Unveiling Nature’s Pharmacy: Transformative Herbal Medicine Course Awaits You

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the ancient wisdom of herbal medicine and unlock the secrets of nature’s healing bounty? Our Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship is not just an educational experience; it’s a journey into the heart of holistic healing, designed to empower you with the knowledge and skills to navigate the fascinating world of herbal energetics, herbal medicine, and formulation. Let’s explore the enticing offerings that await you in this transformative course.

Herbal Energetics:

Western Energetics: Step into the realm of Western Energetics, a foundation that will shape your understanding of the energetic properties of herbs. Discover how these principles guide herbalists in creating potent and effective formulations.

4 Elements & 4 Conditions: Explore the fundamental concepts of the four elements and conditions, unraveling the intricate balance that governs the holistic approach to herbal healing. This knowledge will be the cornerstone of your journey into the herbal world.

6 Tissue States: Dive into the six tissue states, gaining insights into the nuanced ways herbs interact with the body. Understanding these states will empower you to address imbalances at a profound level.

Tasting of Herbs and Learning Their Energetics: Engage your senses in a unique and enriching experience as you taste herbs to discern their energetics. This hands-on approach will deepen your connection with the plants and enhance your ability to choose herbs intuitively.

Learn Clinical Observation: Sharpen your observational skills through the lens of clinical herbal medicine. Witness the subtle cues that guide herbal practitioners in formulating personalized treatments. This skill is invaluable in tailoring herbal remedies to individual constitutions.

Formulating Herbal Medicine:

6 Steps to Formulation: Embark on a journey through the six steps of formulation, unraveling the art and science of crafting herbal remedies. Each step will be broken down, ensuring a thorough understanding and application in real-world scenarios.

How to Go Through a Patient Intake: Learn the art of patient intake, a crucial skill in understanding the unique needs of each individual. Navigate through the intricacies of assessing health conditions and tailoring herbal treatments accordingly.

Clinical Herbal Pharmacy:

Learn How to Pour and Dose Teas and Tinctures: Become adept at the art of pouring and dosing herbal teas and tinctures. This practical skill ensures precision in formulating and administering herbal remedies.

Making Salves, Medicated Creams, and Syrups: Delve into the world of herbal pharmacy by crafting salves, medicated creams, and syrups. This hands-on experience will expand your repertoire of herbal applications.

How to Make Tincture Extracts: Master the craft of tincture making, extracting the potent medicinal properties of herbs. This skill is a cornerstone in creating herbal formulations with maximum therapeutic benefits.

System-Specific Modules:

Digestive System, Nervous System, Cardiovascular System: Explore common conditions seen in clinics, pharmaceutical approaches, and delve into a curated list of the best herbs for each system. The therapeutics of common clinical presentations will be accompanied by herb tastings, offering a comprehensive understanding of their effects.

Herb Walk: Connect with nature in a guided herb walk, where you’ll learn to identify and appreciate medicinal plants in their natural habitat. This experiential journey reinforces the bond between herbalists and the Earth’s healing offerings.

Endocrine System, Integumentary System (Skin), Musculoskeletal System: Uncover the intricacies of these vital systems, exploring common conditions, pharmaceutical approaches, and discovering the therapeutic potentials of herbs. Herb tastings will bring these lessons to life, allowing you to experience the healing properties firsthand.

Course Wrap-Up – Individual Project Presentation:

As you reach the culmination of this transformative course, you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your newfound knowledge and skills through an individual project presentation. This is not just an academic exercise but a celebration of your unique journey and the evolution of your understanding of herbal medicine.

Are you ready to embark on this enriching adventure into the world of herbal healing? Sign up now and let the transformative journey begin. Nature’s pharmacy is waiting for you, eager to reveal its age-old secrets and empower you on your path to holistic well-being.

Join us and become a steward of herbal wisdom, bringing the healing power of nature into your life and the lives of others. Your journey awaits – embrace it!

Next class starts:  February 26th 2024


Errant Empire
1316 Esquimalt Road
Victoria, British Columbia

Podcast Details


bottles and dried herbs scaled

Re-localization of Herbal Medicine in British Columbia

Lackluster Herbal Medicine


The herbal medicine world is much bigger than we think. Most often herbs are purchased solely at grocery stores in pre-boxed beautifully designed containers to attract the eye.   It is common knowledge at herbal colleges that the medicinal properties in the Chamomile we buy in pre-boxed with pre-bagged tea bags is already extracted from its medicinal properties before it even hits our teacup. What is rumoured to happen is the powerful blue chamzulene essential oil that is in chamomile is first steam distilled and extracted and then the chamomile tea is put into a bag for us to drink at a later time.  This is because blue chamazulene is very expensive and also well known for its healing properties.

Where do our Plants Come From?


It is wonderful coming across herbal medicine in any form. It is also important to know how to source the highest quality most sustainable herbal medicine products. A lot of are herbs are conventionally grown therefore the impact on the natural sources of these plants are minimal. Where these plants come from is a different story. Just off the top of my head thinking about purchase orders I do I would say anywhere from 60% all the way up to 80% of dry herbs that I bulk purchase comes from either Eastern Europe or China. This is because the cost of growing herbs is more affordable in those regions. Here in Canada water, land and nutrients for the plants are all much more expensive for us to purchase.

How can we Bring Back the Medicine?

I think it’s great that the herbal medicine world can help support these communities worldwide but I also think it’s important we support our local community and become self-sustainable. Due to the “new” “pandemic” I spent some time looking into British Columbia’s growing schedule and its ability to be self-sustainable. From this brief information gathered from government research the only product we produce that we have in abundance is fruit. Everything else we grow is only a percentage of what our community needs therefore we have to import from other provinces other countries around the world.


Our Vision:


The vision of Errant Empire Herbal Medicine is to be one of many partners in the community to help re-localized herbal medicine.   We have already established relationships with multiple farmers and are in the process of connecting with local wild-crafters to help sustainably sourced our dispensary.


As I was designing which herbs we will carry in our dispensary I began to create a list of which plants we can source locally weather through cultivation or wildcrafting. I was shocked to realize that the list kept growing and growing and growing. We are blessed to live in a Garden of Eden on Vancouver Island where the temperatures and the climate are perfect for a diversity of plant growth.


Herbs that can be Wild-crafted or Cultivated in BC


Below is a short list of some of the herbs that we can Source locally and or grow fairly simply:


  •  Hawthorne Leaf, flower, Berry
  •  Nettle Leaf and Root
  •  Ginger
  •  Turkey Tail Mushroom
  •  Rosebud’s
  •  Rose Hips
  •  Rosemary
  •  Self-heal
  •  Wild Lettuce
  •  Oregon Grape Root
  •  Old Man’s Beard
  •  Plantain
  •  Cleavers
  •  Devils Club (ceremonial plant)
  •  Calendula
  •  Gumweed
  •  California Poppy
  •  St. John’s Wort
  •  Dandelion Leaf and Root
  •  Burdock
  •  Catnip
  •  Lemon Balm
  •  And the list will go on…


Further Thought..


Something interesting when talking about some of these local herbs that I listed is that quite often Plantain and Dandelion root are sourced all the way from Eastern Europe when they grow abundantly here. Dandelion is in my herb garden, as well as in my front yard grass. This year I have spent three different occasions getting the “weeds” out of my grass and trying to contain them in the garden.


The World is Shifting


The world is shifting and we as herbalists need to shift with it. Our tinctures for the time being are still sourced from our wonderful partners in the United Kingdom because they’ve perfected the process. At Errant Empire we are actively moving in the direction of developing our own sustainably-sourced high-potency alcohol tincture extracts. Stay tuned…


Our new partner in the Kootenays will be providing the dispensary with close to 10 fresh herbs so that we can begin this process of re-localizing herbal medicine and making it more sustainable and affordable.


Call to Action


We want to be a partner with in a community of farmers, wild-crafters and other herbalist to uplift the Western herbal tradition here in British Columbia. If this is something that calls to you, please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know your plans and thoughts and we can connect and make this vision happen for the whole herbal industry.


We are an herbal medicine dispensary on Vancouver Island with over 150 plants in our dispensary. All of our dried herbs are sourced locally or regionally sourced.  If we can’t find them in this capacity, we support other local dispensaries and purchase from them.  We are in the process of designing our retail store that will have our dispensary three clinic rooms and other complementary and alternative remedies.


Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to connect. Whether you’re new to herbal medicine or a fellow herbalist we love to connect. Thank you for reading our blog and we look forward to starting the conversation.


David is a practicing Medical Herbalist living on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  The herbal dispensary he works with is stocked with therapeutic tinctures that are among the highest strength in the industry.  The dry herbs he uses are all locally or regionally sustainably sourced in North America.  If the herb is not accessible locally or regionally the dispensary supports other local distributors in Victoria, British Columbia. This is the vision of Errant Empire Herbal Medicine to re-localize herbal medicine.

If you are interested in learning about how to understand the strength of tinctures or would like to talk one-on-one with a Medical Herbalist, please feel free to reach out to herbalist@errantherbal.com or see our BLOGs and pages below.  Thank you for reading and take care.

shutterstock 492334768 scaled

Understanding the Herbal Terms & Actions of the Western Herbal Tradition

The Herbal Medicine world is like any other with its own terminology.  A lot of the terms we use and that are listed below are very traditional and go back to the roots of the Western Tradition.  On the other hand some of these terms are relatively new like “Adaptogen”

This list will be updated over time as there are many herbal terms. If you have any questions or comments our contact information is at the bottom of this page.

Herbal Actions:




Adaptogen – An herb with the ability to encourage the body to function optimally through different means in a non-specific way. One of the requirements is plants has to be Safe and non-toxic.


Alterative/depurative – And herb that helps the body facilitate detoxification and is often applied to rheumatic and skin complaints. The process is thought to be achieved by helping to clear by products, “toxins” and metabolites.


Analgesic – The ability to reduce pain weather applied internally or topically.


Anaphorodisiac –  a plant that reduces drive and desire for sexual intercourse ultimately reducing libido.


Antacid –  an herb that helps neutralize or reduce stomach acid.


Anthelmintic –  a plant that is used  to help expel intestinal worms


Antiallergic –  compounds within a plant that counter or offset natural biological allergic responses.


Antianaemic – a plant that helps support the body against anemia through many different methods.


Antiarrythmic – the ability to prevent the effects of arrhythmia.


Antibacterial – a plant with properties that prevent bacteria from growing.


Anticatarhal – a substance that breaks up and helps clear mucous.


Antidiabetic – a plant or compound that helps support diabetes in many different ways.


Antidiarrhoeal – a plant or compound that offsets the effects of diarrhoea.


Antiemetic – a plant or compound that prevents or reduces symptoms of nausea and/or vommiting.


Antifungal – a plant or constituents that inhibits and/or destroys fungal cells.


Antihaemorrhagic – a plant that is used internally to reduce or stop internal bleeding.


Anti-inflammatory – A plant that is the opposite of pro-inflammatory.


Antioxidant – a constituent that counters free radical damage.


Antiprostatic – a plant or compound that counters the effects and symptoms of the prostate gland.


Antipyretic – a plant or compound that reduces fever.


Antirheumatic – a plant or compound that is used for complaints that affect the joints.


Antispasmodic – a plant or compound that reduces spasm of skeletal and/or smooth muscle.


Antitussive – a plant or constituent that acts to relax coughing spasm.


Antiviral – a constituent that acts to prevent growth or destroys a virus.


Anxiolytic – a plant or compound that reduces the symptoms related to anxiety.


Aphrodisiac – a compound that increases libido.


Aromatic Bitter – a plant containing bitter compounds with a warming effect on the body and digestive system.


Astringent – a compound’ often a tannin, that binds to proteins causing a tightening affect.  Often used in digestion and topically to tonify mucous membranes and skin.




Bitter – specific compounds that bind to specific bitter receptors stimulating the digestive process.




Cardioprotective – a plant with compounds that have been shown to protect heart tissue.


Cardiotonic – a plant with specific constituents that encourage the heart to be more efficient with each contraction.


Carminative – compounds found in plants that help to reduce gas and bloating through helping to break down gas and/or expel it.


Cholagogue – a compound in a plant that encourage the gall bladder and liver to release bile.


Choleretic – a compound in in a plant that encourages the liver to increase production of bile.


Circulatory system stimulant – a constituent that increases blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body often with a warming affect.


Cognitive enhancement – a plant with compounds that increase cognitive function.


Counterirritant – a compound in a plant that when applied topically that produces mild inflammation superficially to help relieve deeper inflammation in muscle or rheumatic tissue.




Demulcent – a compound that is soothing to the mucous membranes in different body systems including the respiratory, digestive and urinary systems.


Diaphoretic – plants with specific compounds that help with fevers by often inducing a fever.


Diuretic – compounds found in plants that encourage urine production and output.



Emetic – plants with the ability to induce nausea and vomiting.


Emmenagogue – plants with compounds that can begin the process or increase menstrual flow.


Expectorant – a compound in plants that encourage the expelling of mucous from the lungs or upper respiratory tract by either altering the viscosity or improving clearance.




Galactagogue – A plant or constituent that increase milk production in a breast feeding mother.



Haemostatic – A constituent when used can limit or stop bleeding


Hepatic tonic – An herb that strengthens and “tonifies” the lliver.


Hepatoprotective – A constituent in an herb that acts to protect the liver in normal functioning or in excess stress.


Hypnotic – A constituent or plant that has a sedating effect.


Hypoglycaemic – A constituent or plant that lowers glucose in the blood.


Hypolipidaemic – A constituent or plant that lowers triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.


Hypotensive – A constituent or plant that lowers blood pressure.



Immune enhancing – A constituent or plant that enhances immune function.


Immune modulation – A constituent or plant that can act to enhance or lessen immune function.




Laxative – A constituent or plant that acts to clear stool and induce a bowel movement.


Lymphatic – A constituent or plant that acts to move the lymphatic system.




Mucous Membrane Tonic – A constituent or plant that strengthens the integrity and functioning of the mucous membranes.




Nervine – a substance or plant that calms and soothes the nervous system either through sedating or uplifting.




Partus preparator – A constituent or plant that is used to prepare a woman’s uterus for childbirth.


Peripheral vasodilator – A substance that helps to dilate the vasculature system to help blood flow and potentially reduce blood pressure.


Pungent – A warming bitter often containing volatile oils.




Refrigerant – A constituent or plant with cooling potential.




Sedative – A constituent or plant that causes drowsiness and induces sleep.


Sialagogue – A constituent or plant that causes the salivary ducts to produce and release more saliva.


Spasmolytic – A constituent or plant that can relax smooth muscle spasm.




Thymoleptic – A specific plant or constituent that is considered a nervine that uplifts the mood and relieves stress.


Tonic – A constituent or plant that “tonifies” the whole system through strengthening and enhancing function.


Trophorestorative – A term used to indicate a constituent or plant that restores a specific tissue state.




Urinary antiseptic – A constituent or plant that has antibacterial properties in the urinary tract system.


Urinary demulcent – A constituent or plant that acts to soothe and comfort the urinary tract syste


Uterine tonic – A constituent or plant that has a strengthening or tonifying effect on the uterus.




Vasoconstrictor – A constituent or plant that causes a constricting effect on the vasculature system.


Vasoprotective – A constituent or plant that has a protective effect on the vasculature system often through antioxidant support.


Venous tonic – A constituent or plant that strengthens or tonifies the vasculature system.


Vulnerary – A constituent or plant that acts to help heal wounds.



David is a practising Medical Herbalist living on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  The herbal dispensary he works with is stocked with therapeutic grade tinctures that are among the highest strength in the industry.  The dry herbs he uses are all locally or regionally sustainably sourced plants in North America.  If the herb is not accessible locally or regionally the dispensary supports other local distributors in Victoria, British Columbia. This is the vision of Errant Empire Herbal Medicine to re-localize herbal medicine.

If you are interested in learning about how to understand the strength of tinctures or would like to talk one-on-one with a Medical Herbalist, please feel free to reach out to herbalist@errantherbal.com or see our BLOGs and pages below.  Thank you for reading and take care.


Tincture Strength Blog

Connect with an Herbalist

Canva Tea in Cup scaled

Herb Medicine “Battery” an Uplifting Nervine for Children and Adults a-like by David Shaw – Medical Herbalist; c.N.C.

Herbal Medicine Battery! This blend gets its name from its uplifting and nourishing actions. The formula helps give energy while encouraging the body to rest. We have used this blend with a few different patients: including children as young as three and adults in their sixties. While not every herb is right for children; Lemon Balm, Ashwagandha and Chamomile are some of the best to use!  Each formula will have a different ratio of herbs depending on what the individual is looking for. When talking with a person that is having more digestive upset the blend will have more Chamomile and Lemon Balm in it because of their affinity to the digestive system. If the primary focus is to support stress and anxiety the blend might be heavier in Ashwagandha.  One of the greatest benefits of taking some time to talk with a medical herbalist is that your formula is tailored specific to your health goals. Even spending 15 minutes with a medical herbalist can shed some light on information that might help them make slight adjustments to your formula. Sometimes it is beneficial to do a more in-depth consultation. This is often recommended for people who have chronic or more complex conditions.

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita):

Probably one of the most underrated digestive herbs in the herbal medicine cabinet, Chamomile is known as “the mother of the gut,” and for good reasons! The constituents in this plant help with a wide range of digestive complaints from dyspepsia (which is a sickly feeling associated with nausea) all the way to reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. Chamomile also has a nice calming effect to the nervous system though it is subtle. This subtle relaxing effect may not be as noticeable in the adults but with children it is quite effective. Chamomile is also known for its anti-allergic properties and is often put in topical blends to help with eczema and herbal tincture formulas to help with seasonal allergies.

Lemon Balm (Melissa off.):

Lemon Balm is a very bright plant. If you have ever tasted a fresh tincture extract of this plant you can be instantaneously launched in to a feeling of brightness. The zing you get from the lemon taste comes from the volatile oils in the plant. This is often why herbalist lean towards fresh plant extractions as the plant will have a higher concentration of these constituents.

Beyond Lemon Balm’s uplifting nervous system support it also has uses for digestive complaints. Lemon Balm like many other mint-family (Lamiaceae) plants has antispasmodic properties in the intestine helping to relax spasms as well as help with gas and bloating. Another major benefit from fresh plant extracts is the well-known research of the anti-viral properties Lemon Balm offers. More specifically herbalists use this plant as a topical to help with herpes simplex (HSV1 &2).


There are cautions around using this plant with people who have Hypothyroid. Speak with a Medical Herbalist for more information.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera):

This plant is quite easily one of the favourites taken and used at Errant Empire. The versatility of this plant as well as the safety profile makes this plant applicable to children and elders alike. Ashwagandha gets its common name from an interesting association with the smell of horsehair. The idea behind this is the fresh roots when unearthed smell like a sweaty horse. At Errant Empire Herbal Medicine Dispensary, we quite often carry stronger extracts of this plant. We are able to achieve higher doses with patients with these stronger 1:1 or 1:2 extracts. *If you are interested to learn about the strengths of herbal tincture please go see our other blog here.*


We use Ashwagandha for everything from adrenal and nervous system support to sleep and inflammatory conditions. This plant is also well known for its anabolic properties helping athletes achieve their goals. This is one of the many adaptogens in the herbal medicine dispensary that is helpful in increasing athletic performance. We blend this plant with other anti-inflammatory herbs to help with inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). We also use this plant to stimulate thyroid function in people who have hypothyroidism. It is important to speak with an herbalist to see if this is the right herb for your hypothyroidism as it’s not applicable across the board and maybe less beneficial than other herbs. With that in mind, this plant is contraindicated for people with hyperthyroid function.

15-minute herbal consultation:

These are some of our favourite herbs at Errant Empire because of their safety profile and for the results, we see with people using these plants. Charge your battery for spring with this blend! There’s so much to gain from speaking to a medical herbalist. We are grateful to be able to offer a free 15-minute consultation to make sure that these plants are right for you. We have a basic intake form so that we can cover specific health information like your current medications and supplements. We also have specific questions we ask to find out underlying causes for conditions.


Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about which plants to use or if you want to design a custom herbal formula. We are the leading online herbal medicine dispensary that is meeting the world where it’s at. We want to bring the experience of going to an herbal medicine dispensary to the online world. You can contact us directly through email or phone. We can set up a time to do a Skype call or book a full consultation. It’s up to you.


We utilize Patreon as a membership platform to offer discounts and better rates to people who use herbal medicine regularly. Please check out our Patreon page and see if one of these plans is right for you. With our entry-level membership, you are able to get upwards of 36% off individual tincture purchases and 15% off custom formulas. We also offer a higher-tiered membership for people who are going to have regular consultations: that also includes a two-week formula for free.




I hope you are well and thank you for reading this blog I look forward to starting the conversation with you.


David Shaw – Medical Herbalist; c.N.C. herbalist@errantherbal.com





1 – (Vogl H, Tausch I, Wolbling R H and Kaiser PM)

Tincture bottles for webpage scaled

Custom Herbal Medicine for Children

Custom Herbal Medicine for Children

By David Shaw – Medical Herbalist c.N.C.


Hello I hope your day is well and thank you for reading our blog! Today I’d like to talk about a few different things:


  •  Custom herbal remedies
  •  Herbs for children
  •  ‘Soothe & Clear’ formula


Custom Herbal Remedies


This is a relatively new concept in the mainstream world when it comes to herbal medicine. Most people go to the grocery store – head to the supplement section and pick an herb off the shelf because either: they were told to go for that specific plant, they already know the plant and what it does or the sales associate helped them pick it out.  In the very near future people will be looking for herbal remedies specific to their bio-individuality.  Each person is unique in how medications, herbs and disease interact and present.  So medicine should be unique to each person.


A custom herbal blend is specific to each person’s constitution and health. In today’s example the four-year-old patient is on the back end of having a common cold and the patient’s parents want to help assist with clearing the symptoms.  How that cold presented this time is different than any other previous cold or the next cold. Colds can present themselves in many different ways including:


  • Dry cough with sore throats;
  • Wet cough with no sore throat;
  • Damp congested sinuses;
  • A runny nose without congestion but with inflammation;
  • Sinus inflammation with little mucous;
  • And the list can go on…


In reality the many different ways a cold can present itself and how that cold clears can be very different each time someone has a cold. This is where custom herbal remedies come in.


“Herbs can be very effective and help many different things but the right herb at the wrong time is the wrong herb.” This quote comes from one of my favorite Jiu-Jitsu athlete, Roger Gracie. To share one example: someone with a dry cough and sore throat will probably not have as much success with a drying herb like Hyssop as compared to another cough supportive herb like Marshmallow Leaf or Mullein Leaf.  Hyssop is essential oil rich.  These essential oils work at moving congestion by interacting with mucous in the lungs.  In the case of the dry cough, Hyssop would just irritate the lungs further when what is really needed is a soothing antispasmodic action.  Marshmallow and Mullein Leaf help clear any excess mucous and have a demulcent action to soothe a sore throat.


Herbs for Children


Herbal medicine for children is often overlooked or approached with caution.  To be direct, herbs are safe and effective when used properly. When using herbs for children, tea blends aren’t often the most effective choice. As most parents can imagine, getting a sick child to drink 3 child size cups of tea a day to achieve a therapeutic dose would be challenging. Quite often a more experienced herbalist will lean towards herbal tinctures using specific calculations of age and body weight to determine a safe and effective dose for the child. Most over the counter cough medication is not recommended. There are eve n studies showing that Buckwheat honey is just as or more effective than OTC cough medicine.


Soothe & Clear Formula


The formula we are talking about today is for a 4 year old boy who had a very mild common cold that lasted 2 days. For those two days he was in the acute stage with a runny nose, feeling unwell and having a little trouble sleeping. As mentioned earlier, cold symptoms can present differently every time. Sometimes children have high fevers. Sometimes they have no energy. Sometimes their bowel movements stop and they don’t want to eat or drink. These are all different ways the common cold or flu can present in a child.


The name of this formula is Soothe & Clear.  The herbs inside of this formula are:

  •  Holy Basil
  •  Plantain
  •  Cleavers
  •  Licorice


Holy Basil, Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) – This is such a well-known plant in the East, specifically India and Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine. Tulsi is a close relative to Sweet Basil which we use very often in our cooking or in salads. This plant has a very spicy taste to it and is often enjoyed by children.  Ocimum is used by some herbalists for children who are sick with a cold. In this scenario, we are using the plant’s essential oils to help clear excess mucous in the upper respiratory tract, increase digestion and support the nervous system.  Holy Basil is a nervine which means it is supportive to the nervous system.  It is known for its antiseptic-antimicrobial and antiviral potential as well as being anticatarrhal; which means it helps to break down and expel mucous.


Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) – A very beautiful plant that is often overlooked on dirt paths. Plantago is one of the nine sacred plants in the Druid tradition. Plantain is very drying just like so many other mucous membrane tonics. Other plants that fall in this category include:

  • Elderflower,
  • Goldenseal,
  • Ground ivy and


Mucous membrane tonics do exactly what their name implies which is strengthening the integrity of the mucous membrane so that excess mucous is unable to come out. For example, if a child has an excessively runny nose and it is preventing them from sleeping at night, these plants can slow the runny nose so he can get proper rest to heal more quickly. **It is important to use mucous membrane tonics carefully as over-drying is not necessarily better than being full of mucous.**

Cleavers (Galium aparine) – Cleavers are a cute clingy plant climbing anything and everything every spring in the Pacific Northwest.  Some people use this plant as a spring detoxification and juice Cleavers for a spring cleaning.  In the herbal medicine world this plant is known as a lymphatic.  We tend to add lymphatic herbs to cold and flu remedies to help move stuck and congested lymph glands.


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – This is one of the many well-researched plants in the herbal medicine cabinet.  Licorice can be used for so many different things. In this specific formula we are using Licorice to help soothe the mucous membranes and also to counter the drying effect of Plantain.  Licorice is also very helpful in adrenal support helping with energy.  It would also fall in the category as a mild laxative helping to move a congested liver after having a cold. The biggest benefit of this plant for a child’s herbal remedy is that it’s sweet and adds some good flavour to the formula so that the child will take it more willingly.


In the end the formula Soothe & Clear was a success. It was able to:

  • Dry up excess mucous in the sinus
  • Help stimulate digestion
  • Increased energy
  • Help the child feel better

**Herbs while safe and effective can be pushy.  In this specific instance Holy Basil is also stimulating to digestion and increases energy. Make sure to talk with an herbalist to understand exactly which herb is right for you and your children**


I hope you enjoyed this article if you have any questions please feel to reach out by email or through the website below. We can start the conversation regarding a custom herbal remedy for you or your child. Quite often a 15 minute phone conversation can help us get enough information to help connect you to the correct plants. We also offer more in depth full consultations for people with more complex or chronic conditions.


If you like what you are reading the best thing you can do to support us: like, share and subscribe to our social media platforms so we can continue to spread this message.


David Shaw – Medical Herbalist, c.N.C.

Email: herbalist@errantherbal.com


Become a member at Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=37279631&fan_landing=true





Watch our online content on:


Rumble: https://rumble.com/user/ErrantHerbal

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHyJCU538EJk15B1RH7EtVA

Tincture bottles scaled

Different Types of Herbal Extractions and How to Understand Your Tincture Strength

Different Types of Herbal Extractions and How to Understand Your Tincture Strength


As I’ve been setting up my herbal dispensary I have been thinking a lot about what information that is needed in the health world for people interested in herbal products. This is one of many blogs that will be written to help shine some light in the herbal medicine world.


The focus of this blog will be different types of herbal preparations and understanding alcohol tincture extract strengths.


Different Types of Herbal Extractions:


–           water infusion

–           water decoction

–           alcohol extract

–           vinegar-based extract

–           vegetable glycerin extract



Water infusion –  this is your typical tea where you place the herbal tea blend into hot water and let it steep for 15 to 30 minutes.  There are a lot of techniques in this process that can be elaborated on including: covering your tea while it steeps, overnight infusions and different lengths of times to get different strengths of tea.


Water decoction –  a decoction is often used with harder plant materials like roots and bark.  In this process we place the herbal blend directly into a pot and bring the water to boil.  We then simmer the water with herbs for up to 30 minutes to an hour and then pull it off and let it cool for another 15 to 20 minutes.  This will provide a stronger extract of the plant constituents from these harder plant parts.


Alcohol extract –  this is by far herbalists favourite method of dispensing herbs.  Alcohol extracts can take anywhere from 14 days to 40 days to properly extract all of the plant constituents.  Alcohol extracts pull out more plant constituents than any other method.  The only stronger method is to do capsules ingesting the whole plant material but can often require lots of capsules throughout the day.


Vinegar-Based extracts –  this is another method that is used to extract plant constituents and can often be seen in the very popular and extremely powerful Fire Cider.  Vinegars extraction capability is somewhere between a strong decoction and an alcohol extract in regards to its potency.   Another highlight with vinegar-based extracts is that some plant constituents do better in a vinegar base rather than an alcohol base.


Vegetable glycerin extracts –  this method tends to be reserved for extracts that don’t necessarily need to be as strong. This preparation is often used with young children and people who abstain from alcohol.  The biggest drawback with this method is vegetable glycerin is not as strong of an extraction method as alcohol or vinegar which means for the average person they would need a bigger dose.


Alcohol Tincture Strengths:


This is quite often the most misunderstood part of herbal medicine when it comes to people in search of tincture extracts.  Working with an herbalist will be the fastest and easiest way to understand herbal tincture extracts and what your proper dosage is.   This blog will act as a quick reference guide in helping you understand the strength of your herbal tincture extract.


Most often when you purchase a tincture at a store or inside of a herbal shop the strength of the tincture will be noted somewhere on the bottle.  The tinctures you find in an herbalist dispensary are quite often much stronger than tinctures you find at a grocery store.  This is not a hard fast rule but herbalists know the therapeutic dosage range of their herbs and can fit more in their formulas with stronger extracts.





The tinctures at the grocery store tend to be at a strength of 1:4, 1:5 or 1:6


The tinctures you find an herbalist dispensary can range from 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, 1:5, 1:8 all the way to 1:10


(1:1 and 1:2 strengths are often fresh plant extracts)       (1:8 and 1:10 are restricted herbs)


For our example we will use:  Black Cohosh     1:3    60%


  • For every 3 milliliters of this specific tincture you take you are getting the dried herb equivalent of 1 gram of Black Cohosh root.


  • If the strength of the tincture above was 1:4,  it would require 4 milliliters to achieve 1 gram of plant material.


(Dry herb)       1:3       (Alcohol extract)


Herbalists are specific when they choose the strength of their tinctures. Some want as strong as possible while others want what is most versatile, and often they want both.  Plants like Lemon Balm should almost always be fresh plant extracts and should be at the strength of 1:2.  Some herbs are so strong herbalists prefer a more diluted extract.  Cedar is one of these herbs.  Cedar is so strong that having a 1:4 or 1:5 extract blends better in a formula when compared to a 1:1 or 1:2


Knowing this if you find a tincture extract at 1:2  and you’ve been using 1:4,  you can half the dose you’ve been doing and still have the same therapeutic effect.


(a simple rule the lower the numbers paired together the stronger the extract)  ← This does not always equate to better though..



This is a really short explanation of what I learned in college and it can help someone understand further the strength of their tincture. If you ever have any questions or comments or thoughts please feel free to reach out to our online herbal dispensary. our goal is to help connect people to herbalists so that we can teach you how to use the plants. Sovereignty and health  for each person is part of the mission of Errant Empire Herbal Medicine.  We want to  teach the community how to reconnect with the plants again.


Questions or Comments:




Canva null 7 scaled

What Can we use in Place of Over-the-counter Medications like Zantac

Herbal Medicines that can help support GERD before, during and after using Zantac.


Some interesting news has come out this week from the FDA in the United States regarding Zantac containing a chemical that is possibly carcinogenic. These types of stories are eye-catching and tend to make the headlines of major news outlets. It is always important to look further into claims made by any organization, including the FDA.  Zantac, also known as Ranitidine, was put on the market in 1981 and was the top-selling prescription drug that year. Since then the drug has been available as an over-the-counter medication at many grocery and drug stores.


According to a FOX news report a carcinogenic constituent known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), is labelled as a probable human carcinogen. The reason for this claim is based on studies showing that this chemical causes cancer in animals (Fox News, 2019). As of right now, no recalls are being recommended by the Food and Drug Administration since the amount of NDMA inside of the drug Zantac is in such small amounts. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA, NDMA was formerly used in the production of rocket fuel (Foxnews, 2019). Many Pharmaceuticals that have been developed since World War II are a product of the petroleum industry, and NDMA is no exception.


Zantac is commonly prescribed for GERD, peptic ulcer disease, and for high stomach acid production that is often associated with heartburn. According to a professional resource out of the UK patient.Info.com heartburn and other discomforts in the upper abdomen were formerly classified as dyspepsia prior to 1991 (Patient, 2019).  The term has evolved into the acronym GERD which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease.  One Belgian population study reported the prevalence of GERD in their population.  They found that about 20% of their population exhibited symptoms of GERD (Patient,2019). It’s easy to see why Zantac would be so popular and prescribed as an over-the-counter medication across the world.


What is GERD?


So what is GERD specifically? Most often there are many different symptoms and can include:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Pain inside the chest near the heart mistaken as a heart attack (epigastric discomfort)
  • Fatty food intolerance (Patient, 2019)


There are many other conditions that can mimic the symptoms so it’s important to check with your healthcare provider to rule out any alarming conditions.  Other conditions with similar symptoms include:

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • gallstones or pain in the gallbladder
  • esophageal spasm
  • and peptic ulcers (Patient, 2019)


Herbal medicine is a great ally for people with GERD and can help with pain management and even reduction of symptoms – without the same side effects as conventional pharmaceuticals. It has been shown that long term use of Ranitidine decreases the absorption of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, B12 and Vitamin C. This is the result of long-term suppression of stomach acid (Heidelbaugh, 2013).  This doesn’t mean that short term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) like Ranitidine shouldn’t be used but rather should be used appropriately. It is important to weigh the benefits and risks as you would with any other medication when applying it for any length of time.

So where does Herbal medicine come in?


We have different approaches to getting to the underlying causes of GERD or dyspepsia.  We also have different approaches to protecting the stomach and the small intestine with plants that create a protective barrier of plant mucilage and that are anti-inflammatory.


Plants that we would use to help reduce stomach acid include Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and to some extent chamomile (Matricaria recutita).


To help with protecting the stomach we would use anti-inflammatories like the resins found in calendula (Calendula off.) and the anti-inflammatory properties of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).


For short and long-term GERD symptoms we would almost always address diet and lifestyle. Herbal medicine can help with returning the body to its normal way of functioning but diet and lifestyle are so foundational that we would need to make any adjustments needed rather than just throwing a plant at the problem. This should also be true when applying drugs like Zantac


Filipendula ulmaria:

Meadowsweet is also known by its Latin name Filipendula is one of the few plants we would consider an antacid. This plant also acts as an anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic and is protective of the mucosal barrier (Bone, 2007). Specific indications for Meadowsweet include:

  • dyspepsia
  • IBS
  • soothing the mucous membranes (Bone, 2007)
  • gastrointestinal inflammation
  • muscle and joint pain
  • and urinary tract inflammation (PRC, 2018)


Some of the active constituents inside of Filipendula include quercetin and salicylic acid. Both have been highly researched. This plant should be taken with caution for people who have a sensitivity to salicylates, like Asprin


Matricaria recutita:


One of the most underrated herbs used around the US and Canada would be Chamomile.  This plant has a relaxing/sedating effect and is also anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer. Chamomile is also mildly bitter and acts as a carminative to help break down and expel gas (PRC, 2018).  Some specific applications for chamomile include:

  • IBS
  • flatulent colic
  • colitis
  • gastritis
  • mouth ulcers and
  • wounds (Bone, 2007)



Calendula officinalis:

One of the most common plants found in a medical herbalist dispensary is the beautiful Calendula. We use the flower of this plant. The active constituents that help reduce inflammation include the resins, triterpenoid saponins and the flavonoids: kaempferol and quercetin (PRC, 2018).


This plant is very versatile and is commonly used for many topical applications including but not limited to diaper rash, cradle cap, eczema, cuts and scrapes. More specifically we also take Calendula internally for digestive inflammation and ulcers as well as inflammation in the small and large intestine. There is also a use for the calendula in the cases of eczema and acne as it has depurative properties.


Glycyrrhiza glabra:

Another versatile herb that we use to help with many different symptoms and conditions is Licorice. Licorice is:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • protective to the stomach and the intestinal lining
  • demulcent
  • anti-ulcer
  • it is expectorant
  • mildly laxative.


Gastrointestinal issues we tend to use licorice for are: ulcers, GERD, gastritis and to reduce inflammation of the gastric mucosa (PRC,2018).  Since Licorice is mildly laxative, we would also use it to stimulate bile flow and to help with constipation.


Some non-gastrointestinal applications that we would use Licorice for include: chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, respiratory problems, and topically for viral infections like shingles and chickenpox.


Though Licorice is widely popular there are some specific contraindications to be aware of.   Licorice is not recommended for people who have edema, who are dealing with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure (Bone, 2007).


Herbal medicine can be used to help with symptoms for many different varieties of gastrointestinal issues. If there are any questions or comments please feel free to reach out and speak with an herbalist near you or through this blog.


David is a Medical Herbalist practicing on Vancouver Island.  His holistic health path has led him to work with many different people operating a general practice at Apotheka Herbal Boutique with access to over 150 plants. He has a special interest and focuses his study working with families, including children, athletes and men’s health.  If you are interested please message for a free 15-minute phone consult to see how herbal medicine might be helpful for you.




Rettner, R Sept. 16th, 2017; Zantac found to contain traces of cancer-causing chemical; https://www.foxnews.com/health/zantac-found-to-contain-traces-of-cancer-causing-chemical


Knott, L Oct. 2017; Dyspepsia https://patient.info/doctor/dyspepsia-pro


Heidelbaugh, J June 2013; University of Michigan; Proton pump inhibitors and risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency: evidence and clinical implications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110863/


PRC Monograph Sept. 2018, Pacific Rim College, Victoria, BC


Bone, K July 2007, Warwick Queensland-Phytotherapy press The Ultimate Herbal Compendium

Photos complimentary Pacific Rim College Monographs.

Canva null scaled

What is the Difference Between a Naturopath (ND) and a Medical Herbalist (RHT)?

Do You Need a Naturopath or a Medical Herbalist?
By David Shaw

The holistic health world has always been with us to some extent or another. Speaking with seasoned herbalists and older patients, they both mention that the options for a more natural approach in health care have been there; although elusive. A compounding effect seems to have taken place over the past 15 years in the holistic world. More people are venturing away from conventional medicine with more education around preventative care like diet and lifestyle choices. This is where the newest profession of Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in the health field has been developed and the colleges of Holistic Medicine have sprung up in North America. Working with patients over the past 3 years I have come across very specific differences between ND’s and Medical Herbalists (RHT)/Holistic Nutritionist (HNC), not just in our approach and “prescriptions” but also training.

Comparing ND and RHT side by side:

Below is a table breaking down the training provided by two different colleges, one an ND curriculum and the other an RHT/HNC program. The table below has been condensed to their specific categories. More information explaining the naturopathic therapeutics is below the table.

ND Training RHT; HNC
Biomedical/Western Diagnosis: ND -3742hrs.    RHT -525hrs
Nutrition:    ND-144hrs.     RHT -675hrs.
Herbal Medicine, Ayurveda/TCM: ND(**)    RHT -1080hrs.
Clinical Practice:    ND~1200 hrs.        RHT~860 hrs.
Naturopathic Therapeutics: 588hrs.***
** N/A

***Naturopathic Therapeutics total of 588 hours includes Herbal medicine, Homeopathy, TCM, Hydrotherapy, ND Manipulative therapy, Ayurveda, Case analysis, ND Philosophy. (See references for resources)

The two biggest differences between the two health professions is the study in Biomedical studies and then Holistic therapeutics.

The course content for ND’s in the biomedical/Western Diagnosis is very extensive and detailed (list of courses are in the notes). This is the training that specifically qualifies them to practice within the conventional medicine world. On top of that training, they can also opt-in for additional training to be able to prescribe pharmaceuticals. The RHT/HNC are taught the fundamentals of Biomedical/western diagnosis introducing the student to anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, all diagnostic tests and results, western pharmacology and more. A lot of the same topics are covered within the Biomedical sciences comparing the two programs- with the ND spending more time on each topic.

Medical herbalist training:

The time spent training a Medical Herbalist on Materia Medica – an in-depth study of each individual plant is extraordinary. This time is spent learning the properties of more than180 plants that would be in a dispensary including therapeutic applications, specific applications to conditions, contra-indications, dosage and the current scientific research. The therapeutic application is further explored in a separate curriculum learning how to apply plant medicine to a specific disease. In comparison to an ND, the time spent is not proportionate. The same can be said with the difference in time spent in studying nutrition and the therapeutic application.
The HNC studies holistic nutrition in-depth:
– Proper diet
– Therapeutic application
– Supplemental advice
– Diet analysis
– Meal planning

Clinic hours comparison:

The clinical practice acquired while in college is fairly similar. The ND college provides about 300 more hours. This time is spent gaining experience working with patients, learning constitution differences, applying integrative physical examination and ethical patient communication.

Regulating bodies and government oversight:

There is quite a difference between a Medical Herbalist and Naturopathic Doctor and both are viewed differently in the eyes of the government and overseen by different regulating bodies. Naturopathic Doctors must complete a board exam coming out of college to meet the standards of their regulating body, The College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia. Similarly, to complete the Medical Herbalist programs some colleges will require a live observation of a new herbalist in front of a medical doctor and other herbalists.
Medical Herbalists also have a Regulating Body in British Columbia known as the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of British Columbia. This is where the designation of Registered Herbal Therapist or RHT is obtained. Standards are set and overseen by this organization so that a person who attends a two-week intensive course on herbal medicine is held to the same standard as a person who spent 3 years in training.
Another difference between the two regulating bodies is that one is recognized by the Canadian federal government and one is not. This is how ND’s are able to direct bill insurance for the patient who has extended coverage and the care provided by a Medical Herbalist is always out of pocket for the patient.

The right practitioner for your approach:

It is important to find a health care provider that appeals to your goals. For a lot of people, the conventional model using pharmaceuticals is the right approach. People are making a turn towards preventative care and alternative approaches to healing and that’s where the Naturopathic Doctor and Medical Herbalist come in. The ND and RHT are bringing both worlds together being able to bridge conventional medications and alternative therapies. The ND has a wide range of training in a lot of different fields with some deciding to specialize in one field or another.  A Medical Herbalist is the specialist in applying herbal medicine to a diagnosed and/or suspected condition.  A lot of times ND’s and RHT’s work together for the benefit of the patient and to provide comprehensive care.  In the holistic health world, the bottom line is and should always be the patient, nothing more.

What to expect from a Herbal Medicine consultation?

Medical Herbalists are outside of the conventional bubble. When it is necessary, we like to work directly with other health care providers to have a comprehensive approach. We are able to use the tools and diagnosis provided from conventional medicine and apply specific and appropriate plants to facilitate healing. Our environment and the food we eat are so fundamental that a health picture wouldn’t be complete without looking in these areas for each individual person.


Inside an Herbal Medicine consultation, you can expect:

  • 60 – 90-minute consultation
  • Complete health background and health concern intake
  • Diet review and adjustments as you feel necessary
  • Diet analysis and meal planning to fit your goals (optional)
  • A comprehensive exploration of each body system: everything from the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous and digestive systems, et
  • Complete review and understanding of all conventional diagnostic tools like lab work
  • Supplement analysis and adjustment where you/we feel necessary.
  • Specific herbal remedy(s) recommendations


David is a Medical Herbalist practicing on Vancouver Island.  His holistic health path has led him to work with many different people operating a general practice at Apotheka Herbal Boutique with access to over 150 plants. He has a special interest and focuses his study working with families, including children, athletes and men’s health.


Naturopathic Medical Education Comparative Curricula – National College of Naturopathic Medicine PDF – https://www.bcna.ca/documents/comparativecurriculacombined.pdf

Pacific Rim College 2019 – Website; Dual Diploma of Phytotherapy and Holistic Nutrition Course Overview and Curriculum

Naturopathic Medicine – Regulating Body Province of British Columbia – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/professional-regulation/naturopathic-medicine