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Medicinal Herbs

Course CodeBHT227
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn how to Grow and Use Medicinal Herb Plants

Medicinal herbs have been used by man for thousands of years. Even today, many societies around the world still make great use of medicinal herbs from knowledge which has been passed down from generation to generation. All plants regarded as medicinal herbs contain phytochemicals which have an effect of the body.

Build your herb knowledge

This fully immersive course provides students with knowledge on a broad range of herbal plants including how to grow them and what they can be used for. You also learn about general growing requirements for medicinal herbs including soils, watering, fertilising, and pest and disease control. Discover a brief history of medicinal herbs and find out how to prepare various herbal remedies. You even get to develop your own production plan for a herbal crop of your choice.

Lessons cover: Introduction to Medicinal Herbs; Culture of Medicinal Herbs; History; Main Medicinal Herbs; Herbal Remedies; Preparing Herbal remedies; Poisonous Plants; Developing a Production Plan.

 

ACS Student comment: "The Medicinal Herbs course has been an invaluable experience and reference towards doing Naturopathy at University. The tutors are very approachable and informed, the course structure is very well laid out and the enclosed texts and information will be a very useful reference in years to come. Without going to University these courses, in particular Medicinal Herbs, are some of the only other quality information that one can receive at a very reasonable price and a very flexible study structure." (Matthew, Medicinal Herbs)

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Medicinal Herbs
    • Scope and Nature of Herbal Medicine
    • Being Cautious
    • Growing and Knowing Medicinal Herbs
    • Accurate Plant Naming
    • Pronouncing Plant Names
    • Finding Reliable Resources
  2. Culture of Medicinal Herbs
    • What is a Herb
    • Soils and Nutrition
    • Cultivation
    • Fertilizing Herbs
    • Compost, Mulch, Watering
    • Propagation
    • Pest and Disease
  3. History
    • Introduction
    • Hippocrates
    • Chinese Herbalists
    • Egyuptian Influence
    • Greek Influences
    • The Dark Ages
    • German and English Herbals
    • Other Influences
  4. Main Medicinal Herbs
    • Introduction and Varieties to Grow
    • Production Plan
    • Improving Soil Fertility
    • Cover Crops and Legumes
    • Cultivation, Growing Methods, Compost
    • Growing and using Ginger
    • Garlic Culture
    • Echinacea Culture
  5. Herbal Remedies
    • Alternatives
    • Anthelmintic
    • Astringents
    • Bitter Tonics
    • Calmatives
    • Carminatives and Aromatics
    • Cathartics
    • Diaphoretics
    • Dietetics
    • Demulcents
    • Emollients
    • Expectorants
    • Nervines
    • Relaxants
    • Vulnerary Herbs
    • Common Herbs with Medicinal Properties
    • Nervines as Healing Agents
    • Natural Chemicals in Plants and their Affect on Health; saponins, phenolglycosides, anthraglycosides, flavonoids, mustard oils, polysaccharides, prussic acid, glycosides, coumarin, tannins, bitters, essential oils, alkaloids, purines, essential minerals
    • Chemistry of Herbs
    • Herbal Sources for Human Nutrients
  6. Preparing Herbal Remedies
    • Infusion
    • Decoction
    • Poulice
    • Medical Preparations
    • Problem of Accurately Formulating Herbal Medicines
    • How herbalists used to work
    • The Difference Today
    • Harvesting Material for Herbal Preparations
    • Post Harvest Handling of Herbs
    • Post Harvest Preservation; Fresh, Modified Atmospere Packaging
    • Herbal Preparations for Teas, Rinses and Baths
    • Producing Essential Oils; Water distilation, Steam distilation
    • Uses for Eucalyptus Oil
  7. Poisonous Plants
    • Introduction
    • Review of Plant Poisons
    • Hazardous Herbs
    • Carcinogens, Potosensitizers, Allergens, Hormone Like Affects, Teratogens, Respiratory Inhibitors, etc
    • Toxic Plant Constituents
  8. Developing a Production Plan
    • Managing a Market Garden
    • Deciding What to Grow
    • Production Planning
    • Types of Problems
    • Standards
    • Crop Schedules
    • Farming Medicinal Herbs
    • Production Requirements for Different Herbs

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Distinguish between medicinal herbs in cultivation including twenty-five different genera and fifty different varieties.
  • Discuss the history of medicinal herb usage.
  • Compare the chemical components of different medicinal herbs in terms of their general affect on the human body.
  • Prepare simple and safe herbal remedies in a domestic situation.
  • Explain the potential dangers involved in dealing with plants.
  • Prepare a schedule of cultural practices for a medicinal herb crop.
  • Develop a production plan for a medicinal herb crop.

What You Will Do

  • Define the term "medicinal herb" according to both horticultural and naturopathic meanings.
  • Compile a resource file of fifty different sources of information regarding medicinal herbs.
  • Distinguish between fifteen different plant families which common medicinal herbs belong to.
  • Prepare a plant collection of fifty different medicinal herb varieties.
  • List ten different medicinal herbs which were often used more than one hundred years ago, but are no longer commonly used.
  • Identify modern trends in the use of herbs in medicines in your country.
  • Discuss the role of home remedies in modern society.
  • Discuss the role of the naturopath in modern society.
  • Summarise the history of medicinal herbs since early civilisation, to modern times.
  • Explain the characteristics of different types of chemicals found in medicinal herbs.
  • Write brief definitions to explain the mode of action of different herbal medicines.
  • Write an essay describing the chemical actions which two different herbs have upon the human body.
  • Explain various factors which can influence the effectiveness of active constituents of a herb.
  • List herbal remedies derived from forty different commonly grown herbs.
  • Identify the morphological parts of fifteen different herbs which are used medicinally.
  • Explain thoroughly how to prepare six different types of simple medicines, including a:
    • Poultice
    • Infusion
    • Decoction
    • Tincture.
  • Develop a list of safety procedures to follow when preparing a given herbal medicine.
  • Explain methods to administer six different herbal medicines which are safe and appropriate for an unskilled person to make and use at home. (ie. medicines which do not have any dangerous risks if prepared or administered incorrectly).
  • Describe, in summaries, twelve commonly occurring plants which contain poisonous substances, including:
    • names (botanical and common)
    • dangerous parts of the plant
    • poisonous substances
    • mode of action of poison
    • remedy (if any).
  • List five herbs that should never be taken internally.
  • List five herbs which should never be used by pregnant women.
  • List three herbs which should never be used by children.
  • Describe, including at least two specific examples, precautions when dealing with unknown herb materials.
  • Develop guidelines for the culture of a specified variety of medicinal herb.
  • Explain natural pest and disease control methods for five medicinal herb varieties.
  • Prepare a sample of soil suitable for growing a specified herb variety in the open ground.
  • Demonstrate propagation techniques for five different medicinal herbs.
  • Produce container plants of two different medicinal herbs, propagating and growing on the plants to a marketable stage and condition.
  • Record the development of two medicinal herbs in a log including a summary of the condition of the plant, growth, and cultural practices carried out.
  • Develop a list of criteria for selecting the most commercially viable variety of a nominated medicinal herb species available.
  • List thirty different varieties of a medicinal herb species which are readily available for purchase as "reliable" seed or tubestock.
  • Compare different varieties of six nominated medicinal herb species to determine a commercially viable variety to grow in your locality.
  • List tasks to be undertaken in the production of a selected medicinal herb variety, including:
    • soil preparation
    • planting
    • growing practices
    • harvest and post harvest.
  • Write a production schedule for a medicinal herb variety which designates tasks to be undertaken systematically at each stage of crop development.
  • Explain the facilities which would be required to produce a specified commercial medicinal herb crop, including:
    • equipment
    • materials
    • land.
  • Estimate the cost of producing a specified medicinal herb crop, itemising the cost components into at least five categories.

SCOPE AND POTENTIAL IS LARGELY UNTAPPED

Medicinal herbs are plants which contain chemicals that have a healing effect on the human body.

The potential is huge, but our knowledge of the bioactive constituents of plants is limited. A relatively small proportion of plants are known well, but most hold secrets that are largely still to be discovered. In fact there are still many plants to be discovered too; there is believed to be thousands of medicinal plant species growing in the rainforests of the world.

Scientists working in the jungles of South America are uncovering previously unknown species regularly many of which are thought to have medicinal qualities. These plants may hold the key to cures for many serious ailments and diseases.

Hundreds of thousands of different plants are cultivated in our gardens; and more than half of those species are known to contain chemicals that affect the human body. Many are toxic. Some can be ingested in small but not large quantities. Others are thought to be perfectly safe.

Pharmaceuticals that are used in modern medicine include drugs that are derived from medicinal plants. Medical research that is undertaken will often be based upon extracts from medicinal herbs.

Consider just one herb- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Family: Lamiaceae
Common Name: Thyme, Garden Thyme, German Thyme
Origin: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.

Appearance: These are low-growing woody shrubs to 30cm tall. They have tiny oval shaped, grey-green leaves and white or mauve flowers.

Culture: These plants are relatively hardy once established. Grow in full or filtered sun. They prefer a well-drained but moist soil, and respond well to mulching. Water plants regularly in warm weather.

Parts used:
Foliage and oil.

Chemistry: The chief components of thyme are the phenolic compounds, carvacrol and thymol. Thyme oil also contains menthone, borneol, and linalool. Other ingredients are p-cymol, cymene, thymene, a-pinene, apigenin, luteolin, 6-hydroxyluteolin glycosides, and various methoxylated flavones.  

Uses: It may be used to soothe the throat and bronchial irritations. It may be used as a diaphoretic to promote sweating at the beginning of colds.  Thyme extract has been used orally to treat dyspepsia and other gastrointestinal disturbances. It should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. The oil has also been known to cause contact dermatitis in some users.

Properties: Diaphoretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative.  

What This Course Could Do For You

This course is likely to be of value to people who have a keen interest in herbal plants and medicine. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in herbs. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Nurseries
Horticulture
Parks & gardens
Herbal industries
Herbal medicine
Herb farms

The course will also be of value to people wishing to start a herb farm business.



Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.


Check out our eBooks

Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmThis is both a guide to “how to propagate plants” as well as an exploration of the possibility of starting a small nursery or herb business that could eventually grow into a blossoming business! It's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. Since it was first published by “Grass Roots” in 1981, we have lost count of the hundreds of people who have told us how this book kicked off a successful business or career for them. 63 pages
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more. This book has nine chapters covering the following topics: an introduction to herbs, cultivation, propagation, pest and diseases, herb gardens, an A-Z plant directory, using herbs, features for herb gardens, herbs in pots - 113 colour photos 61 pages
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.