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My Herbal Education

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I became a Clinical Herbalist, and which classes I recommend for beginning, intermediate, and advanced herbal students. So, I thought the best way to address this is with a blog post! In this post I will share just about every single herbal class I have taken, so if you are interested in a specific herbal topic, scroll through and I bet you’ll find something that interests you!

In the beginning…

My very first herbal class was The Herbal Academy’s Introductory Course. I found it after doing tons of research and it fit so perfectly with my goals when I was just starting out. It was the perfect introduction to kitchen herbalism, herbs for body care and holistic living. It has a huge amount of information wrapped into the 6 units. I loved the flexibility. You can wait to start the course until the time is right, and once you do get started, you have 12 full months to finish. I began it the day I purchased it and inhaled the information in about a month. It is reasonably priced for the amount of information you get, and I love the flexible payment plan options! If you are just starting out, I highly recommend this class

After completing the intro course, I was hungry for more, so I immediately jumped into the Intermediate Course from The Herbal Academy. This one dives into the body systems and phytochemistry, teaches the basics of building a materia medica, and provides *so many* amazing recipes and video tutorials. I started making my own medicine with the guidance of this course. It also expands on kitchen herbalism and talks about herbs for kids. If you already know the basics and want to learn more about how herbs work to balance the body, and learn more about making your own herbal preparations, I highly recommend this course. They, again, have super great flexible payment plans. Once you start, you get two years to complete the course.

Once I was done with the Intermediate Course, I decided to take some shorter courses to expand on some of the topics that interested me. Here is a list of those courses:

My first short course was the Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course and my oh my did I enjoy it. I learned SO much about making herbal beer and have since made several types, all with great success! I also leaned how to make fermented foods and kefir. It also taught about making kombucha and mead which I have yet to do, but hope to sometime soon! This class opened up my eyes to all of the incredible ways to use herbs. To this day, it has been my very favorite class.

The Materia Medica course was up next. It was short and sweet, and inspired me to start my own binder full of plant monographs which has since grown to 2 huge binders! This is helpful for beginning and advanced students, so if you want to make your own materia medica, check it out!

Next, I took the Herbal Self Care for Stress Management, which provided so much information about self care and ways to manage stress with herbs, lifestyle, and diet. This has helped me craft self care practices for myself and for my clients.

I threw in the Making Herbal Preparations 101 mini course just because. There are always new techniques to learn about the best way to make salves, balms, and oils, and I enjoyed this quick course.

I took the Botany and Wildcrafting Course, because I had only ever used dried herbs purchased from faraway lands, and I wanted to get to know herbs right in my own backyard, and learn the best practices for wildcrafting. I also purchased the optional workbook offered with this course and LOVE it! Since taking this course, I have started my own herb garden and I've taken some trips to the mountains to (respectfully) wildcraft!

I took the Botanical Skincare Course and absolutely loveeedddd the amazing amount of recipes and ideas it inspired. This is the perfect class for anyone wanting to make their own herb inspired body care and beauty related items! I purchased the optional recipe book and reference it very frequently.

At some point during all of these courses, I also joined The Herbarium which I recommend for beginners and advanced herbal students alike. The resources provided are more than worth the $45 annual fee. You get access to short courses on topics like PCOS, herbs for animals, and ADHD. They have an extensive monograph library, and sooo many herbal articles. When I am doing any type of research, I more often than not start with The Herbarium.

Once through these, I knew I needed to expand my knowledge base, so I joined the American Herbalist’s Guild, which I *highly* recommend for any serious herbalist. It is well worth the yearly rate, and if you’re a student, you get a discount! They have tons of free webinars, and I watched more than I can count or share with you here. They also offer some paid live courses that are more in depth, and I took the following:

The Edge’s of Consciousness which talked about epigenetics, mental health, neurodegenerative diseases, and potential herbal protocols. It was an extremely interesting deep dive into neurotransmitters and hormones, and how all of these things are connected. it is one I look forward to re-watching (which I can do, because when you purchase, you get lifetime access!).

Managing Methylation in Clinical Practice which was a fascinating intro into genetics and gene mutations, and the health implications of poor methylation. This class has helped me immensely in my clinical practice because its a huge area of interest to me.

Herbs for Animals – this is another topic I would love to learn more about. It was an intro class that was very insightful and I recommend for beginners that want to use herbs with pets. (please get in touch if you know of any other classes on this topic!).

By this time, I knew that I wanted to work with clients at some point, and I knew I would need to add a lot of skills to make that happen. I started with a short course called Demystifying Herb-Drug Interactions offered by Sovereignty Herbs.

I then made the investment into The Advanced Course with the Herbal Academy. This is their most extensive offering. In this class you can expect to learn herbal therapeutics, formulation, phytochemistry, herbal history including information about Ayurveda and TCM, and some of the nitty gritty legal details of opening an herbal practice. It also includes really helpful case studies. This class took me a full year to complete (you get three years to finish once you start), and was extremely detailed. There was homework and quizzes, and a final project that is submitted and reviewed by HA staff. This class was well worth the investment and provided me with the knowledge I needed to move forward with a clinical practice. *BUT* it wasn’t enough for me to feel confident in beginning to work with clients. The course is amazing in the amount of information it provides, but it lacks hands on training. You can study all day long, but its very different when you start working with people.

I live in Nebraska, and there are limited options for getting that kind of real world experience. But, there is a very cool free herbal clinic that I volunteered at during my time in the Advanced class which gave me the chance to be in a working apothecary, and I was able to sit in on herbal consultations. If you are in a state that doesn’t have a proper herb school, I encourage you to do some research to see if there might be a free clinic near you. I wasn’t aware of mine until I did a lot of internet searching. Check the Herbalists without Borders website to see if there is a local chapter near you.

With all these tools in my toolbelt, I decided to put myself out there and begin making custom teas. I think this is a really lovely way to dip your toes into working with clients. I would do a full intake with clients and then provide them with a custom tea based on their health goals, and I would also provide an extensive sheet with lifestyle and dietary ideas. I felt fully capable of helping with lifestyle recommendations because my own journey had led my down the path of spending hundreds of hours researching holistic health and natural healing.

I added in Kami McBrides Herbal Oil class to expand on my body care preparation skills, and I simply love Kami. She only offers this class seasonly, so be sure to sign up for my newsletter to hear when she opens up enrollment or offers other free classes because I always send out an email to let my followers know. Also, Kami's amazing book, The Herbal Kitchen, is a must have for anyone looking to expand their Kitchen Herbalism knowledge.

From here, I took the Astro-Herbalism course from Evolutionary Herbalism. I absolutely love Sajah and all that he and his wife are offering. His book (Evolutionary Herbalism) was/is one of my very favorite herb books. This class weaves medical astrology with herbalism. During all of my herbal studies, I was also voraciously studying medical astrology and I was so thrilled to find a course that merged the two ideas together. I loved this course and will continue to watch the videos year after year, and I can, because I have lifetime access! Enrollment is currently closed on this program, but I will be emailing my newsletter subscribers when it reopens, so be sure to get on my list.

I also signed up for Materia Medica Monthly from Evolutionary Herbalism and love Sajah’s deep dive into one herb at a time.

To gain the knowledge and understanding of how to create custom tincture formulations, and work on a large scale with clients, I signed up for the Clinical Mentorship Program offered by Wild Current Herbalism. This class was exactly what I was looking for in a program. It is trauma informed, harm reduction focused, anti-racist, and client centered. I wanted to get outside of my box and learn how to make herbal care more inclusive and accessible, and it has exceeded my expectations. There are two portions to this class. One focuses specifically on clinical skills and includes observation and sitting in on client appointments, bringing in clients to roundtable discussion, and one-on-one mentorship. The second portion is focused on building formulation and plant skills and learning to put the pieces of the puzzle together. This class is offered 100% virtually over live zoom sessions, and is *extremely* affordable compared to many other similar programs. And, if you’re in the United States, you’re in for a treat because the class price is in Canadian dollars (which means US peeps pay less!). I was so trilled to find something virtually and I really can’t recommend this class enough. It is such a positive and caring space with so much wisdom and knowledge to be gained! Please note that there are pre-requisites to this program, you can't go straight in without proper past education.

Concurrently with the Clinical Herbalism Mentorship, I took the Entrepreneur Class from The Herbal Academy. I actually purchased this class as I was starting my business in 2019, but didn't take it until late 2020 (I love that HA allows you to choose when you start classes, the clock doesn't start until you actually begin the course!). By the time I took the course, I had already done all of the research and leg work to set up business legally. I had already learned many of the tips and tricks laid out in the course and set myself up as an LLC, so it wasn't as valuable to me as it would have been had I taken it before starting my business. Because I have taken pretty much every other course offered by HA, I also felt like there was some repeating information - especially from the Advanced Course and Wild Foraging course. So, you might want to keep that in mind if you are considering this class. I do think there is a lot of great info, and if you are just starting an herbal business, this might be the right class for you!

So now we come to the second question I get asked most often, which is "can I become a Clinical Herbalist without going to a formal school?" The true answer is yes, but my answer is: maybe. This is really going to depend entirely on *you*. You have to be a self starter that is dedicated, committed, and willing to take all kinds of classes from all kinds of places. And, even with all that, I think you still need to be in a live class with students and a teacher in order to get actual experience and feedback on your assessments and formulations. But, this doesn’t have to equate to a formal school, my journey proves that. I chose my own path and took all of the classes that interested me, and included a clinical mentorship class specific to learning clinical skills. Nowadays, the opportunities are there to take classes online, so where you live doesn’t have to dictate whether or not you can get this education if you want it.

It's important to know that Herbalism isn't regulated in the United States, which means anyone can call themselves an herbalist, clinical herbalist, master herbalist, certified herbalist, etc. This is a good and bad thing. It means you can take any path you want to reach adequate education, but it also means that people who are working with herbalists need to be sure that who they are working with is properly educated. Future herbalists, if you want to work with people in a clinical setting, the burden is on you to be sure you have the knowledge to work with people and to find your way. That is why I love sharing this information, and why I love hearing from budding herbalists if and when they have questions. So, if that is you, please get in touch!

Now, finally, we reach *the end*, but not really, because I am always in new classes and continuing my education (I have several classes on my wish list!). I will continue to update this blog post when I take new classes! If you have any questions about these classes, or about herbal education in general, OR if you have any of your favorite herbal classes to recommend, please get in touch!

I will soon be offering a one-on-one mentorship program to help new and budding herbalists who would like to start or grow an herbal business, or start a clinical practice and would like support around that. If this is something you are interested in, please fill out my contact form so that I can send further information once this becomes available.

*This post includes affiliate links. I only recommend products/classes that I have personal experience with and that I stand behind. Thank you for your support!*

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