Practical Herbalism – an Online Course

Today I am pleased to offer a new course, a unique course, focused on dogs, on herbs and on common canine conditions you as a home herbalist will almost certainly encounter.

Why this course, and why now? There is a veritable avalanche of information today, online and in books, on the subject of “natural health” for animals. Some of this is a good thing, as working with herbs and diet can have a ripple-effect, not only healing the individual animal of any species, but bringing the one doing the healing work closer to a truly holistic view of the world. I’ve talked about this in my article “Healing Animals Heals Us and the Earth” – my deep belief in the Interconnectedness of all life, and how something as deceptively simple and small as changing your dog’s diet can bring much more healing to the world around us than we might ever dream. When I began this journey, there were only a few nutrition books for dogs and cats and none that I know of outside of Juliette de baraclai Levy, that focused on the unique needs of other species. Today, we still don’t have a lot of “animal herbals” but we have countless books on nutrition, countless sites – opinions – and the whole “natural health for dogs” has become a huge, multi-million dollar business.

Of course, that kind of outreach brings both good things and, some problems.

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Here’s what I think about the natural health trend; it is great, wonderful and important that people are learning to feed their animals better diets, that vastly better foods are available commercially, that owners increasingly think of herbs for common complaints, that many vets are questioning the overuse of vaccinations and antibiotics, and rethinking the importance of a fresh food diet. It is also overwhelming for the average person to sort out what is reliable information, what I hear is increasing bewilderment. There is also a great limitation on the herbs people hear about, because the popular press focuses on two things; One, a specific group of commercial plants, which may be ideal for a given condition or individual, but also may not be, leaving the owner feeling disappointed and helpless, and Two, the use of herbs for conditions, in other words the use of herbs as “natural” replacements for veterinary drugs. (I’ve written about that  here – http://www.thepossiblecanine.com/this-for-that-herbalism-is-there-a-place-for-it – there is a place for the Quick Fix approach, but it is also very superficial and limiting, if it’s the entirety of what an herbalist knows to do).

Since I have been writing for Plant Healer Magazine, and also sharing what I can on my Facebook Page and group, more and more people are approaching me with interest in the deeper work of a clinical herbalist. While some are interested in this work as a calling, and want ideas about where to start learning – what I hear most of the time is, that people would simply to know more, go deeper and learn about more plants and how to utilize them. This is “conditions-based herbalism”, yes — but it’s an important entry point and very empowering tool for the newcomer (and for the professional; I took a First Aid course myself last year, with the renowned Ithaca herbalist Sevensong, and First Aid is almost solely ‘conditions-based’ – I learned a lot!) To that end, the Practical Herbalism course was born.

I’m so very excited about this one – I’ve already shared a Course Outline and FAQs already – but let me go over a little bit more here, as to what this course entails.
What will you be able to do with this course?

Well, several things – a few listed below:

1) You’ll be able to understand how to select herbs to promote wellness, to use as tonics, and how to prepare and dose them safely and effectively

2) You’ll also know how to select from a wide range of herbs, to most effectively address common health conditions

3) You’ll be able to set up and develop a home herbal apothecary, starting with a few basic necessities and adding herbs, tinctures, oils and more as you go

4) Something I feel strongly about is Bioregionalism – in this course we will cover dozens of wild “weeds” that offer profound medicinal value and you will know how to identify them with 100% certitude – harvest prepare, and use for your dogs.

5) You’ll be able to make teas, infusions, decoctions, tinctures, glycerites, vinegars, pastilles and electuaries, oxymels, compresses, herbal honeys, poultices and fomentations…be forewarned medicine-making is addictive! And you’ll know when to use which and how to dose. Yes, this is a very comprehensive course.

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6) Most critically, you will learn to think of about herbal actions, and energetics, and not *just* what condition it can be used for. Because we are going to learn about conditions system-by-system, you’ll come away with a much more sophisticated understanding of herbs than just “this-for-that” style (superficial) usage. Plant medicine is so much more than thinking of a herb as a natural, less toxic alternative to a drug. The art takes many years to master, but it goes much more easily if you know how to approach it. In other words – this course will not just teach you an amazing amount about the herbs we’re covering and the conditions everyone wants to know about – it teaches you how to go on learning.

7) For some students, this course will cover everything they wanted to know about caring for their own dogs and set them up with an apothecary and a set of recipes to rely on for life. For others, it will form a starting place from which to build and expand herbal knowledge. Practical Herbalism can be an end in itself or the foundation of much more learning.

The course will also include 75 tried and true recipes for natural shampoo and coat conditioner, bug spray, an assortment of tinctures and glycerites, “goo balls” and herbal honeys, salves, vinegars and more. It consists of 15 modules with assignments at the end, also review worksheets so you can check your knowledge before handing in work and interactive quizzes on the site, just for fun. You will also receive 25% off any of my other courses as well as an extensive list of resources – recommended websites on nutrition, herbs and canine health.
To register, you can purchase the course at the onetime reduced price of 250$, right on this site, and I will issue your Registration right away.

I look forward to meeting you! Please ask anything about the course in the comments, too.

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Practical Herbalism for Dogs – Homestudy Course

This online course will be open-ended, meaning you can take as long as you like to finish. The course starts with covering some basic information on herbalism, describes how to stock up a home apothecary, and then goes straight into the conditions you, as home herbalist, are likely to face with your dogs.(Much, but not all of the information applies to cats – when in doubt, ask me!)

While this course aims to be comprehensive and cover not only common conditions, selection of herbs, preparation, dosing and potential interactions, it is also an Introductory programme and so we won’t be looking at some of the more severe diseases that a herbalist night be called to address. For example, the section on skin won’t touch on pemphigus, and the Immune system module will cover auto-immune disease, but not go into detail about working with conditions such as lupus or thrombocytopaenia. There will be a special module on cancer; unfortunately it touches almost every dog lover’s life at one time or another, so I feel it merits a special look. Important to remember too, that many conditions overlap; food intolerance starts with the immune system but affects both skin and digestion. In cases like this, I have placed the condition under the category of the system it originates in.

Each of these topics, from history of herbal medicine to actions and energetics, through each body system and on to cancer, deserves a whole course of study, and for the professional, a lifetime of adding to that study with cases, courses and keeping up with new findings as well as learning the old knowledge. For the home herbalist, I hope this course will provide you with a foundation for working more precisely and expansively.

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Monarda didyma,  common name Bee Balm, underused in veterinary herbalism but a powerhouse of actions including relaxing nervine, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, carminative and anti-spasmodic – useful for a variety of digestive upset, for yeast infection, abscesses and other infections,  for nervous highstrung dogs who run to a cold constitution or as part of various formulas for anxiety

PART ONE – Getting Started

Module One – Introduction to Herbalism

– How herbalism differs from the popular coverage – allopathic vs. holistic
– History of herbal medicine (Chinese, Ayurveda, Western)
– Using plant medicine – conditions vs systems, “quick fix” vs longterm support
– Actions – why you need to know them all…Actions describe what a herb does in the body (astringent, demulcent, alterative, cholagogue, nervine, stimulant etc ) and herbs have more than one action, so this is foundational knowledge. We’ll use the actions of a herb consistently throughout the course to help familiarize you with them all
– Constituents – an overview of the basic biochemistry of plants
– Energetics – a look at the spectrum of temperature (heat/neutral/cold) and moisture level /effect of herbs, and how these impact on our selection and formulation
– Constitution – what does the term really mean and how do we assess it?
– Special needs of the Dog – cautions and sensitivities

Module Two – Your Herbal Home Apothecary

– Getting set up – selecting and storing herbs
– Dry herbs – growing, ordering, storing
– Tinctures – alcohol, glycerites – what to purchase, when to use
– Jars and bottles, lids and labels,equipment for making and measuring
– The herbs from A – Z I use the most(and you will too)
– Other stuff you will need ( scales, funnels, gauze, infusers, sterilizing pans, and more)

Module Three – Preparation

Herbs can be prepared in a variety of ways, some methods are superior for extraction of some constituents, for example alkaloids tend to extract best in alcohol, mucilage extracts in water, and so on. Water preparations are often ideal, but your dog may not like the bitter taste of some herbs. This unit will cover basic methods of preparation, from cold infusions to electuaries (pills you can make by heating honey and stirring powdered herb into it, then rolling into balls).

– Water – Infusions and decoctions
– Alcohol and glycerin – Tinctures
– Sweet stuff – honey, electuaries, syrups
– Pills, powders and capsules
– What you will need – equipment list and resources

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Goldenrod, Solidago spp…often misunderstood as a cause of hayfever when for most people it is simply blooming at the same time as the real culprit: Ragweed! Goldenrod is an amazing herb, again underused, but has applications  for use both externally and internally. Goldenrod is astringent, anti-inflammatory,carminative, expectorant, antifungal and more – making it useful for rhinitis, diarrhea(astringency) for bladder infections,and topically it makes a lovely infused oil for sore muscles and sprains.

Module Four – The Skin

– Overview of the skin
– Nutrition and the skin
– Hot spots
– Fungal infections
– Atopy
– Yeast (Malessezia)
– Seborrhea
– Flea allergy
– Mange
– Abscesses
– Lick dermatitis
– Burns
– Bee and wasp stings, insect bites
– Canine acne
– Pyoderma: superficial, deep and skin-fold

Materia Medica for the Skin: Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Chamomile (Matricaria recutita ) Aloe Vera(Aloe spp), Rose (Rosa spp) Chickweed (Stellaria media) Plantain (Plantago major, lanceolata)

Module Five – The Digestive System

– Overview of the digestive system
– Nutrition and the digestive tract
– “Colitis” what the term means and encompasses
– Diarrhea – types and causes, how to treat, when to see the vet
– Conditions of the stomach – gastric ulcers, reflux, enteritis
– Herbs for the Liver and gallbladder –
– Pancreatitis and EPI
– Constipation
– Food intolerance

Materia Medica for the digestive system: Slippery Elm (Ulnus rubra) Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) Burdock (Arctium lappa) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Oregongrape root(Mahonia aquafolium) Turmeric(Curcuma longa)  Marshmallow(Althea officinalis)  Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), Peppermint(Mentha x piperita)  Fennel(Foeniculum vulgare)  Cinnamon(Cinnamomum spp)  Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus)

Module Six – the Nervous System

– Overview of the nervous system
– Nutrition and the nervous system
– Anxiety
– Depression, grief
– Phobias
– Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
– Pain – types of(chronic, acute, mild, severe)

Materia Medica for the Nervous System: Skullcap(Scutalleria lateriflora), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) , Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Crampbark (Viburnum opulus), Linden (Tilia cordata) Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Milky Oats (Avena sativa) St. John’s wort(Hypericum perforatum) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Module Seven- the Urinary System

– Overview of the urinary system
– Nutrition and the nervous system
– Urinary tract infection
– Urolithiasis – types of stones, varying strategies
– Chronic kidney disease
– Incontinence

Materia Medica for the Urinary System: Uva ursi (Arctostaphylus uva-ursi)) Echinacea(Echinacea spp) Agrimony(Agrimonia eupatoria), Couch grass (Agropyron repens), Cornsilk(Zea mays) Yarrow(Achillea millefoilum) Horestail(Equisetum arvense) Gravel Root(Eupatorium purpurea) Parsley (Petrosolineum spp)

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Gravel Root, Eupatorium purpurea, is a common sight along roadsides and near marshes in the summer months across much of North America. It’s an amazingly useful plant in cases of bladder and kidney stones, but should be used under the supervision of an experienced herbalist. 

Module Eight – the Respiratory system

– Overview of the Respiratory System
– Nutrition and the Respiratory System
– Kennel Cough
– Acute rhinitis
– Sinusitis
– COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
– Allergic pneumonitis

Materia Medica for the Respiratory System: Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) Reishi(Ganoderma lucidum) Elecampane(Inula helenium) Thyme(Thymus vulgaris) Osha(Ligusticum porteri)  Hyssop(Hyssopus officinalis) WildCherry bark(Prunus serotina) Licorice(Glycyrrhiza glabra)  Evening primrose(Oenothera biennis) Sage (Salvia officinalis) Goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis)  Angelica(Angelica archangelica)

Module Nine – the Immune System

– Overview of the Immune System
– Nutrition and the Immune System
– Food Allergy
– Atopy
– Immunodeficiency
– Chronic Allergic Bronchitis
– Hives
– Overview of Auto-Immune disease
– Idiopathic polyarthritis
– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Infectious disease – tickborne

Materia Medica for the Immune System: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Medicinal mushrooms (Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake, Shiitake, Turkey tail, Chaga) Echinacea(Echinacea spp), Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Astragalus (Astragalaus membranaceus) Elder (Sambucus Canadensis, nigra) American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)

Module Ten – the Cardiovascular System

– Overview of the Cardiovascular System
– Nutrition and the Cardiovascular System
– Dilated cardiomyopathy
– Heartworm
– Infective Endocarditis
– Degenerative Valve disease
– High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
– Myocarditis
– Congenital heart disease

Materia Medica for the Cardiovascular System: Hawthorn (Crataegus spp) Motherwort(Leonurus cardiaca) Ginkgo biloba, Cayenne(Capsicum annuum), Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) Arjuna(Terminalia arjuna), Coleus (Plectranthus barbatus), Garlic (Allium sativum)

Module Eleven – the Musculoskeletal System

– Overview of the Musculoskeletal System
– Nutrition and the Musculoskeletal System
– Osteochondrosis
– Hip dysplasia
– Trauma and injury, muscle, tendon and bone
– Osteoarthritis v
– Osteomalacia (adult rickets)

Materia Medica for the Musculoskeletal System: Devil’s Claw(Harpagophytum procumbens) Solomon’s Seal(Polygonatum biflorum) Comfrey(Symphytum officinale) Boswellia(Boswellia serrata) Ginger(Zingiber officinale)

Module Twelve – the Endocrine System

– Overview of the Endocrine System
– Nutrition and the Endocrine System
– Diabetes
– Thyroid disease
– Cushing’s disease
– Addison’s disease
Materia Medica for the Endocrine System: Bugleweed(Lycopus spp), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Asian ginseng(Panax ginseng) Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Siberian ginseng(Eleutherococcus senticosus) Holy Basil(Ocimum tenuiflorum)  Codonopsis(Codonopsis Pilosula)

Module Thirteen – the Lymphatic System

– Overview of the Lymphatic System
– Nutrition and the Lymphatic System
– This unit will focus on infection and the need for supporting healthy lymphatic function in specific ways according to condition. Materia Medica includes Cleaver’s herb (Galium Aparine), Red Root (Ceanothus velutinus), Violet (Viola odorata) and Wild Indigo(Baptisia tinctoria)

Module Fourteen – the Reproductive System

– Overview of the Reproductive System
– Nutrition and the Reproductive System
– Enlargement of the Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)
– Prostatitis
– Inflammation of the testes and penis
– Vaginitis
– Mastitis
– False pregnancy
– Pyometra
– Infertility

Materia Medica for the Reproductive System: Lady’s Mantle(Alchemilla vulgaris) Saw Palmetto(Serenoa repens) Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) Raspberry(Rubus idaeus), Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Module Fifteen –Cancer

– Overview – what is cancer? Types of cancer…stages and grading…conventional veterinary treatments
– Popular therapeutic approaches, diet, supplements and herbs
– Nutrition and cancer
– Herbal support and cancer – importance of personalized protocols…herb/drug interactions
– The antioxidant controversy
– Resources for helping the owner
– Materia Medica(includes herbs from all of the above categories)

Module Sixteen – Inflammation

Inflammation has become a bit of a buzzword these days, but not without good cause. While  the process of inflammation is an integral, healing response to trauma, injury and infection, systemic, chronic inflammation is pathological and underpins the development of many common diseases. In this course we will be looking at many herbs whose actions include “anti-inflammatory”- but there are other interventions to utilize, including dietary adjustments, addressing stress and adding appropriate exercise. To understand how the inflammation process works is key, so this Module will cover the mechanisms and effects of chronic inflammation, including the role of gut microbiota, glucose dysregulation, nutrient deficiency and more. My goal here is to make technical terms  more easily understandable and equip students with  not only herbs, but other tools to address systemic inflammation before it develops into disease.

Note that the course is open-ended, so you can take whatever time you need, but if you want the certificate I need you to complete it within 12 months, or else contact me and we can make an arrangement. In each module, we will discuss the recommended herbs, with information about preparation (not all plant constituents can be extracted the same way) dosing, contraindications and interactions with other herbs or with medication. I place safety first in all my work, with both herbs and diet, it is better to ask if you aren’t 100% sure, and better not to give anything you’re not certain of, either. I encourage and enjoy classroom discussion, but cannot develop individual protocols for anyone’s dog via the classroom. We can discuss cases of course, but if you need support with a serious health issue I encourage you to book a consultation with me or find a qualified herbalist in your area to work with.
I look forward to getting started!

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Practical Herbalism for Common Canine Conditions

I am so thrilled to introduce this new online course, focused on practical herbalism, using herbs for minor health issues we dog lovers encounter all the time.
I have a full Course Outline posted in a separate entry – now here is some more information on how the course works and what you can expect from it.

First, the nuts and bolts of how the course works.

1) How does a distance-learning course actually work? Do I need to be online at specific times?
This course is done entirely online, at your own pace. I have set up two classroom areas; one is primarily to hold the materials, the units which contain my Classnotes, and your assignments both practical and written. The other is a Facebook group for discussions and general herb-chat. You will be sent a Registration form once you have purchased the course using the Link above, and I will hold space for you. As soon as the course is officially started, I’ll add you to both the classrooms and you can begin your journey.

2) Aside from the cost of the course, what textbooks will I need?
This course relies totally on my own writings so no texts are required. That said, every herbalist I know is an avid collector or herbals, so you may well want to start at least a small collection. I’ll be providing an extensive list of recommended books and online resources.

3) Your Outline mentions practical exercises. Are there any special supplies I will need to purchase? For the medicine-making module, and as we progress through body systems and herbs for related conditions, you will want to accumulate some herbs! These can be purchased in a myriad number of places, but I will be making recommendations (online sites). You will need basic equipment, and I’ll be posting a complete list – the essentials, some handy extras and even some luxuries.(A potato ricer works well to press out tinctures, but a tincture press is a great thing for anyone who plans to make a lot of medicine).So, you will want some jars, labels, funnels – a notebook – sieves and strainers, a foodscale – measuring spoons and a few others, most of which you already likely own. To make the salves, liniments, tinctures and other herbal medicines, you will need the herbs, plus alcohol, vinegar, various oils, beeswax – a full list will come with the course, but be aware you need some supplies.

4) Will there be a certificate at the end of the programme? For any student who completes the work yes there will be a certificate.

5) How many hours a week should I expect to spend on this course? This is a question I am asked a lot – but the answer is simply “up to you!” because the course is self-paced, you can devote as much or as little time as suits your lifestyle and preferences. I always advise students not to rush but not to miss too much time between assignments – knowledge builds on knowledge and momentum is your friend. But truly, it’s up to you how long you wish to take with the course.

6) You mention an option to audit the course, can you explain a bit about what that means? The Audit option just means you have access to the course materials – the classnotes, extra materials and assignments, as well as classroom discussion, but you don’t do the work/hand it in/get the certificate. It’s a good option for experienced herbalists who just want to look over what I do with dogs, or for someone not quite sure how deeply they want to go with herbs. Because auditors are not much in the way of work for me, it’s just $100.00 to have access to the whole course.

7) Would it be possible to start off auditing and then change to the full program later on?
Yes – but after the course starts and the price is raised, you won’t be able to access the Special Introductory Offer. But of course, switching over is always allowed. 

8) What kind of support can I expect from you as a teacher/mentor?
I make myself available in the Facebook group as much as you need, as long as it pertains to the course material. I also mark very thoroughly, and insert comments I think will be helpful as I go. I do my utmost to facilitate learning, really mastering the material – and make it enjoyable as we go. What I cannot do; answer questions over the weekend, or put together herbal protocols for your own animals. I encourage case study discussion in the classroom, and can answer short questions about dosing, safety and more, but a full protocol is still a separate service. I still need to take a full history and monitor your dog’s progress. Outside of that, I am here to help.
9) When will the course be starting?
This is still to be confirmed, but depending on several factors, as early as March 15, or as late as April 1.

10) Will you be offering a payment plan? For the full price course, yes but not for the Introductory Offer, which is essentially half price.

11) What is the cost of the course? The One-time Introductory Offer is the full certificate course for $250.00. After the Start of the course it will be $450.00. Your medicine-making materials (see above) are extra.

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