: botanicals

Intern Skills - Botanical Medicine

Hi, everyone!

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 dispensary.

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.

  • Botanical Medicine I
  • Botanical Medicine II
  • Botanical Medicine III - Advanced Botanical Prescribing
  • Botanical Medicine IV - Advanced Materia Medica

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.

Time Crunch

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 advice. 

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!