Demystifying and Evaluating Herbal Research: A Primer for Students and Practitioners of Herbalism

Dates/Times: Mondays: February 1, 8, 15, 22; 7-9pm EST

Join Erika Galentin, MNIMH, RH (AHG) for a four-part webinar series designed to demystify scientific research into medicinal plants. Taking guidance from an evidence-based practice approach, participants of this series will be introduced to skills of how to critically evaluate scientific research and incorporate such research into their therapeutic rationale. This webinar series seeks to explain, in simple terms, the different forms of scientific research commonly referenced by the herbalism and natural products industry, providing guidance on how to discern the relevance of such research in regards to the safe and effective use of medicinal herbs in both self-care and clinical settings. Whether you are a student of herbalism or a seasoned practitioner, this webinar series provides a strong and empowering foundation for incorporating scientific research into your therapeutic rationale whilst preserving and fortifying knowledge from both traditional use and personal experience.


Core topics:

  • Exploring the philosophy and world-view of the Western scientific method in its acquisition of knowledge about medicinal plants and possible limitations in regards to the practice of herbalism.
  • The difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources and why paying attention to this is important.
  • Searching skills for published research using online research databases and internet search engines as well as ‘following the paper trail’.
  • ‘Anatomy’ of scientific research papers and their various sections, what to look out for in each section, and why we must look beyond the abstract before using research to guide medicinal plant choices.
  • Common terms and concepts used in the interpretation and presentation of study data including a discussion on interpreting the merits of study design and methodology as well as navigating the results section.
  • The culture of scientific publication (specifically the medical sciences) and why the process of evaluating scientific research must begin with the journal a paper is published in.
  • Sources of bias in pharmacological research including funding sources, conflicts of interest, and disclosures. Other sources of bias in publishing as well as referencing scientific research including acknowledging the confirmation bias of ‘cherry picking’ research.
  • Defining important differences between pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic research within the interdisciplinary field of pharmacology and how and why this research is investigating medicinal plants and their constituents.
  • Different types of study designs, such as in vitro, in vivo animal studies, pilot studies, human clinical trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses and their strengths and weaknesses in regards to evaluating the safety and efficacy of medicinal plants. Differences in relevance of research on isolated constituents versus whole plant extracts.
  • The ‘Hierarchy of Research’ vs ‘Levels of Evidence’ and the clinical relevance of different types of medicinal plant research.
  • Exploring an evidence-based framework as applicable to the practice of herbalism and the skills that can be acquired through using this framework in applying scientific research to clinical practice. How good quality research can augment traditional knowledge and personal/clinical experience. 
  • The importance of referencing research publications in writing and teaching.


About Erika Galentin, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

Erika is a Clinical Herbalist and an ITEC certified Clinical Aromatherapist consulting from Sovereignty Herbs in Athens & Columbus, OH. She holds a degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, Glasgow, UK. She is a professional member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) and the American Herbalists Guild (USA). She is also a proud member of Pi Alpha Xi National Honor Society in Horticulture (USA).


Over a decade of clinical practice has provided a platform for witnessing the efficacy of medicinal plants and aromatics within a clinical environment. It is through this clinical practice that Erika seeks to encourage positive, learned relationships between plants and people and people and their bodies. She is a firm believer in celebrating the role that emotions and the psyche play in the ecology of our physical terrain. Erika is also deeply passionate about the history of botanical medicine in the United States as depicted by the American Botanical Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and has built her clinical philosophy around the principles and practice of Physiomedical and Eclectic traditions.


In addition to clinical practice, Erika is both a student and teacher of horticulture, native medicinal plant conservation and ecology, and the phenomenological and Goethean study of plants and their medicinal virtues. With her dedication to medicinal plants native to Ohio and the Greater Appalachian region, Erika teaches, lectures and writes on native medicinal plant conservation and applied ecology, propagation, herbalism, and clinical efficacy. She also participates as a member of the Education Committee of the American Herbalists Guild as well as the Stewardship Committee of Appalachia Ohio Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of land and water in Southeast Ohio.

She is the author of The Family Guide to Aromatherapy: A Safe Approach to Essential Oils for a Holistic Home


You can follow Erika on Facebook and Instagram: @sovereigntyherbs