The 1st year curriculum offers a comprehensive introduction to the art and science of herbal medicine, and stands as a strong foundation for further studies or as a basis for effective and knowledgeable home practice. The class blends science with tradition, offering a holistic focus on supporting healthy function. Fundamentals of
traditional herbalism that have evolved in North America underpin the course content, though the approach is eclectic and integrates herbal and holistic principles and practices from throughout the world.
View or download the pdf of the foundational year booklist: ArborVitae Foundational Year Booklist
View or download the pdf of the foundational year Materia Medica: ArborVitae Foundational Year Materia Medica
History and Philosophy of Herbal Medicine
The class provides an overview of the history and philosophy of herbal practices throughout the world, with a focus on more recent history in Europe and U.S. Lessons include an introduction to core concepts of a diversity of approaches to herbal medicine.
Body Systems and BioScience
Students study a 20 hour Anatomy and Physiology for Herbalists online. Much of the course material throughout the year is guided by the framework of the different systems of the body, and will be connected to herbal actions and affinities. Along with physiology, we present basic pathology and a holistic understanding relating to the body’s systems: cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary, endocrine, lymphatic, immune, reproductive, nervous, musculo-skeletal, and cutaneous will be covered in depth.
Botanical Materia Medica
Over 60 medicinal plants and mushrooms are reviewed in depth, including plants & fungi that grow in North America as well as medicinal herbs from other regions. Teachers introduce students an abundance of other botanicals throughout the curriculum. Students will build their own materia medica based on their studies, and will learn about herbal monographs and components: Latin name, common name, botanical information, herbal actions, energetics, system affinities, current and historical uses, specific indications, and herbal toxicity and safety.
Traditional Herbalism and Holistic Assessment
The class provides a survey of various holistic approaches to healing. It focuses on the traditions of herbalism that have evolved in the U.S. incorporating Western European/ Greek systems, tissue states, Vitalist and Eclectic concepts, folk traditions, as well as the use of Native American plants and wisdom adopted from Native traditions. We also provide a comprehensive introduction to concepts and energetics in Arurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Basic concepts from other healing traditions throughout the world will be introduced as well. Energetics, actions, and flavors, as well as specific signs and patterns are covered. Course content includes basic assessment tools like ways to gather information from tissue states, pulse and tongue.
Herbal Apothecary: Gathering, Preparation and Use
The curriculum reviews various types of herbal preparation, including how, why, and when to use different forms of herbal medicine. Students learn about the ethics of wildcrafting, and methods for harvesting, drying, and preparing roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and mushrooms into various herbal remedies, and receive hands-on in-depth lessons in the preparation of:
♦ Tea infusions decoctions ♦ Tinctures / liquid extracts ♦ Powders (cooked & raw herbs) ♦ Oxymels, herbal vinegars ♦ Topical: salves, ointments, creams,poultices, linaments ♦ Herbal oils /fats (internal & external) ♦ Medicinal food preparation: herb broths, herbal preserves
We also present introductory information about the preparation and use of other forms of herbal medicine including:
♦ Succus ♦ Syrups, herbal honey ♦ Suppositories ♦ Flower essences ♦ Homeopathy ♦ Essential oils / aromatherapy ♦ Herbal baths and soaks ♦ Herbal douches & enemas ♦ Herbal nasal irrigation ♦ smoke and inhalants ♦ Herbal skin care: hydrosols, lotion, scrubs ♦ Topical: plasters
Students also learn the basics of formulation and management of a personal apothecary.
Botany and Plant Identification
As an important part of the first year program, students are exposed to a survey of botanical science to inform the connection between healing and the physical plant world. Field botany includes identification skills, plant families, classification, and structure. The Doctrine of Signatures and other traditional concepts are interwoven with class material.
A number of class days in fall and spring are spent outside on field trips in the wilds of New York City and beyond the city. Botany, plant ID, basics of herb cultivation, wild crafting and wild food foraging will be covered out in the field.
Herbs in the Cycles of Life
Each period of life has special considerations, challenges and needs. The curriculum integrates herb considerations and wellness practices, along with nutrition and flower essences, for supporting healthy infancy and childhood, puberty, fertility, pregnancy and elder years.
Herbs as Food and Food as Medicine
Traditional foods and nutrition are prominent among course material. Students learn of Aruvedic nutritional principles, specific foods for the various organ systems and for common ailments. In addition to traditional nutrition, students are exposed to nutritive constituents such as vitamins and minerals, as well as secondary compounds, and their roles in healthy body functions. Ways to incorporate both tonic and medicinal plants into meals are explored along with wild food gathering and preparation, and principles of traditional & medicinal food preparation.
Herbal Therapeutics: Properties, Actions and Chemistry
Various aspects of the curriculum highlight the importance of plant tastes: bitter, sweet, pungent, sour and savory, which are considered in their properties and applications. Plant actions, phytochemistry, introduction to herbal constituents, and whole plant poly-pharmacy (synergy versus standardization) are taught.
The first year program includes lessons on dealing with acute injuries using holistic and herbal protocols. Students are introduced to methods for assessing the extent of injuries and applying herbs for basic first aid needs.
Students are introduced to the crucial topics of herbal contraindications, how dosage relates to safety, herb-herb interactions, herb-drug interactions, safety during pregnancy and lactation, and how our current knowledge of phytochemical constituents of plants can inform safe use.
Herbs as Flower Essences
Students are presented with an overview of how and when to use flower essences, as well as their energetic benefits for emotional and mental health. These lessons include consideration of emotional trauma and its effects on physiology.