The GI-Skin-Brain Axis: Exploring the Intricate Connection

Schisandra chinensis
Schisandra chinensis

The human body is a complex and interconnected system, where various organs and systems communicate with each other to maintain homeostasis. An area of research that has gained attention in recent years is the exploration of the GI-Skin-Brain axis. This axis refers to the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal (GI) system, the skin, and the brain.

Increasing evidence shows that an imbalanced gut microbiome can induce inflammatory skin diseases.35 This offers a likely approach for improving skin conditions, by the modulation of the gut microbiome. Understanding the intricate connections within this axis provides valuable insights into addressing the root cause of any dysfunction that may occur here. Continue reading

Ceremonial Use of Herbs by Deborah Frances

ceremonial smudging with sage

Herbalist, naturopath, and much revered teacher and elder, Dr. Bill Mitchell once said, that through the process of photosynthesis, plants just naturally bring light into physical form, making them invaluable allies for those who proceed along a spiritual path. Indeed, I know of no tradition in which plants do not play a part.

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Constitutional Herbal Approach to Anxiety

St. John's Wort

In an ever-changing world it can become a challenge to find our center. Each of us engages with our innate stress response differently, therefore creating many versions of what we term collectively as ‘anxiety’. Anxiety disorders are classified by DSM-V criteria, and categorized by experiencing excessive worry more days than not, restlessness, easy fatigue, difficulty with concentration, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance all with difficulty in controlling any of these symptoms9. Anxiety disorders are often experienced uniquely by the individual with some symptoms remaining constant, others transient and some not present at all. Collectively containing the experience of anxiety into a single set of symptoms is limiting and does not offer a true reflection of the individual process. Ultimately, this may lead to ineffective treatment or improper use of SSRI’s, benzodiazepines and other conventional medications used to treat anxiety disorders simply from a viewpoint of central nervous system sedation. Continue reading

Retraining the Mighty Mast Cells: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance Revisited

rose hips

This article is a part 2 to expand on additional interventions in mast cell regulation. If you didn’t read the original article, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome & Histamine Intolerance: An Herbal Approach discusses different types of mast cell activation syndromes and histamine-related issues. Furthermore, this discussion relates to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and histamine-related symptoms and not mastocytosis. For ease of use, the term “mast cell issues” is used to relate to these conditions throughout the article.

The Mighty Mast Cell Continue reading

Types of Pain and Herbal Management Tools

dried peppers capsaicin

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Environmental Illness Audio Series

Mediterranean salad

An audio series for health care providers – with continuing education for naturopathic physicians – bundled together in one discounted package:

  • Six (6) audio recordings (1.5 – 2.0 hours each)
  • Digital book of notes (110-page PDF)
  • Continuing education credits: 10 hours for naturopathic physicians
  • Order with one-click for $55 ($85 value)

Note: The information in this series is provided as a research resource for health professionals and is not intended to replace diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care practitioner. Continue reading

Botanical Approaches to Manage Chronic Stress


Stress can be rewarding and even pleasant in response to positive stimuli, encouraging intellectual and emotional growth and development. Most often, when we discuss being “stressed out” in a modern context, it is in reference to negative physical or psychological stimuli and an unpleasant reaction. Stress is generally defined as a state of disharmony (allostasis) and is counteracted by physiological and behavioral responses which aim to reestablish homeostasis via the adaptive stress response.1

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Naturopathic Approaches to Weight Management and Obesity Prevention

naturopathic approaches to weight management

Working with patients to manage their weight includes prevention of weight gain, control of age-related gains and treatment of obesity. This requires a broad understanding of many factors, including insulin resistance, environmental toxicants, the gut microbiome and the effect of pharmaceuticals on weight gain. Panelists at the 2021 Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine, naturopathic physicians Marianne Marchese, Katie Stage, and Lise Alschuler, discussed new research, practical naturopathic interventions and specific recommendations for clinical practice. A synopsis of each presentation follows.

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Video Series for Clinicians: Building Immunity

building immunity

A video series for health care providers – with continuing education for naturopathic physicians – bundled together in one discounted package:

  • Six (6) video lectures (1.5 hours each)
  • Digital book of notes (89-page PDF)
  • Continuing education credits for naturopathic physicians
  • Order with one click for $89 ($135 value)

Note: The information in this series is provided as a research resource for health professionals and is not intended to replace diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care practitioner.

Video Series Details
(See below for titles and descriptions of videos)

One click orders all six videos selected from the 2020 conference season (4 videos from Medicines from the Earth and 2 from the Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine), plus an 89-page pdf of notes. Together these provide comprehensive information on the clinical management of immune conditions.

The series begins with an overview of immunity from childhood to the elder years, followed by a more detailed look at the lymph system and the role it plays in immunology.

Specific immune challenges are then addressed, including the influence of estrogen on autoimmunity, managing acute viral respiratory infection, a panel discussion on immune-centered illness and, finally, the latest research on managing COVID-19. (This was recorded in March 2020, just as the pandemic was spreading, so the speaker, Donald Yance, provided an update in August 2020 featuring all the latest research findings. The updated article link is included in the pdf of lecture notes for the series).

Video presentations offer complete clinical information, with the speaker and the PowerPoint playing together in an ideal format for online learning.

(Series price of $89 includes an 89-page PDF of lecture notes.)

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Rosemary, Turmeric, and Lemon Balm

Read the transcript for this video.

Mary Bove, ND was recently asked a question as part of the 2020 Summer Series: “What three herbs would you recommend for study by beginning students of herbalism?” In the video above she listed Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary), Curcuma longa (Turmeric), and Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) as a great place to start. Continue reading

Managing Osteopenia and Osteoporosis with Botanical Medicine

milk thistle
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Our bones are powerful! I’m still amazed sometimes that these hardened structures, allowing for muscle attachments and acting as a scaffold for movement, are indeed very much alive. Right now, as you’re reading this, they are hard at work creating blood cells and maintaining their structure and intricate framework. Continue reading

Prevention of Cognitive Decline as we Age

cognitive decline ginko

This is a summary of the panel discussion at the 2018 Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine with Chanchal Cabrera, RH(AHG), Katie Stage, ND, RH(AHG) and Jill Stansbury, ND, in which they addressed cognitive decline and dementia. In this wide-ranging discussion they covered botanicals and nutritional therapies for prevention, and evaluated the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. Continue reading

Medical Marijuana Education for Clinicians

Medical Marijuana education

Cannabis Therapeutics

An audio series for health care providers –  bundled together in one discounted package:

  • Six (6) audio lectures
  • Digital book of notes (50 page PDF)
  • Order with one click for $55 ($70 value)

Details: These six audio recordings offer the clinician detailed information on prescribing Medical Marijuana, the most appropriate delivery system for specific conditions, possible side effects and interactions. Includes complete references. Features up-to-date information on medicinal uses of Cannabis for pain, cancer, mental health conditions, sleep and more. Includes digital book of lecture notes (50 page PDF).

Naturopathic CE: If CME has not previously been earned for the below lectures (either in person or distance) you can earn 3.5 general and 6.5 pharmacy credits. See more Continuing Education details.

CannabisRecordings included in this series:

Therapeutic Uses of the Cannabinoids and Other Cannabis Compounds, Part 1

Kenneth Proefrock presents his clinical experience using Cannabis therapeutically for a wide range of conditions from seizures, restless leg syndrome and insomnia, to cancer, MS, Parkinsons and chronic pain. Detailed usage information includes prescribing Medical Marijuana as an internal agent, a vapor, as food and in topical applications for pain. Speaker: Kenneth Proefrock, ND. (Product Code: 15SW01)

Therapeutic Uses of the Cannabinoids and Other Cannabis Compounds, Part 2

Continued from Part 1, Kenneth Proefrock continues presenting his clinical experience using Cannabis therapeutically for a wide range of conditions from seizures, restless leg syndrome and insomnia, to cancer, MS, Parkinsons and chronic pain. Includes some of the more interesting research on the variability of constituents with different cultivation techniques and cross-reactions with other therapeutic agents. Reviews laws surrounding medical uses with an emphasis on Arizona. Kenneth Proefrock, ND. (Product Code: 15SW02)

Use of Cannabis Compounds for Health and Disease Treatment: A Science-Based Review

Reviews over 250 clinical trials on the efficacy and safety of Medical Marijuana use for glaucoma, HIV/AIDs, opiate addiction, nausea, cancer-related cachexia, muscle spasms, epilepsy, pain, autoimmune diseases and inflammation. The benefits and drawbacks of different delivery systems, different solvents for extraction and vaporizers are discussed. Clinically relevant details on the chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are summarized. Speaker: Christopher Hobbs, PhD. (Product Code: 18SW03)

The Influence of Cannabis on the Psyche

Reports in both the biomedical literature and from patients suggest that there are beneficial effects of Medical Cannabis on various psychological conditions. Conversely, there are reports of detrimental influences of Cannabis on mental health, including addiction. This lecture discusses both sides and shines a light on a topic that will increasingly be discussed in healthcare provider forums and the press. Speaker: Kevin Spelman, PhD. (Product Code: 15ME30)

tetrahydrocannabinolCannabis and Cancer: Sifting the Science

The use of Medical Marijuana to treat issues such as cancer pain or chemo-induced nausea and vomiting is well established. However, there is also widespread patient interest in Medical Cannabis as a direct anticancer agent. This session reviews how cancer involves the endocannabinoid system, and presents data on the anticancer properties of Cannabis both in terms of cancer pathophysiology & molecular biology, as well as its effects on specific malignancies. Speaker: Jonathan Treasure, MNIMH. (Product Code: 17SW25)

Cannabis as an Alternative to Opioids, Benzodiazepines, NSAIDs and other Drugs

While these drugs can have unintended side effects, the use of Medical Marijuana as a substitute should be carefully evaluated for efficacy, adverse reactions and best use for either weaning patients from a drug or using it in conjunction to reduce drug dosage and negative effects. In a fair comparison, Medical Marijuana may be better, but a user may also develop tolerance, loss of effect, and side effects from Marijuana. Examine all sides of this topic with three experienced clinicians. Panelists: Paul Bergner, Jonathan Treasure and Kenneth Proefrock. (Product Code: 17SW17)

Plus, the Series Lecture Notes for Cannabis Therapeutics, in PDF format.

Order the complete Medical Marijuana package »

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome & Histamine Intolerance: An Herbal Approach

Curcuma Longa (turmeric)

I always tell my patients with histamine issues, whether it’s histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), that they are “the canary in the coal mine.” The canaries were the warning sign, just like people with easily-angered mast cells warning us that our environment is changing, our genes are becoming more sensitive to pollution, and our physiology is losing its resilience to stressors of daily living. However, there is indeed hope and healing – the body can be retrained and herbal medicine offers a set of tools to help it do just that! Continue reading

Western Larch – New Uses for an Ancient Medicine

Western Larch in Canada

Larix occidentalis, the Western Larch, is a species of larch native to mountainous regions of North America’s Pacific Northwest; southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta in Canada, eastern WA, eastern OR, northern ID, and western MT in the United States. Continue reading

2016 Herbal Conferences

herbal conference blue ridge black mountain

Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium, 2016
Dates: Friday June 3 – Monday, June 6
Place: Blue Ridge Assembly, Black Mountain, North Carolina

Over 40 presentations on the integration of botanicals with the latest medical discoveries along with medicine making demonstrations, herb walks and intensives.

Pre-conference Events: Friday, June 3:

Ethnobotanical and Native Plant Field Study with herbalist and ethnobotanist David Winston.

Healing the Gut-Brain Axis with Botanicals with Jason Miller, Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Full topic listing

Continuing education at Medicines from the Earth approved for nurses, naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists and pharmacists licensed in North Carolina.. All approvals now definite.

Looking forward to seeing you again in the mountains of North Carolina!

CrossCutchollasmallSouthwest Conference on Botanical Medicine, 2016   (Past Event – Thanks for making it such a great weekend! )
Dates: Friday April 8 – Sunday, April 10, 2016 

Recordings: Now available for download. Purchase full set of audio (mp3) recordings and speaker lecture notes in pdf.

Continuing education approved for recordings for NDs including 10 pharmacy hours.

Photo report on the conference on Facebook

We look forward to seeing you all again next year (April 7 – 9, 2017).

We hope you will join us for an herbal conference! These events are a great way to meet like-minded people and learn the latest information on botanical therapies for a variety of conditions.

Questions? Email us and we’ll be happy to help.

Herbal Educational Services
555 Tyler Creek Rd.
Ashland, Oregon
(541) 482-3016


Christopher Hobbs, PhD at Medicines from the Earth

herbalist Chris Hobbs in fieldChristopher Hobbs
is a fourth-generation internationally known herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine. Here he talks about his intensive at Medicines from the Earth on June 5 titled “Treating Infections with Natural Medicines—An Integrative and Cross-Cultural Approach”

Please tell us about your family heritage in botany.
My dad was a professor of botany and entomology and I still remember riding or walking with him when I was very young and being interested in flowers and plants. I’d ask the names of trees, shrubs and weeds and he would always know the name and some interesting things about them. Lucky for me, because I developed a life-long hyper-fixation on plants myself.

My maternal grandmother and great-grandmother were herbalists. My grandmother studied with a Chinese herbalist and had her own organic herb garden from which she treated people in her community. It’s interesting that so many years later I would receive training in traditional Chinese medicine, receive my acupuncture license, and study herbal medicine in China.

We are looking forward to your intensive entitled “Treating Infections with Natural Medicine—An Integrative and Cross-Cultural Approach” This seems to imply an energetic model of diagnosing and prescribing for infection—can you elaborate?
My practice and teaching style today is always a combination of traditional medicine, my own clinical and personal experience, the counsel and teachings of my peers, and the 10-year science training I completed in 2014. Although I am a scientist, I believe that healing between plants and people results from something greater than just the biological activity of herbs. Something indefinable and hard to measure occurs: a life-force that comes from the relationship between the growing and living plant, the soil and it’s microbes, its complex chemistry, the water, the sunlight, and the atmosphere, which all combine to work for healing on the highest level of intelligence. Continue reading

Chanchal Cabrera and Biophilia

Chanchal Cabrera
Chanchal Cabrera

Medicines from the Earth News: Chanchal Cabrera’s Biophilia Intensive

Speaker Chanchal Cabrera is a medical herbalist practicing on Vancouver Island, Canada. She lives at Innisfree Farm, a 7-acre botanical reserve and herb farm she and her husband Thierry Vrain created over the last ten years.

Linnea Wardwell spoke with Chanchal last week to find out more about biophilia, the instinctive bond humans have for all other life forms on the planet. It shapes her recent work on the farm, and is also the subject of the intensive workshop on Saturday afternoon at the symposium.

LW: Whenever we have a chance to chat, it seems there are new initiatives in your practice and farm activities. We’d like to find out what’s going on recently.

CC: Oh, that is a big question! I am always busy and always dreaming and scheming for the next opportunity to spread the word about herbal medicine.

Herb GatheringSince my 4 months of training at Kew Gardens in 2013 and 2014, the farm has been listed on the international register of botanic gardens, one of 7 registered gardens in BC. Our specialty is medicine and food plants but we are also offering more and more education as well. We are running workshops, hosting events and teaching classes. Last year the 2nd biennial Vancouver Island Herb Gathering at Innisfree Farm had 270 people attend over 4 days. Next one is June 2017!

On top of that, I am still running the botanical medicine department at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver, as well, so plenty to keep me busy.

LW: You’ve been a practicing medical herbalist since 1987 and were made a Fellow by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (the United Kingdom’s leading professional body representing herbal practitioners) in 2009. What is the main focus of your clinical practice?
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