Introduction to Animal Herbalism
February 14, 2014 at 12:47 am
Over the last few years, interest in herbalism for both humans and other creatures has grown dramatically. Some call this “The Herbal Resurgence” and I for one love that name. When I was a teenager and into my 20s, there was a certain underground interest in herbs, but nothing to what we are seeing today. I recall buying my first herbal(I think it was one by Jeanne Rose) around then, and though it would be a while before I realized this was my calling, I always used those first books for simple remedies and teas, a few cherished recipes from Kitchen Cosmetics, and over time, my interest grew. I remember those times with such fondness…and later, delving more deeply, I recall the sense of AHA! looking at my so-called culinary herbs with new eyes, not to mention the wild “weeds” I had for too long overlooked.The resurgence opened a door into herbs for me in a way that transcended the lovely but detached way I had used and thought about plant medicine – it transformed me. In this course, I hope to form one of those magical gateways for students as well, those just itching to know more, do more and understand more about herbs for both human and non-human care. When I look back and ask myself what kind of course, what specific knowledge do I wish I could have accessed in one place earlier in my studies, I know what I want to offer now. Not an overwhelming series of assignments and memorizations, but a dynamic programme of both study and practise that builds a steady, solid foundation of understanding. And because I work primarily at this time as a herbalist for non-humans, most of my requests for a course are geared to companion animals; still, I feel that the most important way to deeply know a plant and it’s medicine is to work with it ourselves, take it as daily tea or infusion; make and use simple recipes. Hence this course is geared to herbs for both human use and for the unique needs of companion animals, most specifically cats and dogs.
There is no question about it – working with animals is for me, a magical and beautiful calling. It’s a deep pleasure to share this work with others, I look forward to the journey.
Course Outline (more details available upon request)
This course consists of 12 Units of study, and while a 2-3 week per Unit timeframe is optimal, I honour the reality of busy lives and leave it up to the individual to work out a schedule. There will be an open classroom/forum to discuss with others, and as always one-on-one support from me as we go. The material we cover includes:
1. Orientation – An Introduction to and history of veterinary herbalism..goals and method of the course…seeing everyday plants as medicine, using what you have, exploring herbs you are already familiar with in greater depth… how are animals different? Prevention and support versus “this-for-that” allopathic, illness-oriented herbalism..tools for getting started…why whole plants instead of extracts? What is Vitalism and how does it apply to this course?
2) Materia Medica – the main plants of this course, conventional and historic uses….herbs of commerce and how to use them/alternatives/…culinary herbs much more than seasonings…wild weeds and their bounty of healing…60 herbs (more or less)
3) Actions – what is meant by this term and why is it so important?Different meas of classifying Actions(allopathic, vitalist, biochemical) Exploring primary and secondary Actions (from a Vitalist perspective) as a foundation of learning and working with simples and formulas…every herb IS a formula in itself..covering astringents, alteratives, tonics, demulcents, adaptogens, nervines and many other enormously useful terms
4) Constituents….a basic overview of the biochemistry…understanding groups of constituents (alkaloids, tannins, nutrients,mucilages) and why it’s so important to learn and understand them (interactions and contraindications, standardized extracts versus whole plant preparations)
5) Energetics – what is meant by the term? how can we tell what is “cooling/warming or drying/moistening? traditional ways of grouping energetics(Western) Experience the energetic in your own body…how to apply/match herbal energetics with an individual constitution…do animals have constitutional types? Balancing energies in a simple formula.
6) Preparation and Dosage; Making the basics – tea/infusion, decoction, tincture, glycerite, honey, vinegar, oxymel, basic oil infusions and salve, how to prepare a poultice, compress fomentation(and know when to use which) guidelines for dosing yourself and other species
7) Using the herbs 101– starts with prevention and nourishment – …. think of supporting tissues/systems rather than tackling a condition..daily infusions for you, seasonal rotated herbs for your dog and cat….gentle support for the skin, digestive system, nerves, urinary tract and more
8) Carnivore nutrition…special needs and uniqueness of dogs and cats…herbs to avoid animals…alcohol vs, glycerin..using capsules..and honeys for debilitated animals….always assess the diet first..pro/con of various dietary theories
9) Using the herbs 201 – common conditions every animal lover will encounter…..dealing with fleas and ticks, internal parasites, colitis, arthritis, bladder infections, hot spots, anxiety and others
10) First Aid cuts, burns, soft tissue injury, insect stings, seizures, abnormal bleeding, animal bites, fractures, collapse, bloat
11) Recipe time! wherein I share many of my own favorites for YOU and the fourleggeds too…salves, tinctures, elixirs, tea blends, medicine balls (for you – chocolate! for them – coconut oil) coat conditioners, bath salts and body lotions
12) Wrapping up – course review….notes on botany and wildcrafting…question period…where do we go from here? Other modalities of healing…for those wanting to work with animals…resources for all
There are no required texts for this course, all the material is covered by my classnotes. I will provide a recommended/supplemental reading list and other resources (seed catalogues, canine and feline health and nutrition sites, botany and wildcrafting resources, recommended blogs and herbal schools for advanced learning). Assigned work will include research projects, much personal experimentation, some reading and written work. An approximate length of time for the course would be 24 – 36 weeks.
Tuition is 250$. I am also offering an audit-only option (75$) a payment option (email me to discuss your proposal) . May 15th the tuition increases to 400$ for students, and 100$ for auditors.
And aside from all the knowledge and fun, you will receive a certificate of completion and a personalized herbal package from me.
This course is done entirely online, and at your own pace. Admission is always open.
Contact me at my business address for more information or to register.