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NS 139: Plants and Human Health

Greetings and welcome to NS 139: Plants and Human Health. In this course we will examine what "everyone knows" about a variety of herbs and other plants, look at the chemicals that are responsible for herbs' reputed healing effects, and examine how herbal medicines and other plants might be beneficial or detrimental to your health.

We will read a variety of secondary articles and then compare this information with what is in the scientific literature. Assigned reading will be from Mann and other books required for the course; all assignments are listed on the course websitet. Some readings may be placed on reserve in the Hampshire Library as needed. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the reading. You are responsible for all material and announcements made in class, and extra handouts will be available outside NL's office on the south end of CSC.

Evaluations will be based on class attendance and participation, on-time completion of assigned work, participation in the class debate and presentations, and completion of a self-evaluation.


Rough outline for NS 139: Plants and Human Health
[Subject to change at a moment's notice]

This list provides only a rough outline of topics and readings;
the day-by-day syllabus will be on the course website.

First Class: Introductions and general discussion of plants and their effect on human health
Assignment for next class: Time for a tonic; Medicines and drugs from plants; Herbal medicine. Browse: Foster: Medicinal Plants.

Class: Healing effects of herbs
Assignment for next class: : Toxic effects of herbal teas; Natural toxicants in plant foods; Plants fight back. Browse: Foster: Poisonous Plants.

First paper assignment: A two page overview on the beneficial and toxic effects of an herbal remedy of your choice. Use at least three references.

First presentation assignment: Coffee tea, chocolate.
Class: Toxic effects of plants
Reading for next class: Medicine and the media; How to interpret health news; more on reserve
Class: Discussion of scientific information
Due: The two page paper.
Assignment for a future class: Some specifics: chamomile, echinacea; foxglove. I will divide you into three groups for reporting. Use references from class as well as those you find yourselves.
Class presentations on coffee, tea, chocolate.

Class: Short group reports
Assignment for the next class: Two chapters from Agosta (reserve) on the chemical nature of whatšs in plants.

Class Chemicals in plants
Assignment for the next class: Chimps and the herbal medicine saga. Browse: Atkins (on my cart)
Class presentations on herbs..
Class: Discussion of chimp articles.
LibraryAssignment for the next class: An index card with the name of a plant you will want to research.Draw on the reading and the texts in choosing your topic
Library class
Assignment for the next class: Ames article. Come prepared to discuss it section by section.
Due in a week: A five page article on an herbal remedy of your choice. You must use at least two primary articles.

Class: Discussion of Ames article
Assignment for the next class: TBA.
Reread: Plants fight back

Due today: The five page paper.

Class: Catch-up class.
Assignment for the next class: Mann: Introduction

Class: Discussion of Mann.
Assignment for next two classes: Section on medicinal uses of marijuana.

Class: Discussion of final papers
Due in a week:: A five papge paper on a plant toxin of your choice. It must have at least three primary references

Class: Planning for debate. I will arbitrarily divide you into four groups.
Assignment for next class: Continue with the medical uses of marijuana

Class: Debate on the medicinal use of marijuana.
Assignment for the next class: 2 pages on ideas for a final paper. Include references.
Read: Mann chapter on magic

Special Haloween class. (fall semester)
Assignment for the next class: Mann on murder

Class: Benefits and toxicity of plants revisited.
Assignment for the next class: Mann on medicine; selections from Agosta.

Class: Discussion of Mann, Agosta.
Due today: The 5 page paper on a poison.
Class: Reports on progress on final papers.
Assignment purely for fun: Rappachinišs Daughter
No class; work on papers, The TA and I will be available in the classroom for consultation.
No class; work on papers, The TA and I will be availavble in the classroom for consultation. Class: In-class planning for presentations
Student presentations Student presentations
Last class. Special topic and course appropriate food.
Due today: Final paper, self-evaluation


Plants and Human Health - Sample Final Paper Topics

Smoking/Tobacco Chocolate And Learning Disabilities The Placebo Effect
Treatments For Opioid Addiction - Methadone Or Acupuncture Chocolate As A HealthFood Chokecherries
Medical Marijuana Wine As A Health Food Salvia
Caffeine And Asthma Alternative Treatments For Menopause Poison Ivy
Herbal Contraceptives and Abortifaecients Ayahuasca Vanilla
Lavender Mosquito Repellants Red Wine
Calcium from Plants Saint Johnswort Peppers
Digitalis Absinthe Nutmeg
Caffeine And Behavior Diet And Kidney Stones Peyote
  Echinaceašs Other Uses Datura

Professor Nancy Lowry, (413)559-5581,
School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002