International Conference – Day 1 Highlights

Day 1 of the 8th International Conference on Herbal Medicine in Melbourne, had a great line up of speakers. The highlights for me were talks from Simon Mills, Justin Sinclair, and Hans Wohlmuth.

Simon Mills

After the great opening speech by Erica McIntyre (Vice-President, NHAA), Simon Mills from the United Kingdom gave us some food for thought. For me it was particularly interesting to hear Simon tracing some of his ideas and attitudes towards the profession over the decades of his involvement.

My first contact with Simon was as a final year student attending one of his talks more than 20 years ago, and I was inspired by not only his knowledge but also his attitude towards the profession. So seeing that attitude evolve over the last two decades has been very educational and informative.

Justin Sinclair

Later in the day Justin Sinclair (Queensland) gave a fascinating presentation on Alchemy and Spagyric tinctures. Justin was a student of mine at ACNT many years ago and we have stayed in contact ever since. It was great to see him pursuing such a different and fascinating area of herbal medicine, and opening all of our eyes to an aspect of the history and philosophy of herbal medicine that has often been concealed.

Hans Wohlmuth

Towards the end of the afternoon, Hans Wohlmuth (Southern Cross University, NSW) presented the findings of some interesting phytochemical research into Glycyrrhiza glabra. Hans was my 2nd year teacher and pharmacognosy lecturer when I trained, and must have seen my fascination with the subject as he gave me some guest lecturing at Nature Care years later, and eventually I took his place as the pharmacognosy teacher when he left for Lismore. I have always loved Hans’ very pragmatic approach, as well as his dry sense of humour!

Hans raised the question of how much glycyrrhetic acid is actually in a number of Australian confectionary products as well as herbal extracts, and how does that relate to the safe upper limit of glycyrrhetic acid dosing per day. So in typical Hans fashion he conducted a phytochemical analysis to answer that question. The results were fascinating, and showed huge variation across both confectionary and herbal extracts. I look forward to reading the full paper.

Tomorrow is looking to be another interesting day, and I have the good fortune to chair a panel of eminent educators, clinicians and researchers in a discussion of the priorities in research and education of herbal medicine and naturopathy.


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Copyright Ian Breakspear, 2014