If you want to train or study to become a professional medical herbalist, there are a few routes open to you. However, first you need to think about what you want to do after studying. Do you want to work with plants and make preparations? Do you want to treat yourself and your family? Do you want to treat patients in a clinical setting? It’s important to think it through as different courses are suitable for different goals. It can be frustrating doing a course, then finding it’s not suitable for practicing.
For example, Medical Herbalist can offer a wide range of support – rather like a G.P. – or may have specialised in an area they are particularly drawn too – more like a consultant. Alternatively, a Community Herbalist might work in a doctor’s surgery or local health centre supporting people with a wide range of day-to-day problems from navigating the menopause to managing insomnia and stress. I am a Research Herbalist with a Masters (MSc) degree in Herbal Medicine from UCLAN and I specialise in chronic infectious diseases, combining patients and research in my specific area (Lyme disease).
Currently, under the UK law, herbalists are not regulated by the Healthcare Professions Council at this date (August 2023) so technically any one can become a ‘Herbalist’. However, this would be irresponsible as you could do someone harm through a lack of knowledge. It is generally recognised that a Medical Herbalist will have completed a degree or diploma-equivalent course, undergone supervised clinical training, carries insurance and is often a member of a professional self-regulating organisation. The professional organisations each have their own minimum training-level entry requirement, a code of conduct, requirement for CPD, and provide support to their members. If you wish to join a particular association check their educational requirements before starting a course.
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) http://www.nimh.org.uk/
The Association of Master Herbalists (AMH) https://theamh.uk/
The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP) http://www.phytotherapists.org/
Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners (URHP) http://urhp.com/
International Register of Consultant Herbalists (IRCH) http://www.irch.org/
Irish Register of Herbalists (IRE) https://irh.ie/
Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists (IIMH) https://irishmedicalherbalists.com/
Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) http://www.atcm.co.uk/
Degree Level Courses
Betonica Medical Herbalist Training Programme (Blended learning: Online (30 hours per week) plus in-person classes in Devon. 4 years.)
Heartwood (Online course. 4 years or 6 years)
Lincoln College BSc (Hons) Clinical Herbalism (Full-time. In-person classes in Lincoln. 3 years.)
The School of Herbal Medicine Advanced Diploma in Herbal Medicine (Blended learning: Online plus in-person classes in Bridgwater, Somerset. 6 years)
CNM Herbal Medicine Diploma Course (Online plus in-person classes in Manchester or London. 3-5 years)
CNM Post-Graduate Herbal Medicine Diploma (Blended learning: Online plus in-person classes in Manchester or London. 2 years. After a qualifying course).
MIUH Master of Science in Clinical Herbal Medicine (USA). (Online course. 2 years.)
Plant Medicine School Clinical Herbal Practitioner (Blended learning: 2 years)
Plant Medicine School Community Herbalist – England (Blended learning (Exmoor) 2 years)
Plant Medicine School Community Herbalist – Scotland (Blended learning (Edinburgh) 2 years)
Plant Medicine School Community Herbalist – Cork (Blended learning (Cork) 2 years)
Plant Medicine School Community Herbalist -Wexford (Blended learning (Wexford) 2 years)
Short Foundation Courses
NB These courses help you decide whether longer study will suit you.
RBGE Diploma in Herbology (Attended (part-time) or Blended learning. In-person classes in Edinburgh. 2 years.)
RBGE Certificate in Herbology (Attended (part-time) In-person classes in Edinburgh. 4 months.)
NB The Herbology courses do not cover the clinical practice of herbalism rather herbal products, growing, making and pharmacology.
Please note there are many online courses in herbalism – often extremely cheap. However, these will not all enable you to be accredited with a member organisation above. For example: The Centre of Excellence’s ‘Master Herbalist Diploma Course’ and its ‘Advanced Master Herbalist Diploma Course’ are not sufficient for you to join a herbal member organisation. This is because, to treat people, it is not enough just having a knowledge of herbs, you will also need a medical training so that you understand human biology, biochemistry, physiology and pathology.
Sadly there are no longer degree courses being run (as of August 2023) at: University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), Westminster University, Middlesex University, Napiers University, University of East London, or The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine.