A seed for unlimited innovation: Herbs, Nutraceuticals & Supplements©

December 19, 2019

Student pouring herbal concoction into bottle


By Anna M. Pakhomova BS ’19

One reason I applied to NYU Meyers after comparing nursing schools was to take an elective called Herbs, Nutraceuticals & Supplements©. Even while stepping into the western medical field, I was cautious to maintain a sense of the bigger picture—that health means different things to different people. This concern was confirmed in my coursework, as learning often focused on the in-patient hospital setting. A hospital can feel like a huge machine, too large to see a beginning or end, where the nurse is one short stop in the course of an individual’s health. It is often easy to forget that this system is based on dogma — one belief set among many. By taking the elective, I intended to acquire a more holistic sense of the patient and open my mind to different cultural, historical, and personal perceptions of health.

While one can feel like they are operating at a deficit in the hospital setting, perhaps due to resource, time, or staff constraints, this class offered an almost indulgent avenue for practicing and understanding healthcare. The course analyzed the unique benefits and challenges to self-initiated medicine in terms of health, safety, and communication through a western medical lens. While lectures approached alternative systems of medicine from a rigorous evidence-based viewpoint, there was a strong tactile component, including the study of exotic herbs and treatments, such as Manuka honey, teas, and turmeric chips.


Student straining herbal concoctionStudents pouring herbal concoctions

Tins filled with herbal salves






A great example of this learning environment was our herbal therapies class, where we prepared, tinctured, and titrated herbal concoctions, making a sports liniment and lavender hand salve. It offered an inventive perspective on nursing. As much of the career seems task-oriented, one can take for granted the expertise nurses acquire that applies to a larger scope of practice.

The course utilized the body of knowledge from our requisite classes to inspire enterprise in medicine. I recall Prof. Joyce Anastasi saying, “We have the tools and knowledge necessary for unlimited innovation.” While the class expanded my grasp of what health means to the patient, it also planted a seed for my entrepreneurial potential in healthcare.

Photos: There are several steps involved in making herbal products. In this exercise, students pour a decocted herbal formulation into containers. The liquid contains beeswax, which will serve as a hardener for a skin salve.