HerbNet....for everything herbal


Ask the Herbalist - On becoming an Herbalist

Your banner could be here.....email for details


QUESTION: I am interested in learning more about Herbology and  I am trying to find a  program.   I live in the New York area , and after an exhaustive search, it appears  an on line program is the only alternative.  I would prefer to attend  a school, but they are not in commuting distance.  I contacted the Herbal Guild  and spoke with  Tracy Romm , who was helpful, however, I am still not sure which  program to take. I understand Herbologist are not recognized in the U.S., without an additional degree in
acupuncture, or Oriental Medicine. However, I would like the program to be accepted by the Guild, and recognized  and respected by the herbalist community.  I do not want to practice, but I would like to  use the information to help family and friends.  I am  also interested in the possibility of investing in an herbal company, or farm.  I would  enjoy learning more about Herbs as I am a supporter of Integrative and Alternative medicine. As you know, the programs are very  diverse, making it difficult for a layperson to make an informed decision. So far, I am considering the East-West School with Dr. M .Tierra,  Foundations of Herbalism with Chris Hobbs, the American Institute of Herbalism with Paul Bergner, and the Clayton School.  I would prefer to take a  certificate program with an accredited school or University,  however the on line programs take more time,  and are more expensive.  The end result is still an unrecognized profession, so, is it worth doing? Thanks very much for any advice you can provide.

ANSWER: I appreciate the complexity of your question. Since you are not planning on practice, you might not need to have license from an accredited institution to do right by your friends and family. You might consider the course that David Winston teaches online, with additional residential coursework over time. New Jersey is closer to you than Santa Cruz! 

The other options you cite are also worthy directions to pursue. The AHG recognizes many paths to professional practice, the common denominator being clinical training and experience. Though there is no licensure for herbalists at this time, any course of study that provides you with reliable training for your purpose is indeed worth the expense and time invested.  I may not have the answer you seek but I sense that you have the answer within. Ask yourself what you see yourself doing in two years, and five years, and let that information clarify the program(s) that prepare you for your specific purpose.   

I understand your search has been exhaustive, so perhaps you have already investigated the teachers and centers on this site, Herbnet.com? There is nothing like learning herbs in person. A combination of local teachers and online resources might suit you best. Please let me know what winds up working for you.

QUESTION: I am a Registered Nurse in the state of WV. I am looking at Herbology courses. My intent is to move away from bedside nursing to pursue a more holistic career, I am taking a massage therapy coarse now. How can I integrate my herbal knowledge with massage for my clients and does my RN degree put me a legal risk for recommending herbal regimens. 

ANSWER: I am glad that you are blending new skills in holistic medicine with the rigorous training of the nursing profession. You ask several good questions.  First, look into the directory of programs listed with the American Herbalists Guild, americanherbalistsguild.com. The Tai Sophia Institute, while not geographically close in Laurel, Maryland, is worth your consideration for a MA. Learning clinical herbal medicine, no matter how holistic, takes a minimum of two to four years. You might as well keep earning a living while adding to your skill base. 

Secondly, start now with simple herb recommendations for your massage clients and other patients. Until you feel confident recommending herbs clinically, there is reasonable legal and ethical safety in recommending common sense natural remedies: Studies support echinacea for colds. Chicken soup with garlic helps reduce viral infections. Chamomile helps digestive upset and has a mild calming effect. Suggesting these is not placing you at the center of controversy.  

Your question about legal risk is pertinent. Local cultural acceptance or suspicion of holistic medicine is different in Vermont, say, compared to West Virginia. While you learn, remain in the realm of educating clients about their choices rather than seeming to prescribe these same remedies to treat diagnosed illness. Remain attentive to the principles of holistic medicine, and the guideline, "first, do no harm." Your training will also highlight situations in which caution is justified, whether you give a massage and/or herbs.   Best wishes on your road to providing comprehensive care,

I am sitting here with a client of mine who has dementia.  He woke up this morning bound and determined to find out the definition of herbalisticology.  Many of us have
tried to explain to him that this word does not have a real meaning, but probably could mean the study of herbalism or the study of an herbalist.
    Could you please write back with the closest explanation you can come up with.  And hopefully this will help him relax.  This is NOT a joke. My client is a retired Brig General and his cognitive abilities are slowly fading.  PLEASE HELP!

ANSWER:  I am sorry to hear about your friend. I have not found out anything that says"herbisticology".
If you want some suggestions for herbs for him to take for the dementia, that I can help with!

QUESTION:  I took my sister to an herbalist and she began to do reflexology on her big toe and my sister went through the wall and didn't want her to do this anymore. Then she did something with her thumb and middle finger to determine what was right or wrong with her body organs and also to determine what herbs to give her for all the problems with her body. She said she needs her stomach brought down. During our visit, several times the woman got calls to pull their stomachs down. The friend of mine who gave me her number had her stomach pulled down by this woman and states she feels soooo good now and does no longer have gerd. I believe she did it with just a manipulation technique. My sister of course thinks she is wacko. I would like to know what exactly a good herbalist does and should they have certification or something.
How do you know one is a good one. Thank you,

ANSWER: You pose an interesting question.  How do you know who is a good herbalist? I believe it is important to go t someone who has a good reputation, from as many people as possible. One who may be any or all of these:
- member of the American Herbalists Guild
-school of learning is a reputable one
- years of experience, how many
- published and recognized articles, trade shows lectures
- company honesty and integrity, reputation, says it all!!
- google on the internet, see what you come up with
As to the adjustment she did, I am unfamiliar with this, if it didn't hurt her, and it is making her better, I would like to learn what it is she did! This sounds great, however, you must do what you feel good about, and if you feel uneasy, then don't do it, if you feel good, and the person checks out, then, go ahead, it is up to you.
I would also suggest a serious change in the diet of the person with gerd, it is an indication of poor food combining, and perhaps poor food quality. There are many things a person can do, herbally, chiropractically, and other ways, to help. One of them being foot reflexology.

QUESTION: Just a quick question, with your back ground what would you recommend for someone who is a beginner and would like to find a credible school to learn the ropes to become a certified Herbalist?  Your help is appreciated! 

ANSWER: It's difficult if not impossible to become "certified" in the US. You may have the title, but you can't really practice. You can advise and recommend. Still Dominion University in Canada has a very good reputation and has a certification as well as a Master's program. That's one of the schools I'm currently enrolled in. (Along with two others! I'm a glutton for punishment!) But you better be prepared to spend the rest of your life doing this. It is a calling more than a vocation and you will be learning as long as you live!

QUESTION:  I would like some advice and direction from you.  I have used herbs for approx 10 years now.  I have always believed in the old home remedies.  I am 45 years old, and have three daughters, ages ranging from 16-24. I would like to become certified in herb, iridology, and other holistic ways of healing.  Can you tell me where to start?  I would appreciate you help!  Thanks in advance. 

ANSWER: Well, the first thing I would do is start a small herb garden either in pots or in the yard somewhere. You will learn a lot just from using the herbs. If you already have such a thing, read everything you can get your hands on. I have an extensive library and have still only scratched the surface!  Next, I would go online and see if there are any colleges or schools that offer courses in herbs. Also, HerbNET has a great listing of educational resources on their website. There are correspondence courses as well if you are not close to a school. It's a wonderfully gratifying field. Plan to be in it for a lifetime!

I'm studying to become a Master/Consulting Herbalist.  I'm a native of Montana and am looking forward to sharing my knowledge of herbalism with the public.  Do you have any tips or suggestions on opening a consulting practice?

ANSWER: If you are taking a reputable course in Herbalism, they should offer a section on Herbal Consulting. If not, I would suggest you find a course that does so you are well-rounded when you move into this field.  Remember that you are NOT a medical practitioner and therefore cannot prescribe or diagnose. You have clients not patients and making medical claims about any herbal remedy can not only get you sued in this litigious society of ours, but could cause investigation by the FDA. Not to scare you, but we need to be so careful and ethics should be very high on your list of things to hold dear.  Good Luck in your studies and Valere!

QUESTION:  I am taking an online class for a masters in herbalists.  But I also have a job opportunity to do it focusing on stress relief now.  Do I have to have any kind of license or certificate if I'm going distressing techniques on persons at spas and using my own formulas?  Can I start now while I'm working on the degree?

ANSWER:  I don't know where you live, but it's always best to check with the local health authorities before doing anything related to health. Remember, you cannot have patients, you cannot diagnose, you cannot prescribe medication. Otherwise, you are in danger of being cited for practicing medicine without a license, and believe me, it's getting worse and worse. Do yourself a favor and make sure you check with the local government agency before doing anything that might be misconstrued.