Herbal Medicine Careers: Job Descriptions and Educational Info

Herbal medicine, sometimes referred to as botanical medicine, is a type of alternative medicine that aims to use various parts of a plant, including seeds, roots and bark, in order to create different medications, herbal supplements and natural dietary aids. Many health workers use herbal components in their treatment programs, including herbalists and naturopaths.

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Common Careers in Herbal Medicine

Herbalist: Job Description

Herbalists focus on the medicinal properties of herbs, flowers and plants. Some herbalists may specialize in the growth and cultivation of medicinal herbs from either their home garden or the wild, while others specialize in the pharmaceutical area of herbalism and offer herbs as parts of treatment programs for numerous diseases. Professionals can also work in both of these aspects of herbalism while running their own businesses. Medications derived from herbs can aid in the treatment and prevention of many diseases and problems, including weight loss and management, heart disease and insomnia. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't list herbalists separately, these workers were grouped within health practitioners and technical workers and made an average of $53,610 in May 2012.

Education Information

While there are no national or international regulatory bodies for herbalists, the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) in the United States offers certificate programs and educational opportunities in herbalism. Natural health schools may also offer degree programs related to herbalism, such as a Bachelor of Science in Herbal Sciences program. Herbalism education programs can be complex, with common coursework including clinical skills, nutrition, botany, pharmacology and therapeutic herbalism.

Naturopath: Job Description

Naturopathy is a type of medicine that has its foundations rooted in the healing power of nature. Naturopaths, or naturopathic physicians, find the cause of disease or ailment by examining all aspects of an individual person. A naturopath can either focus on supporting the unique healing abilities of the body or helping clients make positive lifestyle changes in order to improve their overall health and quality of life. Because of this, naturopaths use a wide variety of treatments, including herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine and nutritional counseling. Naturopaths are listed among health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other, by the BLS. These workers were listed as earning an average of $85,740 in May 2012.

Education Information

Due to the fact that naturopathic medicine is rather new in the United States, only 15 states total have licensing boards for practicing naturopaths. In these states, a potential naturopath must graduate from an accredited 4-year naturopathic medical school and pass a licensure examination. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education accredits naturopathic colleges and maintains a list of qualifying institutions on its website (www.cnme.org).

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