So, you want to be an Herbalist? Up until a few years ago I wasn’t even sure what that meant. Sure, I have a degree in chemical engineering and took my fair share of chemistry and biology classes in college, but would another college degree be required to practice herbalism?
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THE INTERNET HERBALIST?
I have been using and sharing herbal remedies for the better part of my adulthood. For the most part I stuck with tried and true remedies I grew up with and added a few more from books I’d purchased or articles I’d read. If there was a remedy that I didn’t have experience with, the internet quickly became my best friend, but would a general web search provide the best information?
It is true that there are a multitude of resources available free online to provide some information when you want to look up a particular herb or ailment, and many herbalists have blogs to share their recipes for teas, tinctures, and salves. This info sufficed for a time, but in order to confidently suggest herbal products to support the wellness of my natural bio-energetics clients, I knew it was time to formalize my training. Given how important and influential I believe herbs are in supporting mind-body balance, it was just a question of finding the right program of study.
FORMALIZING YOUR HERBALIST EDUCATION
In the true form of an engineer, I hunkered down and did EXTENSIVE research into the types of formal herbal education available both online and in-person. My biggest resource for reviewing programs was the American Herbalists Guild’s Directory of Herbal Education. This very comprehensive list of herbal education programs proved to me that the path to becoming an herbalist could be as unique as the individual seeking to formalize their herbal studies. My first thought was to enroll in a master’s degree program. Excellent master’s degree programs in Clinical Herbal Medicine and Herbal Product Design and Manufacture are offered by Maryland University of Integrative Health, but at considerable cost. While this option may be right for you, it wasn’t the financial commitment I was ready to make at the time.
WHAT ABOUT A CERTIFICATE HERBALIST PROGRAM?
Next, I dug deeper into what online certificate programs were available. [Note that, because the field of herbalism is not officially regulated by any specific set of standards or governing body in the U.S., one can study in herbalism courses for a certificate of completion, but one cannot become a “certified herbalist.” Read more about that in this article by Herbal Academy.] After considering the many online programs available, I made a decision I’m very happy with to learn from the Herbal Academy. To date, I’ve completed several of their courses on the path to becoming a clinical herbalist. In addition, the Herbal Academy recently released a number of short course intensives, like Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management and their highly popular Botany & Wildcrafting Course, which are excellent for more focused study in a certain area.
I won’t lie though, there are many options for formal online herbal training and the decision was not an easy one. In the end, after much research, I decided on the Herbal Academy because of the quality of their programs and the high standing of their instructors within the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), “founded in 1989 as a non-profit, educational organization to represent the goals and voices of herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants (excerpted from the AHG website)”. Another deciding factor for me was the flexible option to delay the course start dates with the “start course” button so that I could purchase a “Path” at a discount (with payment plan) and start each program when I was ready to dedicate the time needed to complete the course. Each program also allows ample time to access the course in order to complete it. Finally, the Herbal Academy is influential in building a community of herbalists through their use of a student community forum and social media #myherbalstudies
LEARN MORE ABOUT STUDYING AND PRACTICING HERBALISM
Not sure if studying herbalism or the Herbal Academy and their course offerings are right for you? An excellent way to learn more about this field of study while testing out the presentation and professionalism of their programs is through the Herbal Academy’s FREE Becoming an Herbalist Mini Course . Though I wish it had been, this course offering wasn’t available before I started my herbal studies with the Herbal Academy. I decided to take the course mid-way through my herbal studies because of all the amazing information provided on navigating the legal, ethical, and logistical considerations of using herbs that is included in the course in a very detailed and easy to understand format.
UPDATE 17 April2020
During the caronavirus pandemic, the Herbal Academy is making a gesture of goodwill to you who may be suffering financial hardship at this time and offering their foundational programs at 50% off for a limited time.
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After a great deal of research, I decided on studying Clinical Herbalism with the Herbal Academy of New England to enrich my knowledge of the production and use of herbal products.
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