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Herbalist Certificate Program Info

Learn about the requirements for a certificate program in herbology, sometimes called herbal therapy. Find out about course topics, classes and hands-on training, as well as obtaining national certification from a professional organization.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs for aspiring herbalists provide training on the use of herbs for healing and maintaining good health. Students explore the properties of various herbs along with their medicinal applications through both classes and labs. There are program options for non-professionals as well as for alternative and traditional healthcare practitioners who want to broaden their scope of treatment. Programs can be found at the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate levels. Licensing regulations for herbalists vary by state.


Undergraduate Herbalist Certificate

In undergraduate herbal studies, students learn how herbs affect the body and how combinations of herbal treatments are used in different alternative healing systems, such as Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and Native American medicine. Students also practice handling and preparing herbs. There are usually no specific admissions prerequisites for entering a program, but applicants are advised to have some prior knowledge of herbs.

Course Topics

An herbalist certificate program introduces students to historical uses of herbs and the relationship of herbs to traditional medicine practices. A program may cover topics that include:

  • Phytotherapy
  • Herbal classification
  • Herb dosage
  • Herb preparation
  • Plant chemistry
  • Chinese herbs
  • Body systems
  • Pediatric use of herbs
  • Geriatric use of herbs

Graduate Herbalist Certificate

Post-baccalaureate certificate programs may be called medical herbalism or Chinese herbology. Some programs are designed for individuals already working as acupuncture professionals, allowing them to legally use herbs in their practice without having to complete a full oriental medicine program. Other programs are open to traditional healthcare practitioners who wish to expand their repertoire of treatment options.

Program topics cover commonly used herbal medicines, including possible interactions with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Students also learn about herbal evaluation and clinical trial procedures. Hands-on herbal identification, harvesting and preparation may occur within campus herb gardens and labs.

Education Prerequisites

To enter a program, schools usually require students to have at least a bachelor's degree and be a professionally certified or licensed healthcare worker. Some schools accept experience in lieu of a bachelor's degree on a case-by-case basis.

Course Topics

Introductory courses cover herbal properties in relation to health and illness. Curriculums may also include clinical practice in creating herbal preparations and safely administering herbs as treatment. Other topics covered in a course may include:

  • Herbal formulas
  • Commercial herbal medicines
  • Herbal usage safety practices
  • Herbal medicine history
  • Herbal product evaluation

Continuing Education Information

Not all states regulate the use of herbology, but in some states, acupuncturists practicing herbology must be appropriately licensed. Students who complete a herbology certificate program may qualify for certification through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). The NCCAOM offers the Diplomate of Chinese Herbology designation, which may meet licensing requirements for some states (www.nccaom.org).

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