Courses in the Medicinal Plant Program


For a schedule of Fall 2014 courses, click here

FFYS 197/PSIS6 - An Exploration of Medicinal Plants (1 credit) (Fall, Spring)
Although ancient texts and ceremonies indicate plants were used as medicine from the dawn of history, antibiotics and vaccinations developed in first half of the 20th century led conventional medicine to shun plant material for chemically synthesized replacements. Concerns about modern medicine and changes in life style and research during the past 20 years, however, have led to increased interest in using plants and plant extracts as medicine. In this course, we will focus on a series of plants used in modern medicines and/or diets to treat disease and improve health. Both historical and modern applications of the plants as medicines will be explored through class presentations and discussions, looking to the future of medicines from plants.(FRESHMEN ONLY) Lyle Craker

STOCKSCH 280- Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants (4 credits) (Spring)- GenEd Biology course
Introduction to the growth, culture, and science related to the production and use of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. Emphasis on plants used in the home with discussions on bioactivity of plant extracts. Laboratory practice in seeding, growing, oil extraction, and utilization of these plants. Examinations, project and identification of selected herbs. Lecture, lab. Lyle Craker

STOCKSCH 296- Shamanism and the Modern World (2 credits) (Fall/Spring)
This course will look at the Shamanic understanding of the human body, emotional and physical disease, the plant world and methods for healing. It will introduce students to the healing power of plants and methods for developing a spiritual relationship with plants. This course will include an introduction to shamanic ceremony and elements of shamanic energy healing. Email Kristen Avonti. Limited to 25 students.

STOCKSCH 297C - Traditional Herbal Medicine Systems Part I (1 credit) (Fall)
The botanical wisdom accumulated by indigenous people has provided humankind with herbal drugs used in human healthcare for thousands of years.  Systems of herbal medicine have evolved around the world, many with overlapping medical practices and theories of health and disease.  In this course, we will study the history and practices of traditional medicine systems from around the world including traditions from Africa, South America, China, India, and North America.  To better understand how and why certain medicinal plants are used in healthcare, we will study medicinal plant chemistry, plant taxonomy, and plant geography.  Lecture.  No prerequisite.  Nazim Mamedov

STOCKSCH 297D - Traditional Herbal Medicine Systems Part II (1 credit) (Spring)
An examination of indigenous medical systems in the world to understand the choices of herbal medicines used by traditional healers and the similarities and differences in the approach of treatments.  Discussions on herbal medicines used in various societies in the fight against afflictions such as diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal disorders.  An assessment on medicinal plants that possess antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and immune enhancing  activity.  A look at herbal medicines used around the world for improving men’s and women’s health.  Lecture.  No prerequisite (Part I of this course is not necessary for understanding Part II).  Nazim Mamedov

STOCKSCH 297E- Wild Edible Plants (1 credit) (Fall/Spring)
This course will examine more than a dozen species of local plants and trees that be harvested from the wild. The course will focus on plant identification skills, sustainable harvesting, wild crafting and how to process these plants into foods and fibers. Felix Lufkin

STOCKSCH 297J- Clinical Herbalism: Part I (1 credit) (Fall)/ STOCKSCH 297K- Clinical Herbalism: Part II (1 credit) (Spring)
Taught by a practicing clinical herbalist, these courses will cover the traditional understandings of human physiology, health, and sickness, according to Western, Native American, and Chinese health philosophies.  We will discuss how herbal medicine can be used to maintain or restore health and balance within the context of the different health philosophies.  The courses will include a survey of commonly used medicinal plants, understanding the chemistry of the plants and the actions of the plants in human systems.  A major focus of the courses will be the appropriate preparation and applications of different types of medicinal plant extracts.
Lecture.  No prerequisites (Parts I and II of this course can be taken independent of each other).  Chris Marano

STOCKSCH 297W- Herbal Approaches to Women's Health (2 credits) (Spring)
This course will include an extended discussion of the use of medicinal herbs and foods for health and well being through all stages of a woman's life, puberty to menopause. We will cover basic herbal medicine making techniques, cosmetic and health applications and physiological of the female reproductive system.
Practical experiential learning and personal health empowerment will be emphasized. Brittany Wood Nickerson

PLSOILIN 398S Practicum- The Shaman's Pharmacy (Amazon Field Immersion Course) (3 credits) (Summer/Winter)
Amazon Shamanic Medicine provides a unique, intensive exploration of the plant-based medicines of Amazon rainforest, a body of knowledge derived from shamans who are considered among the most capable of natural healers alive today. The course involves on-campus classes, and eleven days of travel and intensive study in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. The trip to Amazonia is held at ExplorNapo, a lodge and learning facility set in primary rainforest along the Rio Napo in Peru. of field experience. The ExplorNapo facilities include access to experienced Amazon guides, boats for venturing deeper up rivers and into the forest, a medicinal plant garden developed by ethnobotanist Dr. James Duke, and easy access to the Canopy Walkway operated by the Amazon Center for Tropical Studies. Lecture and practicum.
Chris Kilham and Nathaniel Putnam

Independent Study in Medicinal Plants (1-6 credits) STOCKSCH 596 or STOCKSCH 396, 396H, 496
Students interested in the agricultural production, medicinal utilization, or social aspects of medicinal plants are encouraged to consider an independent study project.  Students may pursue their own research interests or study under the guidance of a researcher in the Medicinal Plant Program. Lyle Craker


Courses of interest in the Department of Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences

PLSOILIN 100 Botany for Gardners 4 credits
PLSOILIN 102 Intro Botany 4 credits
PLSOILIN 120 Organic Farming and Gardening 3 credits
PLSOILIN 185 Sustainable Living 4 credits
PLSOILIN 265 Sustainable Agriculture 3 credits

Courses of interest in other Departments

ANTHRO 208 Human Ecology 3 credits
BIOCHEM 285 Cell and Molecular Biology 3 credits
BIOLOGY 103 Plant Biology 4 credits
BIOLOGY 426 New England Flora 3 credits
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 4 credits
CHEM 285 Organic Chemistry 3 credits
KIN 100 Human Performance and Nutrition 4 credits
KIN 170 Human Anatomy and Physiology I 3 credits
FOODSCI 101 Food and Health 3 credits
FOODSCI 102 World Food Habits 3 credits
FOODSCI 120 Food Preservation 3 credit
FOODSCI 150 The Science of Food 3 credits
FOODSCI 160 The Nature of Food 3 credits
MICROBIO 160 Biology of Cancer and AIDS 3 credits
MICROBIO 310 General Microbiology 3 credits


Students are encouraged to review the course catalogs of Hampshire College, Smith College, Amherst College, and Mt. Holyoke College for related courses. The Five College Course Catalog can be found here.

Special thanks to Chris Kilham, Zoe Helene, Chris Marano, Zoe Gardner, and Gaia Herbs for the use of the photos.

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