Areas of Study to Become a Master Herbalist

Though I’ve been studying since 1981, I didn’t start putting the study in practice until 1988. Herbal medicine is not a field that allows you to start working without some education. I’ve been a Master since 2004, and over the years, I’ve learned a lot.

Laws: This is an area of importance. There are laws that define what I can and can’t say or do. In all honesty, even if the laws weren’t in place, I still wouldn’t do them.

The FDA regulates herbs as food. Making medical claims without their authorization is strictly against the rules. Insofar as I know, the only one that can claim anything is the humble oat. Studies show that the grain can help lower LDL cholesterol.

I am also not allowed to diagnose or prescribe. That’s a good thing as well. While I have more knowledge of anatomy, physiology and symptoms than others, I don’t know as much as a doctor would.

Training: To become a Master Herbalist requires the training of at least one other Master Herbalist. This is more along the lines of the old apprentice, journeyman, master training than a college education. There are, however, higher levels of herbal training that can be done via colleges.

Drugs and Herbs: Many drugs are still made from herbs. Digitalis is a good example. The only way to make it is by using foxglove. While many drugs can be synthesized, some very important ones cannot.

The Doctor’s Role: The doctor plays an important role; one that can’t be dispensed with. Most herbalists I’ve spoken to are like me in preferring to work with the doctor instead of going it alone. I tell the people I work with to check with both their doctor and their pharmacist before starting any herbal remedies I suggest.

Quirky Old Remedies that Work: There are many, but I’ll stick with the good old spider web. The web can be rolled into something similar to a pill and swallowed if you have a headache. There is a substance similar to aspirin in the web. It can also be laid over a minor cut to help coagulate the blood.

I enjoy my work in this field. I like to talk to people about it and I truly enjoy writing about it. If you find yourself interested in this career, it can be very rewarding.

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