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Herbal Medicine


The purpose of the Herbal Medicine component of the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree program is to ensure competency in the appropriate use of Chinese herbs. The coursework covers over 300 individual herbs and 150 herbal formulas. Students are provided with sufficient knowledge enabling them to use Chinese herbs in the practice of Oriental medicine. Students will learn to prescribe and formulate correctly an herbal medicine treatment; to determine an effective herbal formula based upon the diagnosis; and to assess the effectiveness of the herbal treatment strategy and its execution.


This course is designed to train students in the following:

  • Introduction to Oriental Herbal Medicine
    • Development of Herbal Medical Systems throughout the Orient
    • History of the Development of Oriental Herbal Medicine in the United States
    • Legal and Ethical Considerations of Herbal Medicine
  • Basic Herbal Medicine Theory
    • Plant-Part Terminology and Significance to Usage
    • Herbal Properties, e.g., Concepts of Herbal Categories, Taste, Temperature, Entering Meridians
    • Methods of Preparation, i.e., Dried, Honey-Baked
    • Methods of Delivery, e.g., Decoction, Topical, Timing
    • Laws of Combining, including Common Contraindications, Prohibitions, Precautions
    • Methods of Treatment, i.e., Induce Sweat, Clearing, Harmonize
  • Herbal Treatment Strategies
    • Methods and Systems for Planning, Carrying Out and Evaluating a Treatment
    • Herb Formula Differentiation and Modifications for Various Patterns of Disharmony
    • Chinese Herbal Medicine Protocols applied to Patients with a Biomedical Diagnosis
  • Materia Medica - Instruction in a Minimum of 300 Different Herbs
    • Categories: Functions and Meaning
    • Visual Identification including Differing Methods of Cutting
    • Temperature, Taste, and Entering Meridians
    • Taxonomy and Nomenclature
    • Chinese Names: Functions, Actions, Herbal Dosages; Specific Contraindications for each Herb
    • Developments in Herbal Research; Classical and Current Developments
    • Endangered Species and Substitutions for them
  • Herb Formulas - Instruction in a Minimum of 150 Formulas
    • Traditional Formula Categories, Functions and Actions; Classical and New Developments
    • Meanings of the Traditional Chinese Formula Names
    • Specific Contraindications for Each Formula and Current Developments in Formula Research
    • Composition and Proportion of Individual Herbs in Each Formula, Modification of Formulas
    • Patient Education Regarding Administration, Potential Side Effects, Preparation, Storage of Formulas
    • Prepared Herbal Formulations: Modifications and Format of Delivery
  • Food Therapy and Nutrition
    • Categorization of Foods with Regard to Temperature, Taste, and Function
    • Dietary Advice for Various Conditions and Preparation of Common Food/ Herbal Recipes
  • Clinical Internship and Herbal Dispensary
    • Clinical Internship in which Students Interview, Diagnose and write Appropriate Herbal Formulae – Moving from Complete Supervision to Independent Formula Development
    • Standards of Cleanliness in a Herbal Dispensary and Storage of Herbs (Raw And Prepared Formulas), Covering Issues of Spoilage and Bugs
    • Practice in the Filling of Herbal Formulas in a Dispensary Setting
    • Western Science for Herbal Medicine
    • Botany, Non-Botanical and Horticulture (e.g., Changes in the Characteristics of Herbs Due to Environmental Factors) as they Pertain to Herbal Medicine
    • General Principles of Pharmacognosy: (a) Biochemical Components of Herbs and Natural Substances (b) Considerations of Pharmaceutical Interactions Referenced to Current Texts

Through this course students will acquire professional competency in:
  • Diagnosis / Energetic Evaluations
    • Identifying the Position, Nature and Cause of Dysfunction, Disorder, Disharmony, and Constitution
    • Evaluation Based on the 13 Concepts plus Knowledge of Distinctive Patterns of Herbal Combinations and Recognition of Medical Emergencies
  • Planning and Executing an Herbal Treatment
    • Identification of Most Commonly Used Raw and Prepared Substances in Materia Medica
    • Use of Common Foods as Healing Modalities
    • Properties of Substances in Materia Medica: Taste, Temperature, Entering Meridians, Actions and Clinical Applications, Identification of Common Biochemical Constituents and Dosage Guideline
    • Contraindications of Individual Herbs: Toxicity, Traditional and Biochemical, Rules of Combination, Effect of Preparation; Dosage Variance; and Possible Side Effects
    • Traditional Strategies of Herbal Formulation: Sweating (Sudorific), Clearing, Ejecting (Emetic), Precipitating (Purgative), Harmonizing, Warming, Supplementing (Tonic), and Dispersing.
    • Composition of Formulas: Hierarchy of Ingredients, Internal Dynamics of Ingredients, Changes in Hierarchy of Ingredients by Modification of Ingredients or Dosage
    • Formula Preparation and Administration: Dosage, Timing, Frequency, Duration, Extraction Times, etc.
    • Indications and Functions of Representative Herbal Formulas
    • Selection, Modification, and Development of Formulas Consistent with the Pattern of Disharmony and Treatment Plan
    • Current Types of Prepared Formulations Available (Pills, Powder, Tincture, etc.); Dosage Variances, Side Effects and Toxicity Associated with Usage, Timing, Frequency, Duration, Extraction Times, Understanding the Issues Surrounding Non-Traditional Additives to Prescriptions
    • Selection of the Appropriate Modality or Modalities for Treatment: Acupuncture, Herbs, Oriental Manual Therapy, Exercise, Breathing Therapy, and Diet Counseling
    • Consultation with Patient Regarding Treatment Plan, Side Effects, Outcomes, and Healing Process
    • Biomedical Considerations of Herbal Preparations: Contraindications, Drug Interactions, etc.
  • Understanding Professional Issues Related to Oriental Herbs
    • Ethical Considerations with Respect to Prescribing and Selling Herbs to Patients
    • How and When to Consult and Refer with Appropriate Biomedical or Allied Health Practitioners Regarding Drug Interactions and Herbal Therapy
    • The Appropriate Management, Care, and Storage of Herbs and Herbal Products


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