This is a guest post by Brenda E
Formal study in herbal medicine, as Donna noted recently, is expensive. As she suggested, there is good reason to select a structured training course. It forces one to be disciplined in studying. Of course, the money factor also comes into play. If we pay for something we are more inclined to stick to it in order to get our money’s worth.
She mentioned the East West School of Planetary Herbology (planetherbs.com), which is an excellent training program that covers Western, Ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. It is run by master herbalist Michael Tierra, the author of Planetary Herbology.
Even with the current discount (reduced to $1599 for a 36-lesson professional course), the school’s master course is beyond the means of many of us. It is also a very large investment for a course of study that does not lead to professional licensing. The school also offers a 12-lesson family herbalist course at a little less than half price.
As I indicated, these online courses by correspondence schools do not lead to any kind of professional status other than a “degree” or certificate of completion from the school itself. One example of this is the now-defunct Clayton School of Natural Health, an unaccredited school in Birmingham, Alabama. You may recall seeing their advertisements in the back of magazines. The school closed suddenly in summer 2010, leaving students adrift.
Unless you are committed to working for a professional degree and licensing as a health care practitioner, and spending the tens of thousands of dollars required to do so, you might think there is no way to learn about herbal medicine in a structured way and at a reasonable cost.
I do, however, have two pieces of good news for you. One is that those preparing for tougher economic times are already very committed individuals. “Sticking to it” is already in their DNA. Secondly, there are less expensive options for training available if the goal is knowledge and expertise and not a professional credential.
If your goal is gaining personal knowledge about herbal healing (or to use in a SHTF situation), the following information is for you.
One of the best family herbalist courses comes from the School of Natural Healing founded by the late, legendary Dr. John R. Christopher.
The school offers two choices: (1) a home study course, with ALL required materials shipped to your home for a one-time fee of $495; and (2) an online course – with ALL materials found only online – regularly priced at $495 but now just $295.
There are also payment plans available for the school’s Master Herbalist Correspondence Courses and other courses (Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Homeopathy). See schoolofnaturalhealing.com for details and a number of links to herbal websites.
Rosemary Gladstar is a well-known Vermont herbalist. Every year she hosts the New England Women’s Herbal Conference at the Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center & Botanical Sanctuary. This year it will be held August 24-26.
Gladstar’s Science and Art of Herbalism home study course costs $375. It is on sale through February 15 for $295. See herbsandearthawareness.com for details.
There is a section on Gladstar’s website called The Formulary. It includes free information on herbs for longevity, digestion, and natural cosmetics and skin care, as well as step-by-step directions for making a tincture and a brief Materia Medica of herbs for family health.
Gladstar also founded the California School of Herbal Studies (cshs.com) at Forestville in Sonoma County. Classes are all held on location. The website does publish a useful herb of the month profile.
Herbalist Susun Weed, founder of the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York, also offers inexpensive online herbal courses. Weed’s 8-week Herbal First Aid: The Wise Woman Way course is only $175. Her full herbalism course costs $550 but can be paid for in eleven $50 installments. You will receive course installments as you pay.
Weed’s teachings can be followed in more than 110 YouTube videos under “Herbal Healing Wise Woman Way.” Her website at herbshealing.com is loaded with links leading to more information.
Blazing Star Herbal School (.typepad.com) in Western Massachusetts offers several low-cost do-it-yourself herbalism courses. “Spring Tonics and Wild Foods” includes 4 weeks of reading, assignments, and medicine making. The course starts March 21st and costs $150.
The school’s self-paced 20-module Family Health Course includes a Materia Medica of 20 herbs used for children and common childhood disorders; growing, harvesting, drying, and storing herbs; home remedies and first aid; nutritional preparations; topical preparations; and more. It can be paid for on a sliding scale of between $250 and $350.
If you want to learn about Ayurvedic medicine, Vasant Lad’s Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Ayurveda.com is the place to go. Under “Sections” click on The Online Resource. Here you will find a free page of information links that ranges from general information to food and nutrition, Ayurvedic cleansing procedures, and recipes from the Institute’s journal.
The Ayurvedic correspondence course, including audio portions on CD, costs only $225. You can view the 18-page pdf overview of the course for free, of course.
In case you might think that Ayurvedic herbs are not readily available, many of them are the same as Western and Chinese herbs and are available through Banyan Botanicals on Amazon.
Also do not rule out local health food stores and practitioners who offer classes and apprenticeships.
I did not include correspondence or online courses in Chinese medicine. To the best of my knowledge, there are no layman-level training courses available in Oriental medicine.
I speak to you as a long-time practitioner of that particular healing art. Practitioners are licensed in most states and are highly regulated – and for good reason. Oriental medicine is very complex and the use of Chinese herbs requires precise diagnostic knowledge.
The good news is, as I wrote above, many Western herbs are the same as Chinese herbs and Ayurvedic herbs. You already know several of them very well: clove, ginger, cinnamon, skullcap, dandelion, frankincense and myrrh , and so forth.
While this is by no means a complete resource list, these are resources I can personally recommend to you as reliable and safe.