Purdue University-University of Alabama at Birmingham

Botanicals Center for Dietary Supplements Research


Joint Seminar on Chinese Medicine (Flyer)
UAB in cooperation with Samford University School of Medicine welcomes two distinguished scholars of Chinese Medicine to Birmingham. Read more.
Honors Course

"What Practitioners Need to Know About Herbal Medicine" is a Scholars' Week course offered twice a year in the UAB School of Medicine. It meets in the Reynolds Library reading room, third floor of Lister Hill Library. Meeting times are from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm Monday through Thursday and on Friday from 8:00 to 11:00 am. The afternoons are for independent work on the research papers (see below). The text on this subject is America's botanico-medical movements : vox populi / Alex Berman, Michael A. Flannery, Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2001.

Students are assessed on the basis of a 10-12-page monograph on a selected botanical and oral presentation of preliminary findings.

Botanicals and dietary supplements are widely used in the USA even in the 21st century. The bioactive compounds in these materials are frequently poorly controlled, as is the knowledge base concerning how they work. It is estimated that 40-50% of patients encountering chronic disease start by using botanicals or dietary supplements. Although the use of botanicals has had a long history in the development of medicine, the teaching of pharmacognosy has dwindled in recent years. As a result, most practitioners are ill-equipped to evaluate what their patients are taking. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to not only resolve potential serious side effects due to interactions between drugs and botanicals, but also to take advantage of the beneficial effects of the botanicals.

The goal of this course is to provide an historical basis for the rise and fall of botanical movements and to trace the reemergence of certain botanicals that form part of the dietary supplements that are permitted under the Dietary Health, Education and Safety Act (DSHEA) of 1994. The latter involve discussion of what DSHEA allows and what is(are) the role(s) of the FDA and FTC. Systematic laboratory and clinical research of botanicals and dietary supplements has developed in the past 15-20 years. The course also addresses the mechanisms of the bioactives and the increasing quality of research in this area.

2008 classes