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By: Thomas Jones, Staff Reporter
Last Wednesday, Oct. 11th, there was quite a bit happening both on and off the Regis campus. One of the more prevalent events you most likely knew about was the Opus prize at the Hyatt; but at the same time that was going on, right here at Regis in the Science Lecture Hall inside the Pomponio Family Science Center there was an incredibly informative presentation being put on by the Health Awareness Committee for wellness week. The presentation was titled “The Basics of Herbalism,” it was carried out by two members of Regis’s Health Awareness Committee: A Junior named Alex Amey and a Freshman named Evanjalina Matoy. Alex is a certified herbalist and Evanjalina has been around herbal medicine most of her life as a result of her parents, while not being opposed to western medicine, seeking out herbal remedies as a prerequisite.
As one walked into the lecture hall, they saw the projector screen at the front of the room entirely extended with a picture of many different plants and herbs on the screen as a backdrop to the words “Basics of Herbalism.” Beneath the screen there was a table set up with many different books on herbalism as well as plastic bottles with pill capsules dwelling within, filled with many different herbs; along with these plastic bottles there were smaller glass ones filled with a liquid we would all later learn is called “Tincture.” There was also a glass bowl on the table filled with mixed, dried herbs; these herbs within the dish was the mixture being used in the tea at the front of the lecture hall which was available for the audience to have a cup. There was a decent crowd of around twenty-five people that showed up for this presentation on Herbalism. Everyone who came seemed to be quite interested in the topic, many asking questions before the event even started. Many of these were focused on the herbal tea set up at the front of the lecture hall. Alex, the Junior presenter, stated that it was a blend of several different herbs that reportedly help boost one’s immune system. After the questions on the tea subsided, the presentation began.
The presentation was guided by PowerPoint; it started with a slide about just exactly what Herbalism is and a little bit of history on the subject. It stated that Herbalism is a practice of using plants and herbs as a way of medicine; within this was definition they also included the primary benefit of Herbalism which is that you can “Be your own doctor,” in a way. The history of Herbalism is quite old; it can be seen as far back as ancient Egypt, although the “Great Age of Herbalism” lies more between the 15th and 17th centuries. After the historical information was covered, the presentation then moved on to mention many different herbs and their benefits; those mentioned included: Cinnamon, Fennel, Echinacea, Ginger as well as many others. Although all the herbs mentioned had a different array of benefits which they offered, a common theme among them was the two benefits of keeping a strong and healthy immune system as well as helping your digestive tract. The presentation then turned to different forms and ways of ingesting these herbs.
There are five main forms or ways of ingesting herbal medicine. One is taking a capsule which contains the herb. Two is steeping fresh or dried herbs in hot water and making a tea to drink. Three is using a super strong alcohol or glycerin solvent called Tincture which you then just take a couple of drops of to ingest. Four is using essential oils which are oils made of herbs that usually are not safe to ingest but instead put into an oil diffuser which puts the oils into the air for you to breath; you could also use these oils topically and put them on your skin, especially the bottoms of your feet. The fifth and last form of herbal medicine is salves or lotions which you apply topically. The presentation then went on to tackle some stigmas of herbal medicine; stating that herbal medicine is not pseudoscience and is used in many different countries and has reliable studies to back up many of its practices, this also ties into another stigma they debunked which is the idea that herbal medicine is harmless, it’s not. Herbal medicine is medicine just like western medicine and can have side effects, many being severe if you mix wrong medication or use too much of something.
Towards the end of the talk, Alex and Evanjalina mentioned some of the best herbal remedies for students. There were four main herbs suggested that students could utilize to stay healthy, especially as we move more into the winter months! The first was an essential oil called Ravintsara; this oil is a very strong respiratory antiviral which also regenerates cells and promotes digestion. The second herb was Rosemary; rosemary helps people focus and retain memories, as well as alleviate anxiety, besides all these benefits, it’s also good for digestion because it helps clean out your liver and gallbladder. The third herb mentioned is Sambucus Standardized Elderberry; this is made from black elderberry and is very good for your immune system. The last herb mentioned is one called Turmeric; this is an anti-inflammatory medicine, just like Advil, so it helps alleviate pain and inflammation. It’s best made by boiling it into a tea, but it can also be found in capsule form.
Overall people seemed to thoroughly enjoy the talk. Many questions were asked throughout the presentation as well as at the end after Alex and Evanjalina were finished speaking. When I asked a Freshman named Shelby Strothers, who was in attendance, what she thought of the presentation, she stated, “I thought the talk was cool actually! I didn’t know what to expect when I came, but I’m pleased I did because the information we were given seems super helpful, especially being college students needing to stay healthy to be able to go to class while also trying to stay on a budget and not spend too much money.”