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Clinical Materia Medica I:

Materia Medica Differentials and Herbal Analogues 


In this course we will describe and differentiate:

  • Nutritive herbs, with humoral differentials

  • Demulcent herbs with differentiation between bitter and sweet and superficial vs constitutional effects

  • Topical herbs, with differentials by humoral effect, and also five types of action on chronic biofilm infections.

  • Nervine herbs with differentials for warming, cooling, drying, and demulcent.

  • Anodynes, with differentials by humoral effect, effect on spasm, and tissue types for antispasmodics.

  • Differentials and analogues among the 3 Cohosh plants

  • The Mints, with differentials for bitter vs sweet, effects on the pattern of constrained liver chi, and for anti-herpes and antifungal effects, and effects on the cardiovascular system.

  • Expectorants, with differentials based on stimulating vs relaxing effects on the membranes.

  • Hot herbs, with differentials for anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and aphrodisiac effects.

  • Urinary tract differentials for heating vs cooling, diuretic strength, stimulating vs relaxing.

  • Bitter herb differentials including strength, tonic-astringency, aromatic properties, and sedative or laxative effects.

  • Alterative differentials, including effects on the liver, the bowel, the kidney, the immune system, and digestion.

  • Berberine-containing herbs, with differentiation between plants with companion-alkaloids.

  • Adaptogen differentials, including stimulation, tonification, and effects on the immune and reproductive systems.

A complete study of materia medica goes far deeper than the this-for-that model of herbalism. For effective clinical use, and to avoid adverse humoral/energetic effects, an herb must be understood in the categories of humoral and energetic effects, including hot vs. cold, moist vs dry, tension vs relaxation, in addition to definite clinical actions, tissues affected, uses, and useful combinations and formulas. With this depth of study, we find that herbs can be recognized in groups that have very similar effects, and may be interchanged as analogues clinically. In this course we describe more than 30 such “herbal affinity groups” of more than 100 herbs, show how the herbs within the group may be used as analogues, and describe differentials between them. This course is the culmination of in-depth study of comparative materia medica at the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism over a period of 25 years.



With this course you receive 10 hours of audio files for the 16 lessons, more than 230 slides to accompany the lectures, supplementary notes, readings, references and a digital library of classic texts in medical herbalism.  The course comes with a Study Guide and Continuing Education questions. Students enrolled in our courses are also eligible for a 10% discount on purchases at Mountain Rose Herbs.




Lesson 1  Materia Medica Study

Lesson 2  Nutritive Herb Differentials

Lesson 3  Demulcent Herb Differentials

Lesson 4  Topical Herb Differentials

Lesson 5  Nervine Herb Differentials

Lesson 6  Anodyne Herb Differentials

Lesson 7  Cohosh Differentials

Lesson 8  Mint Herb Differentials

Lesson 9  Liver Chi Differentials

Lesson10  Expectorant Differentials

Lesson 11 Hot Herb Differentials

Lesson 12  Urinary Herb Differentials

Lesson 13  Bitter Herb Differentials

Lesson 14  Alterative Herb Differentials

Lesson 15  Adaptogen Differentials

Further down on this page you can find Faculty Biographies.


Enrollment for Credit 


To enroll in the course, receive a faculty mentor, and to earn the Continuing Education certificate, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase the course materials in our online store. The materials may be purchased for self-study without further enrollment in the course or tuition. 

  2. When you receive materials, print out the application form or scan it to email. Send it in with the $145 tuition, or make the payment at the school store. 

  3. This entitles you to assignment of a faculty mentor for 12 weeks after we notify you that your enrollment is accepted. You may also request and extension. 

  4. Read the instructions for obtaining CE credit in the read-me-first file with the notes.

  5. Look over the CE questions and review them before listening to the audio. 

  6. Complete any assignments or readings and answer the CE questions for each lesson.

  7. You will receive a certificate reflecting 21 hours of CE credit.


The recorded lectures were delivered by NAIMH Director Paul Bergner in classroom settings, edited and supplemented with studio portions. If you enroll, you will also be assigned a faculty mentor. All our faculty are fully qualified clinical nutritionists as well as medical herbalists. Click here to see Faculty biographies. 

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About This Course
  Hours:    30 CEU
Term:      12 weeks
Materials:     $109
Tuition:    $145 (optional)

This course may be taken stand-alone, or as a  course in the Advanced Clinical Skills Certificate

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