The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

March 2010 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Schizandra - The 5 Flavor Herb
  • A Botanists Guide to NYC's Chinatown - Special NYC Walking Tour  April 3, 2010
  • Books on Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • The 2010 Botanical Medicine Program - Early Bird discount available through March 31, 2010
  • The Herbal Bear Classes

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Legislative Alert Regarding Widspread Use of GM Alphalfa


Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa seed has been banned since 2007. But the USDA is scheduled to approve its use this spring. Care to weigh in on the federal agency's actions? You've got through tomorrow, March 3, to get your comments in.

Elderberry fruits 

(Schisandra chinensis)
By Ursula Basch                                                                           
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

 Schisandra is a creeping woody vine native to East Asia. It has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where its Chinese name, wu wei zi means the five tasting fruit. 


The fruit encompasses all the the classic Chinese tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, hot and sour. The Schizandra fruit is rich in trace minerals vitamins and phytochemicals.

The part of the plant utilized for medicinal purposes are the small berries, which are bright red in color. Schisandra is considered to be antibacterial,  a cardiac tonic, antioxidant, and anti-depressant.  The fruit also contains phyto-estrogens which may explain why it is used in TCM (as part of the Shenlai San herbal mixture)  for menopausal women who have cardiac disease. In animal research it has been shown that increases cardiac contractility without affecting blood pressure.

Chinese research suggests that Schisandra and other lignans have a protective effect on the liver and an immunomodulating effect. Two human trials in China (one double-blind and the other preliminary) have shown that Schizandra may help people with chronic viral. Schisandra lignans appear to protect the liver by activating the enzymes that produce glutathione.

Schisandra has been reported to increase two liver enzymes, CPY 450 and CYP3A and may interfere with drugs that are metabolized by these enzymes.  Always consult your physician if you are taking prescription medications before using herbal remedies.

Zhu M, et al. Evaluation of the protective effects of schisandra chinensis on phase I drug metabolism using a CCl4 intoxication model. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:61-8.

Zhu M, et al. Improvement of phase I drug metabolism with schisandra chinensis against CCl4 hepatotoxicity in a rat model. Planta Med

You JS, Pan TL, Hou YC. Schisandra chinensis protects against adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity in rats. Chang Gung Med J 2006; 29(1): 63-70.


Click picture to register for tour.

***Special Walking Tour - Chinatown in NYC***

A Botanist's Guide to NYC's Chinatown 
Date & Time:  Saturday, April 3, 2010; 10:00am - 1:30pm
Location:  Meeting Location TBA
Cost:  $125.00 (includes lunch)

Have you ever walked into Chinatown and wondered what all those wild and exotic fruits and vegetable were?
Do you have an interest in plants and Botany - but really really dont know where to start?

Come join botanist Susan Pell and herbalist Ursula Basch for a fun walk in NYCs Chinatown exploring the fruit, vegetable and herb markets. We will spend the morning describing and purchasing some examples of exotic produce, lunch at a local chinese eatery where students will able sample some of the exotic produce we have purchased.

You may wish to bring your grocery bag and shop along with us! (please note the price of your personal purchases are not included in the class cost).

Click on the picture above to register.


chinese books

Some books on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that may be of of interest:


(All titles below have a link to


The Web That Has No Weaver : Understanding Chinese Medicine 


The Way of Chinese Herbs


Asian Health Secrets: The Complete Guide to Asian Herbal Medicine 


Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition

The Chinese Herbal Cookbook: Healing Foods from East and West



Save $300 off our full program cost if you register by April 1, 2010

2010 Botanical Medicine Program  Student gathering herbs

A six weekend intensive program for those interested in a well rounded education in herbal studies. This class is designed to give  students a solid foundation in herbalism.  Each class we will learn about herbs for the different systems including: the digestive, nervous, cardiac, reproductive, and immune system.  Students will learn plant identification, harvesting techniques, medicinal plant preparations and herbal formula development.   This class is held in the Northern Catskills on a private 30 acre property.  Many of the medicinal plants we study are growing in our gardens or found on our property.  Unlike other herbals classes, this class incorporates field work with the plants.  You will be able to see, study and harvest medicinal plants throughout the entire growing season.  This class is designed for beginning and intermediate herbal students. For a full description of this class - please follow this link

Program Dates

The 2010 Botanical Medicine Program meets for all of the following dates:

Saturday, June 12th - Sunday June 13th, 2010
Saturday July 10th - Sunday July 11th, 2010
Saturday August 14th - Sunday August 15th, 2010
Saturday September 11th - Sunday Sept 12th, 2010
Saturday October 2nd - Sunday October 3rd, 2010
Saturday October 23rd - Sunday October 24th, 2010

Early Registration until April 1, 2010 -  $2850.00

If you have any specific questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us


Upcoming Classes:

The following classes are listed by program dates. To view classes listed by location please see our programs page. To view a full description of the class or to register on line for any class please click on the individual class.

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