Class Descriptions

Descriptions of all the classes included in the Online Symposium Experience are listed below. But there's more! Use these links to learn about our Pre-Symposium Intensive Webinars and Post-Symposium Intensive Webinar Series, From the Kitchen Cupboard to the Clinic, and our two keynote presentations from Tieraona Low Dog and Leah Penniman.

To learn more about each presenter visit Presenter Bios.

About Our 2020 Symposium Theme:
Stories that Heal: Narrative Herbalism in Practice

Herbalists have always valued storytelling in understanding our client’s struggles with illness and their search for health. The topics presented at our 2020 Symposium examine and explore the importance of story within the clinical setting. As you will see, embracing the narrative or story is a path that leads to ethical, compassionate, and, hopefully accurate, interpretation of the client's experience.

When we acknowledge that client narratives are a form of evidence equal to scientific research or evidence-based medicine, a sort of poetic medicine emerges that reshapes the practice of herbalism. As the author Isak Dinesen wrote, “All suffering is bearable if it is seen as part of a story.”

Narrative medicine believes the cure is much more than the remedies used to heal the physical body; it is also imbued in the telling of the client’s story and the practitioner’s ability to listen fully and bear witness to their lived experience. And it calls on us as healers to reflect on our stories and how they impact therapeutic outcomes, our ability to express empathy, and deepen our own healing journey.

If you register for the 2020 Symposium and the Post-Symposium Intensive Webinar SeriesFrom the Kitchen Cupboard to the Clinic, you qualify to receive a Certificate of Completion for Narrative in Practice: Case Studies in Clinical Herbalism. After you complete a short evaluation form (to be emailed after webinar series ends), you’ll receive a certificate via email.


Adjunct Herbs for Clinical Abortions

In the United States, 1 out of 3 birthing people will at some point have an abortion. Whether someone is 4 weeks pregnant or 20 weeks pregnant, the process of terminating a pregnancy can have significant physical, mental, and emotional impacts. Often, patients receive little to no aftercare inside the health care system and social stigmatization could mean clients can’t ask their closest friends and family for support. Knowing how to support abortion holistically in your practice will help clients heal after making this decision for themselves, their family, and their community.

Affrilachia Healing: The History of Black Healers in the South

Affrilachia healing is carrying on a legacy of women of color in the healing arts and wellness movement of the South. Throughout history, women of color have played important roles in the world of healing arts and healthcare. From the granny midwife, herbalist, abolitionist, and our food for the soul to the medicine women who healed, join me in speaking their names to understand their journeys and the importance of their contributions, folk medicine, and inspirational stories.

An Energetic Approach to Herbalism and Aromatherapy

All traditional systems of medicine rely on energetic systems (yin/yang, the four Western elements, the Chinese five elements, and so forth). How all these systems fit together has been a subject of study for me for over 35 years. I've created a new understanding of herbal energetics based on the idea that energy travels in cycles (or circles) and applied it to herbs, essential oils, tissue states, and emotions. I'll be presenting my energetic models for consideration and discussion.

Autoimmune Support in the Age of COVID-19

In this timely presentation, we will begin with an overview of COVID-19 and what facts we know thus far in the pandemic. We will cover a general and more complex understanding of autoimmune diseases, including delving into initiators of autoimmune issues and the mechanism by which they occur. Treatment options for COVID-19 will be covered, including those from the medical model, supplements, herbs, and dietary approaches. We will also go over some emerging biological therapies and, finally, specific disease examples and case studies.

Case Studies from an Integrated Free Clinic

This class will look at case studies from the patients seen at the Ithaca Free Clinic, an integrated free clinic. These present a diversity of health issues and treatment approaches. Many of the patients seen at the clinic are new to herbal medicine and often have less access to resources, which present challenges to the herbalist that will also be addressed in this class.

Case Study: Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth

This class covers herbal formulating and gut health based on personal cases and information from my herb school and new textbook. The SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) narrative takes on a tough case and considers intestinal permeability, the four R program, and changing formulas as gut healing progresses. This includes S.O.A.P. organizational process, choosing effective herbs using energetics with rationales, and dosage, dietary, supplementation, and lifestyle suggestions.

Classical Chinese Medicine’s Profound Narrative of Healing

What is your narrative about how the body and healing work? Allopathic medicine is still the primary narrative most herbalists follow in diagnosis and treatment. Herbalists often fall into a story of the body as being vulnerable to attack, toxic, and reactive. Heal this story with the classical Chinese medicine narrative of openness, relationship, and resilience in life. Learn how an herb's flavor, nature, and appearance help guide us to truly heal from the broken story.

Daily Routine: The Habits of Healing

We will explore the clinical importance - both in the intake process and in offering herbal protocols - of the Daily Routine. Our daily lives - a unique web of rhythms and relationships - shape who (and how) we are. In disease and in health, we are processes. We are verbs, not nouns. Healing supports the habits that make us well and restructures those we would do well to change.

Hashimoto’s Disease and Pernicious Anemia

This case presentation covers a 49-year-old woman with a 17-year history of Hashimoto's thyroiditis and pernicious anemia. I supported her with diet, herbs, and lifestyle modifications with the goals of using a lower dose of thyroid medication, emotionally anchoring, and making choices from a position of informed power. We will discuss herbs and strategies used successfully to help support healthy mood, improved resilience in the stress response, improved energy, confidence in one's own healthcare, and the body’s ability to regulate hormone levels.

Healing with Cannabis: The Endocannabinoid System

Joanna navigated many serious health issues, along with those of her two children, and her father, whom she helped heal naturally from stage 4 metastatic melanoma using Ayurvedic herbs and cannabis oils. She will discuss the endocannabinoid system and the importance of creating homeostasis within this bodily system which influences the immune system and all other systems of the human body. She will teach about various cultivars, the "entourage effect", therapeutic extraction methods, and dosing.

Herbal Roots of Radical Medic Collectives

Two longtime radical herbalists from MASHH Clinic and Black Cross Health Collective share a case study of the progressive organizing and skilled public health planning that allowed medics to deliver holistic clinical care in the face of tear gas, pepper spray, and a range of “crowd control” weapons. This narrative ties the individual wisdom and bravery of herbal healers to a collective thread of resistance, mutual aid, and community empowerment.

Herbal Treatment for Giardiasis

This class coves a full case study from the initial visit through the extensive follow-up on a case of chronic giardiasis treated exclusively with herbal medicine and nutritional guidelines. The case study includes information regarding appropriate lab testing for accurate diagnosis, in-depth explanation of all herbal preparations used and why, follow-up testing, post-treatment considerations, and long-term gastrointestinal healing approaches after a chronic parasitic infection.

Herbalism in the Grieving Process

Grief is the white elephant health crisis of our time. At some point each of us will grieve someone or something we have loved deeply. Grief has profound physiological changes in the body that can worsen already existing health issues or precipitate new ones. Learn how herbalism can provide you with the tools you need to care for yourself or anyone who grieves.

Medicinal Mushrooms and Viral Infections

This lecture will highlight medicinal mushrooms and their specific applications as preventative, antiviral, and virucidal medicines. Broad concepts will be introduced and reviewed. Research will be reviewed for treating major viral infections (including HIV/AIDs, Herpes, Epstein-barr, Flu, and the Coronavirus family). Clinical cases will be discussed as well.

Narrative Herbal Medicine: Weaving Words and Healing Herbs

In this exploratory class, we will navigate our way through mapping the space where herbs and words coincide. Potential topics covered include narrative humility, poetic medicine, tools for narrative knowledge, the language of the body, the language of the plants, and constitutional medicine. Attendees will encounter questions the practicing herbalist can ask a client, ways of teasing the stories out of others, skills of deep and reflective listening, and empathic connections.

Neurology, Mitochondria, and Traditional Medicines

Traditional medicine has always treated the central nervous system (CNS) but until recently there has been little work on how these remedies work. One of the possible modes of activity for this activity has been through enhancement of mitochondrial processes. Besides the fundamental role of mitochondria in metabolic processes, mitochondria are key in messaging in the CNS. Mitochondrial processes such as the unfolded protein response, mitophagy, fission, fusion, and cross talk between other organelles all have a significant role in brain health. Multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. In this presentation, we will examine a set of herbal medicines that either through traditional medicine or modern research are known for neurological activity and have a role in mitochondrial pharmacology.

Panel - What Does Responsible Stewardship Look Like?

This collaboration builds on the panel discussion at the 2018 AHG Symposium on aggregating bioregional sources of medicinal herbs. The coronavirus is already having a huge impact on medicinal plants and the herbal products industry, putting pressure on plants that in ideal circumstances take several years to source responsibly. Spikes in demand are never good for supplies of medicinal plants and the communities that provide them. This panel will discuss how the herb community can help create more resilient and regionally-based sources of medicinal plants. We will seek to identify concrete action steps to move the discussion beyond ideas and into discussions of strategies to implement in each of our communities.

Panel – COVID-19: Herbalism in Action

The use of herbal remedies with COVID-19 is constantly evolving as we learn more about the virus and how it responds to plant-based protocols. Three panelists, practitioners and medical botanists, will share their perspectives on our growing understanding of the role herbal medicine plays in managing community care in the face of this pandemic.

Panel – Effective Herbal Protocols for Better Sleep

Sleep quality is a key contributor to overall health. This panel discussion brings together three experienced practitioners discussing various herbal protocols they have found to be effective in addressing the range of issues that contribute to poor sleep patterns. In addition to specific materia medica, they’ll also explore the connection between chronic sleep issues and pathophysiology.

Power of Plagues: Diseases that Change Our World

In March 2018, the WHO added ‘Disease X’ to a list of maladies that could cause a worldwide epidemic. The recent COVID-19 pandemic meets the description of this forecast event. Despite advancements in the development of antimicrobials, vaccines, clean water, and food supplies, modern civilizations are not immune to epidemic disease. This class provides an overview of pathogens, statistics, historic context, and the subsequent impact on society of these plagues.

Reversal of Urosepsis/SIRS with Herbal Therapy

We will review a case involving a 69-year-old male with co-morbidities, presenting with S/S consistent with acute UTI, dehydration, and beginning signs of urosepsis/SIRS. There was a documented reversal of symptoms began within 2 hours of initiating chosen therapy. The patient was closely monitored overnight, with therapeutic treatment continuing for 2 weeks after initial diagnosis. Their complete recovery was verified by negative urinalysis and C&S, abdominal CT, and cystoscopy as obtained 3 weeks later during a routine MD visit.

Successful Non-Conventional Treatment of Lymphoma

This is the ongoing narrative of a 60-year-old female patient who initially came to see us in 2015 for a variety of symptoms including fatigue, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, and stress. We put together a comprehensive protocol including herbs, diet, and lifestyle modifications and she saw significant improvement in symptoms. During this process, she was also diagnosed with follicular lymphoma for which conventional treatment options at the time were limited, thus allowing us 2 months of time with the patient fully on board with a more robust ETMS (Eclectic Triphasic Medical System) protocol in place prior to reassessment from the oncologist. Both TCM and modern functional medical assessment (including pathology genomics) guided the various internal and topical interventions employed. Though we were not without missteps, our outcomes of this case to date have been very successful by various measures.

Tales of Practice from an Earth Momma

Margi will share stories stored in her heart of success and stupidity, joy and wonder, intuition and compassion. She'll share stories of herbal protection, magic, encouragement, and unwavering belief in our wonderful Plant kin. Forty plus years of practice does give one a rich tapestry of experiences to share.

Teaching Old Herbs New Tricks

The commercialization of herbs is limiting our use and knowledge of herbs so much that their uses are being lost. While many herbs throughout the world have similar uses in various cultures, the same herb is often used differently by different traditions. It’s time to bring back our herbal traditions and expand their uses by remembering their original uses and incorporating new possibilities derived from other traditions. Learn how to get more out of your herbs by teaching them new tricks. The presentation will include personal experience and case studies.

The Differential Use of Botanicals for Mental Health

Rates of anxiety, depression, insomnia, opioid overdose, and suicide have been climbing during this pandemic. Clearly, the mental health of many is suffering. Botanicals, along with sensible recommendations for lifestyle and counseling, can be highly effective for improving mental and emotional well-being. Using case studies, clinical experience, historical use, and contemporary science, this presentation will explore various treatment protocols for mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and burnout.

The Highs and Lows of Menopause

In traditional cultures, when a woman no longer sheds her wise blood, she becomes an honored elder in the community. In our current culture, women aren't supported to feel that way. The intensity of hot flashes and other uncontrollable events makes one feel like they are skiing the black diamonds without ever taking a lesson. A tailored approach arms her with tools for the next wave of uprising challenges.

The Narrative of Jewish Folk Medicine in Clinical Cases

This class will cover: understanding Judaism as an ethnicity, the narrative of genetic predispositions in clinical studies of Jewish people (breast cancer and Tay-Sachs disease), Jewish concepts of sickness, and herbalism in Jewish folk medicine: a cross-cultural comparison with uses in the Americas including the evil eye to herbal cleansing. There will be discussion of traditional uses of medicinal plants in the Jewish folk medicine tradition: Mandrake Root, Hyssop, Elder, Rue, Parsley, Herbs of Gilead, Frankincense, Myrrh, Balsam, and more.