Course Description

As plant workers, we often intuitively know which plants to reach for, but the deeper *why* can sometimes elude us.  How do these complex and intelligent green beings behave in the equally as complex bioscapes of our bodies?  What is the best way to understand their language, to make their their medicine, available to us?  Understanding these pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of plant medicine begins with foundational concepts such as bioavailability, absorption, excretion, and mechanisms of action, as well as understanding the secondary metabolites of plants and fungi.  In this course, you’ll gain a working knowledge of determining actions of plants and fungi by recognizing common constituent classes and understanding how they act in organic living systems.  For each class of constituents, commonly used species will be discussed and you’ll become familiar with each class’s molecular structure and learn how to maximize the potency and bioavailability of your plant medicine by understanding which methods of extraction are best depending on a plant’s constituents.  By the end of the course, you will be able to engage in lively discussions involving pharmacodynamic mechanisms of phytotherapy including tissue-level effects, hepatic effects, extra- and intracellular signaling effects, and epigenetic/gene regulation effects.


The course material will be evidence-based, and supplemental reading will be suggested for furthering your knowledge in the subject.


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

30 hours course total.

All recordings, handouts and resources, are available in the online classroom. 

Guest Instructor

Guido Masé

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

  • 2

    Class 2: Herbal Pharmacology Introduction

    • Introduction - Areas Of Action

    • Herbal Pharmacology Introduction handouts

    • Herbal Pharmacology Introduction handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Herbal Pharmacology Introduction handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Herbal Pharmacology Introduction handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 3

    Class 3: Tannins-Anthraquinones-Mucilage

    • Tannin-Anthraquinone-Mucilage

    • Tannins-Anthraquinones-Mucilage handouts

    • Tannins-Anthraquinones-Mucilage (2 slides per page)

    • Tannins-Anthraquinones-Mucilage (4 slides per page)

    • Tannins-Anthraquinones-Mucilage (6 slides per page)

  • 4

    Class 4: Polysaccharides

    • Polysaccharides

    • Polysaccharides handouts

    • Polysaccharides handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Polysaccharides handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Polysaccharides handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 5

    Class 5: Coumarins

    • Coumarins

    • Coumarin handouts

    • Coumarin handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Coumarin handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Coumarin handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 6

    Class 6: Phytosterols

    • Phytosterols

    • Phytosterols handouts

    • Phytosterols handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Phytosterols handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Phytosterols handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 7

    Class 7: Essential Oils

    • Essential Oils

    • Essential Oils handouts

    • Essential Oils handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Essential Oils handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Essential Oils handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 8

    Class 8: Resins

    • Resins

    • Resins handouts

    • Resins handouts (2 pages per slide)

    • Resins handouts (4 pages per slide)

    • Resins handouts (6 pages per slide)

  • 9

    Class 9: Pungents

    • 09-Pungents

    • Pungents handouts

    • Pungents handouts (2 pages per slide)

    • Pungents handouts (4 pages per slide)

    • Pungents handouts (6 pages per slide)

  • 10

    Class 10: Alkaloids

    • Alkaloids Part I

    • Alkaloids Part II

    • Alkaloids Part III

    • Alkaloids handouts

    • Alkaloids handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Alkaloids handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Alkaloids handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 11

    Class 11: Bitters

    • Bitters

    • Bitters handouts

    • Bitters handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Bitters handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Bitters handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 12

    Class 12: Saponins

    • Saponins

    • Saponins handouts

    • Saponins handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Saponins handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Saponins handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 13

    Class 13: Polyphenols

    • Polyphenols Phytoestrogens Part I

    • Polyphenols - Phytoestrogens Part II

    • Polyphenols handouts

    • Polyphenols handouts (2 slides per page)

    • Polyphenols handouts (4 slides per page)

    • Polyphenols handouts (6 slides per page)

  • 14

    Class 14: Clinical Pharmacognosy 1

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part I

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 1

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 1 (2 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 1 (4 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 1 (6 slides per page)

  • 15

    Class 15: Clinical Pharmacognosy 2

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part II-A

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part II-B

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part II-C

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 2

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 2 (2 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 2 (4 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 2 (6 slides per page)

  • 16

    Class 16: Clinical Pharmacognosy 3

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part III

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 3

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 3 (2 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 3 (4 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 3 (6 slides per page)

  • 17

    Class 17: Clinical Pharmacognosy 4

    • Clinical Pharmacognosy Part IV

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 4

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 4 (2 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 4 (4 slides per page)

    • Clinical pharmacognosy 4 (6 slides per page)

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