Applied Herbal Pharmacology with Guido Masé

Phytochemistry with Guido Masé

taught by Guido Masé

Course description

An understanding of the synergy and relationship between plant actions and constituents, including a deeper exploration of plant chemistry, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Students will begin with an introduction and contextualization of primary and secondary metabolites elaborated by plants and mushrooms, including basic organic functional groups and the concept of reversible reactions and reaction kinetics in stable, reversible organic systems. Bioavailability, absorption, and excretion along with broad classes of known mechanisms of action will be introduced at the beginning of the course, and repeated with specifics for each class of chemical constituent discussed in the later classes. Course material will be evidence-based and outside reading in the literature will be presented for further enrichment. 

Suggested companion text: Mills and Bone, Principles and Practices of Phytotherapy, 2nd edition. 

38 hour course total.

Learning Objectives/Student Outcomes: 

Students will build on their knowledge of major plant constituents, how they affect the body, and how the body metabolizes them. Students will be familiar with representative species for each constituent class, gain fluency with molecular structures, and understand techniques for extraction and delivery that maximize bioavailability. 

Students will gain the ability to discuss multiple pharmacodynamics mechanisms, including tissue-level effects, hepatic effects, extracellular and intracellular signaling effects, and epigenetic / gene regulation effects. Students will be able to describe bioavailability and suggest mechanisms of action for the herbs and constituents covered in the class.


Class Organic chemistry and reactions: molecules, reaction kinetics, organic functional groups 3h

Class Major organic chemical classes: macronutrients and secondary metabolites 3h

Class Pharmacology: pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics introduction 3h

Class Review of how classical herbal actions relate to phytochemistry 2h

Class mucilages and tannins 2h

Class anthraquinones 1h

Class coumarins 1h

Class simple phenylpropanoic acids

Class bitters 3h

Class alkaloids 3hClass pungents 2h

Class flavonoids + polyphenols 3h

Class aromatics resins 3h

Class immune-active polysaccharides 2h

Class saponins phytosterols 3h

Class formulation and blending considerations 3h



Guido Masé
Guido Masé
Guest Instructor

Guido is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, though his approach is eclectic and draws upon many influences. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. After traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996.

He is a founder, faculty member and clinical supervisor at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, a non-profit herbal medicine clinic and school that provides comprehensive services focused on whole plants and whole foods. He serves as chief herbalist for the Urban Moonshine Natural Products Company, where he works on research, development and quality control for an all-organic whole-plant tincture line, offers education in herbal medicine, and houses his clinical practice. He participates in herbal education at the University of Vermont, and is the author of The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter and Tonic Plants (Healing Arts Press, 2013).

His experience also includes working on research, development, education and quality control for Urban Moonshine, an herbal extract company focused on high-quality organic formulations; teaching botanical medicine to a variety of audiences ranging from the very young to herbal conference attendees, apprentices, and medical students; and working with clients one-on-one to discover ways to support and enhance health using whole plants and whole foods.

Guido’s teaching style focuses on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology. He has a constant eye on the amazing beauty such study reveals: at any level, and in many different “languages”, herbs mirror people, the plant and animal kingdoms grew up together as complements. Such a relational awareness provides meaning and context, critical elements to understanding and healing. At home, he spends time with his wife Anne and daughter Uli. 

He enjoys cooking and eating with family and friends, writing on topics in herbal medicine and human physiology, playing music, and experimenting with distillates and novel herbal formulae. Time alone is usually spent running on road and trail (often in the very early morning). Occasionally he will race a marathon.

Guido works clinically and teaches as a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, and is a part of United Plant Savers and the American Botanical Council.

Course Curriculum