Symposium Class Descriptions

Acute Pain Management: Materia Medica, Herbal Safety, and Client Education

In this class, we cover dosing strategies, conjunctive therapeutics, herbs vs. pharmaceuticals, client expectations, and client education. We focus on herbs native to North America and the importance of sustainable harvesting, stewardship, and relationship with the herbs closest to you. Along with tasting and organoleptic analysis of the herbs, we explore clinical actions, energetics, specific indications, and methods of application for working with pain from a multi-system approach.

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Alzheimer's Disease: The Loss of Memory and Self

If you live to be 80 years old, you have a 50% chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.  Research into treating Alzheimer’s has focused on inhibiting the formation of amyloid plaques and tau protein.   New research suggests that they are not the cause of most Alzheimer’s, they are the brains response to inflammation. We have therapies that may offer real benefits for inhibiting this process.

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Aroma, Psyche, and Body in Herbal Practice

This hands-on workshop explores the role of aroma in herbal practice as a useful tool for supporting our clients, and ourselves, on our journeys to wellness. Discussions also involve unpacking the impact of emotions on human physiology. We take a brief tour of olfactory perception and its influence on emotions and the psyche through both narrative presentation and hands-on experiential and sensorial interactions with small-batch distilled aromas.

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Becoming Competent & Accessible Collaborators

Being a truly accessible holistic care provider calls for addressing the symptoms & illnesses of society. Each of us, regardless of our positionality, can replicate various forms of harm in our practices. How can we address this and become attuned accomplices to our clients & broader struggles to liberate health/care? In this workshop, we address creating practices & attitudes centering cultural competency, accessibility, and a willingness to listen.

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Botanoleptics Plant Walk - Understanding Botany Through the Lens of the Senses

Explore the native and weedy species of the Northeast. Merging science, senses, and spirit, this hands-on class is all about cultivating your herbal instincts. You get comfortable with basic botanical terminology, and learn about plant constituents, edible and medicinal uses, plant family patterns, folklore, and more. We taste, touch, smell, see, and listen with our hearts, minds, and bodies, tuning in with the unique medicine of the plants.

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Building Accessibility in Practice

Health care accessibility is often determined by factors such as identity, ability, experience with oppression, financial difficulty, and many others. This workshop explores strategies to make an herbal practice accessible to groups that often feel marginalized by the modern health care system. DC-based herbalist Holly Poole-Kavana shares experiences working with a diverse community of clients to build a practice based on anti-oppression values, body-positivity, and financial accessibility.

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Clinical Approaches to Working with Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Fluid Youth

Gender identity and expression are central to the way we engage in the world around us. This is certainly true for transgender and gender-expansive youth, for whom many providers struggle to provide competent care. This class introduces basic gender literacy and clinical approaches to show allyship for trans youth. Common challenges, goals, and how best to support our clients through herbal or other gender affirming care are also explored.

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Clinical Assessment for Pain Relieving Low Dose Botanicals

Assessment combined with individualized botanical treatment can greatly improve client outcomes regarding pain. Low dose botanicals and their homeopathic preparations provide valuable additions to and a substantial enlargement of the clinical herbalist’s pain relief toolkit. Going well beyond arnica, this class presents and differentiates among at least 10 remedies in the context of actual case studies in the herbal clinic.

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Clinical Assessment: Getting the Most Out of the First (and every) Visit with your Client

In this class, you will the learn best practices for conducting a clinical assessment in herbal practice. We will also explore effective ways to ask clients difficult questions and collect information that enables understanding of client’s needs and guides therapeutic decision making. We will discuss the important components of a good assessment and will take part in an interactive activity that will help to practice clinical skills.

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Clinical Training for your Community

There is a paucity of solid clinical training programs in the US. While Foundations programs abound, very few schools offer the next step in preparing clinicians for a professional practice in herbal medicine. This class discusses curriculum design, staffing, accountability of students, contracts and more. We also look at how to begin a low-cost community clinic to be part of the clinical program.

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Common Blood Tests and their Use for Client Assessment in Herbal Practice

In this class we will learn about basic blood tests and what their results mean to us as clinical herbalists. Complete blood counts, metabolic panels, urinalysis, cholesterol panels, and additional tests are included. We will also explore the application of herbs in the presence of abnormal lab tests through the examination of case studies. This presentation is beneficial for those at all levels in herbal medicine.

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Differential Diagnostics for the Herbalist

In traditional medical systems, there are 2 practices that allow the clinician to "treat the person rather than the disease". Energetics (plant and human) and differential diagnosis provide the necessary clues for accurate prescribing. In this class I discuss how traditional and modern diagnostic practices can be used to show patterns that clearly illuminate health concerns before they become overt pathology.

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Elemental Poetry: A Language in Clinical Practice

Everyone can relate to and understand the elements of the world; ether, air, fire, water, earth. They work in concert to manifest the laws of nature. This class is a discussion explaining the elements within botanical and human physiology, and how the world of the elements meticulously describes and transforms disease states. The poetry in the elements is an important point of view to discuss in terms of assessment. We enrich this discussion by viewing Ayurvedic, African, Traditional Chinese Medicine poetry and parables as ancient ways to describe both disease and wellness states. Most importantly, how is this language of elemental poetry important to visualize as a practitioner and to share with clients? We further explore the elements through pulse taking. In summary, this class is about bridging the elements in nature through the elements of the healer in order to heal the elements of the client.

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Find your Rhythm: Assessing Circadian Patterns

This session is dedicated to identifying and understanding human circadian patterns and the role they play in general health. We examine our own daily rhythms, discuss how to identify altered circadian patterns in our clients, and explore how to support people in returning to more rhythmic patterns. Lastly, we discuss theoretical models that may allow us to use herbal dosing strategies to encourage rhythmicity in our clients.

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Formula Mastery with Herbal Pairings

Many herbalists struggle when creating unique herbal formulas for clients. Within many herbal traditions the art of formulation is created around the pairings of herbs creating new or complementary actions. The Chinese herbalist refers to this as "Dui Yao" This class highlights specific western herb combinations for clinical formulation to reduce side effects, increase specific actions, and develop new secondary effects.

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Go with the Flow: Herbal Support for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Class begins with an overview of physiological menstrual patterns. Next, we discuss the primary causes of abnormal uterine bleeding, including issues relating to the endometrium, the HPO axis, and hemostasis. Finally, we discuss herbs that can be used to support people who are experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding by working on several mini-case studies. All herbal recommendations from the group will be compiled on a Google doc for future reference.

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Healthy Aging: What the Best Science has Taught us About Staying Young Longer

In this class, we discuss the major challenges of aging, according to rapidly-expanding science to set the stage. Next, we review the latest scientific links between diet, supplementation, and the regular or daily use of anti-inflammatory and immune supporting herbs. The science review includes the latest clinical trials, meta-analyses, and epidemiological studies focused on cognitive and memory decline, cardiovascular health, insulin and glucose balance, and musculoskeletal decline and degeneration. This class is clinically-focused and includes what to share with your clients and use in your daily life for your own healthy aging practice, and as an inspiration for others.

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Herbal Approaches to Addiction

This class explores the current medical thought on the causes of addiction as well as the medical approaches to treatment. Then we look at possible energetic approaches to effective treatment and the common herbal combinations to assist in withdrawal and long-term success. We also explore the most common addictions such as tobacco, alcohol, and others.

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Herbal Support Through Abortion: Holistic and Integrative Care within the Medical System Approach

This class explores the historical and current context of abortion care and the risks, side effects and benefits of clinical and medical abortion. From a clinician perspective, we cover many of the ways that herbs can help support the body before, during and after abortion. This class will not include information about how to induce abortion. The material presented is through a trans-inclusive, trauma-informed and anti-colonial lens.

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Herbs and Hormones: Interactions and Support

When taking hormones and herbs concurrently, there are many important factors to consider.  This class explores herbal considerations with exogenous hormone supplementation and gender-affirming cross-sex hormone replacement therapy, including both contraindications and supports. We also cover estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, androgen blockers, liver enzymes, estrogen receptors, herbs that can increase or decrease effects of the hormones or reduce risks and side effects, and energetic support.

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Herbs for Cognition & Focus

Perk up your brain (and those of your clients) with familiar and exotic easy-to-grow medicinal herbs! Drawing from the latest research, tradition, and her experience as a clinician and gardener, Maria will introduce you to impressive and safe herbs for cognition, memory, focus, and attention. Some of these herbs begin to work within just one hour and all can be taken as long-term brain tonics.

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Hypertension: Integrating Pulse Diagnosis and Blood Pressure Readings for Constitutional and Pathological Progression Assessment

Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure have been the primary values in assessing blood pressure health. Increasing studies show that Mean Arterial Pressure and Pulse Pressure offer critical insights into the progression and the type of hypertension. TCM pulse diagnosis completes the picture differentiating pulse qualities of the different types of hypertension. In this class we discuss four types of hypertension and its differing pulse qualities, as well as their relationship to underlying constitution representation.

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Improving Outcomes of Your FDA Audit

This workshop gives the small herbal business model the tools to prepare, handle, and respond to an FDA inspection. Kristen McPhee, Operations Manager of Four Elements Organic Herbals, shares her experience with the FDA, including how she views challenges as opportunities to grow and improve.

Whether you’re currently running an herbal business or thinking of beginning one, this workshop provides the tools for meeting FDA compliance.

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Inflammation, Anxiety and Climate Change: The Importance of the School of Heat

With Chinese medicine, there is a longstanding understanding that what's happening in the world and culture around us influences our health. Using the Wen Bing/School of Heat, we discuss the connection between inflammation and overstimulation within us and the rapid overheating of the planet through global warming. We also discuss the use of western herbs, diet and lifestyle to treat the numerous symptoms associated with heat, including pain and anxiety

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Integrating Herbal Medicine into the Current System

A practical and philosophical class on how herbalists fit into our current medical system, and the relevancy of herbal medicine from both a patient and practitioner perspective. In this class, we discuss how herbalists can work in healthcare settings increasing the availability of herbal medicine and look at obstacles that herbalists face working with differing medical paradigms.This class also invites input from participants to further discussion.

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Keynote: The Evolution of Herbal Medicines in the Modern Clinical Setting

Join Dr. Christopher Hobbs for his keynote address: The Evolution of Herbal Medicines in the Modern Clinical Setting on Friday, October 11, 2019, from 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM.

Chris Hobbs weaves together the historical and present day uses of ten well-known herbs by tracing their specific uses from ancient times to modern herbal practice. He explores the role science now plays in fostering a wider acceptance of herbal medicines by mainstream practitioners, clinics and hospitals, and how this benefits the practice of herbalism.

Chris argues that while scientific research often narrows the specific focus of indications over the centuries, herbal medicine remains ‘The People’s Medicine’ by virtue of the fact that the earth continues to provide us with a multitude of herbs. Free of the hegemony and greed inherent in pharmaceutical-based medicine, herbalism offers real solutions for modern health care that we can share with our communities.

Dr. Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D., L.Ac., RH (AHG),  is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, herbal clinician, research scientist, consultant to the dietary supplement industry, expert witness, botanist, and mycologist with over 35 years of experience.

The author or co-author of over 20 books, Christopher lectures on herbal medicine worldwide. He earned his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, with research and publication in evolutionary biology, biogeography, phylogenetics, plant chemistry, and ethnobotany.

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Managing Chronic Pain & Inflammation

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined and is the most common cause for long-term disability. Herbs, diet, and lifestyle therapies can manage and sometimes eliminate chronic pain with numerous side benefits. Learn different approaches for overall inflammation, muscle pain, nerve pain, joint pain, and other patterns so you can develop targeted yet multifaceted plans for the individual based on research and tradition.

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Mentoring Students in the Process of Assessment

Helping students find the roots, patterns, signs and clues to make accurate assessments is a related but different skillset than assessing our own clients. Drawing from a decade mentoring many students in clinical supervision with a definite focus on assessment, in this class we discuss ways to help students learn the deductive processes that distill information gathered in the intake into clear clinical assessments.

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Mushroom Spirit Medicine

In this class we focus on the healing benefits of fungi as spiritual guides, including the history of use of both psilocybin species and Amanita muscaria in a traditional setting. We also review exciting new research showing that the use of psilocybin in a clinical setting can strongly reduce or even eliminate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and addiction. Some participants in these studies report profound and lasting spiritual awakenings. The historical and current shamanistic uses of Amanita muscaria are discussed as well as its history in folklore, as a possible origin of the Santa Claus legend, and more.

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Navigating Depression as a Tool of Transformation

Physiologically, depression can be related to liver and kidney deficiency or simply stagnation. This class follows the seasons according to TCM and looks at the energetics that deeply affect our state of mind. We discuss plant medicines to help our physiology support a balanced mind. How do we honor the reality of this state that is on the rise and is ofttimes the appropriate response to a traumatized world?

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Nurturing and Healing the Nervous System & Brain

This class investigates ways to employ herbs, aromatherapy, nutrition, and lifestyle to help heal and strengthen the nervous system. These remedies bring natural balance in a holistic context to a nervous system that is over-activated or to one that is sluggish. Included are varied clinical approaches, diagnostics, and protocols that address fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, mental fog, adrenal ‘exhaustion,’ stress, nervousness, addiction, PTS, neurotoxin exposure, brain health and, of course, chronic nervous system disorders. A section is devoted to eliminating and releasing pain, including fibromyalgia. We also look at the special considerations and approaches when treating a nervous system client and explore how we carry past trauma consciously, subconsciously, and in our DNA.

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Our Internal Ecology

Much of our immune and nervous systems live in our digestive tract and are in close communion with our commensal microbes. In this class we cover basic gut physiology and discuss how our microbes feed us, protect us, teach us, and communicate. We also look at how we can use an ecological model to help support our microbes with herbs and diet.

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PERCOLATIONS-Advanced Medicine Making

This class will teach the advanced technique of percolation for making high-quality tinctures! Percolation allows you to make stronger medicine in less time than traditional methods. It is a process that must be seen, rather than read about, in order to do yourself. This hands-on demonstration sets you on your way! Caty has made hundreds of gallons of tincture using this technique and can guide you through the process and the potential pitfalls.

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Plant Walk with a Clinical Focus

This field walk focuses on the medicinal plants that grow around the conference center in Bethesda, MD. We discuss their various medicinal qualities and some of the ways they can be applied clinically by the practicing herbalist. We also look at their botanical structures and discuss ways of gathering and preparing these plants as medicine.

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Plant walk: Medicine and connection in the Urban Landscape

Walk with a local herbalist to explore the medicines thriving in cities and suburbs. We cover how to identify and use a handful of the most common city plants, talk about the unique considerations for practicing herbalism in the urban landscape, and touch on how to encourage connection to plants for clients who do not have access to wild spaces.

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PolyVagal Theory as an Assessment tool in a Trauma Informed Herbal Practice

Many herbalists today provide compassionate holistic care to communities and countries impacted by natural disasters, violent conflicts, poverty, trauma and barriers to health and wellness.  To provide the best herbal practices to these populations, it is important to understand trauma and how it affects the human nervous system.  In this class, we focus on understanding PolyVagal Theory and its value in assessing and supporting our clients who have been traumatized.

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Proving Efficacy: Developing and Implementing a Clinical Trial for An Herbal Formula

Gaia Herbs is in the process of conducting an efficacy clinical trial for a new formula (Calm ASAP) in partnership with Bastyr University. In this lecture we discuss the process of developing and implementing a small-scale herbal clinical trial, along with study design, rational, process of implementation, and other considerations. Review includes pit falls and lessons learned throughout this process.

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Qi & Blood Stagnation: An Energetic Pattern with Clinical Application

The pattern of stagnation has been recognized by various traditions throughout the centuries and is characterized by excess and toxicity; both physiologically and emotionally. The effects of qi and blood stagnation in particular have contributed to some of the most pressing health issues we struggle with today.
This class explores these basic concepts of stagnation, as well as their clinical presentations, and therapeutic approaches to support balance in the body.

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Reproductive Health Treatment Protocols & Diagnostics with Menstrual Cycle Charting

This class discusses menstrual cycle charting, a tool for practitioners to assess reproductive pathologies with their clients and manage these conditions. Within the cycle chart, we can identify follicular and luteal phase pathologies. We also explore the complexity of the differential diagnoses of hormonal pathologies utilizing symptoms and analyzing cycle charts, as well as diving into mechanism of action for specific botanicals, so that you can develop effective treatment protocols for your client.

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Skills for the Critical Assessment of Herbal Research in Clinical Practice

This class seeks to explain, in simple terms, the different forms of scientific research commonly referenced in herbal medicine and provide guidance on how to discern the relevance of such research regarding the safe and effective use of medicinal herbs in both self-care and clinical settings.

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The Herbalist’s Approach to SIBO

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) can be targeted with dietary and herbal strategies. In this class, learn how to identify the illness in patients, evaluate lab testing, and employ diet and herbs to address the disease.

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The Mighty Calamus

Will Endres shares his first-hand experience with the heroic herb Calamus, which includes a broad knowledge of its medicinal uses and local traditions, as well as its worldwide ethno-botanical history and appearance in literature. While weaving a tale of his intimate relationship with this unique herb, Will discusses identification, sustainable harvesting, and methods of cultivation.

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Tongue Assessment for Western Herbalists

Traditional assessments help us refine our protocols, offering vital information about qualities such as moisture, temperature, tension, tissue integrity, nourishment and vitality. Tongue assessment is especially useful for understanding the state of the digestive system, but also serves as a reflection of our integrated physiology. This class provides an accessible introduction using familiar concepts, so that participants leave with a dynamic, effective tool that they can apply in their practices right away.

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Treating the Five Spirits: Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine

There is a well-developed history in Chinese medicine of understanding and treating spiritual sickness. Using the Five Element/Wu Xing tradition, we discuss the Five Spirits and how they manifest in health and sickness. In particular, we discuss how the spiritual parts of our lives manifest when they are in excess and deficient states and the use of western herbs, diet and lifestyle to both treat imbalance and promote spiritual well-being.

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Yarrow: An Herb for the Ages

Yarrow, while commonly used for injuries, has a very long and rich history as a remedy for a wide assortment of clinical siituations. This class will provide an in-depth look into the history, legend, phytochemistry, and clinical applications of this common but powerful herb.

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