Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Herbal Science: From Field to Consumer

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit gives an insight of how herbs occur in the environment (wild or cultivated), how these are treated to prepare valuable products and then how these are used as medicines, food supplements and cosmetics. With an increase in media sources, the distinction between these three categories is becoming more and more complicated. The Unit will tackle the historical, legal and scientific aspects of herb use. The botanical characterisation of plants and plant parts, the phytochemicals that are stored and potential effects will be discussed.

This Unit aims at helping students develop essential skills to understand and identify essential information on a herbal product and judge whether the product is safe or not. The student will recognise the importance of collecting or cultivating the right herb, using the right means and understanding the value of the finished product. This not simply an appreciation Unit, but a unit that combines the sociological and economic aspects to the science of herb use.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Understand the origins (history) of herbal use; food, medicine and cosmetic uses in particular;
- Name and describe the main families of the Plant Kingdom in particular Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Rosaceae, Fabacaea, Lilaceae, Cucurbitacae amongst others;
- Identify the different plant parts of a plant and understand how these contribute to the preparation of herbal products;
- Distinguish between substances that are produced via primary and secondary metabolism;
- Compare and contrast metabolites falling under different phytochemical classes. This will be explained in simple terms;
- Distinguish between in vivo (cultivation) and in vitro (micropropagation) practices for typical plants;
- Distinguish between in situ and ex situ conservation and recognize the importance of herbaria;
- Understand different forms of alternative therapies that are significantly practised within Europe and Asian countries.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Apply the principles of ethnobotany;
- Identify plants and plant parts, and describe their macroscopic characteristics;
- Classify any simple compound as a primary or secondary metabolite;
- Devise a rational understanding of ways plants can enhance their metabolite activity;
- Plan and organise a herb garden for demonstration purposes and map a herb biotope in nature;
- Provide a reasonable explanation of the different forms of therapy with herbal products.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Heinrich M. et al. Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy; Churchill Livingstone, 2004. 309 p. 0-443-07132-2.
- Lecture notes.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Fieldwork, Lectures and Practicum

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Everaldo Attard

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.