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When selecting an herbal training based on advertised accreditation certification, promise of a degree, credential of master herbalist's degree, etc., one should be aware that there is no legal recognition in the United States for these titles.

The most an herb school or course can legitimately provide is a certificate of completion in their course, irrespective of content. This is what the East West Course presently offers its USA graduates.

With his founding of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), Michael Tierra has been in the forefront of establishing educational standards for herbalists in the United States.

Students who are investigating different correspondence, or on site herb schools, should not be mislead by false claims of accreditation, degrees, etc that ultimately mean nothing in terms of granting legal standing in the USA for its graduates. Since the AHG is the only national organization representing professional clinical herbalists, working to establish national standards for herbal education, prospective students should ask their prospective schools what their association with the American Herbalists Guild may be. Since it is the only national organization for professional clinical herbalists, a student should inquire whether a school is affiliated and working with the AHG to establish criteria for professional education and training for herbalists.

Acceptance as a professional member in the AHG is the only national peer-reviewed process for the accreditation of professional herbalists in the USA.

Besides studying herbs, students need to study basic Western sciences, including Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology. This is provided through correspondence, documented attendance at a required number of on-site seminars and hands on clinical experience under the mentorship of a professional clinical herbalist. All schools and courses have the option to work with the AHG to establish a solid training curriculum for their students. All schools have the option to work with the AHG to establish educational curricula for their herb students. This seems important since this is the only way students could indeed achieve some degree of bona-fide professional standing as an herbalist in the USA, without graduating from an on-site naturopathic or acupuncture school that has an herbal curriculum.

The East West School of Herbology encourages all students to carefully document and record any and all herbal or related studies they undergo and keep records of any cases, professional or otherwise, they treat with herbs. This may be important for any future application and admission to the AHG or for possible future accrediting or licensing of herbalists in the USA.

For now, a student should include in their course of study, the following:

  • The study of materia medica
  • Principles of formulation
  • Anatomy, physiology and pathology
  • Practical clinical diagnostic skills
  • Practical clinical experience

It is not necessary that all of this be derived from the same school. For instance, Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology can be taken as college courses. At present, mostl schools are having a problem offering sufficient clinical experience. The reason is that unless one works under a licensed practitioner (remember herbalists are not licensed in the USA at present), the school, the practitioner and the student are all liable for the illegal practice of medicine according to present USA statutes.

The herbal industry is the fastest growing branch of the multi-billion dollar a year alternative health movement. Individuals who are skilled in the complexities of clinical herbal medicine are needed in all branches of this industry. It will soon be discovered that existing health providers are not qualified to administer herbal health care to their patients without at least a two-year commitment of in-depth study. Few are in a position to do this.

Many herbalists and students of herbal medicine are able to work with licensed practitioners in offering herbal alternatives and solutions to patients. Others, working within the limitations of refraining from diagnosing and treating disease, may work as private herbal consultants, using herbs to enhance general health and well being within the context of traditional and ancient healing modalities such as Traditional Chinese herbal medicine or East Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Nevertheless, an exciting place to work and serve is in the fast expanding natural foods industry.

The East West School of Herbology prides itself in being the most comprehensive herb course, offering an integrated study of Western, Chinese and East Indian Ayurvedic herbal medicine. Of necessity, this includes the study of traditional diagnostic skills based on observation, palpation, listening and interrogation, basic western sciences and clinical experience.

Do not be deceived by false claims and advertisements. Certainly the majority of schools have something to offer. The goal of the East West School of Herbology is to remain in the forefront of establishing a comprehensive training curriculum in the three major systems of herbal medicine; Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic, and to offer a practical training that is at once comprehensive, affordable and structured for all levels of interest and commitment.

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Of the many herbal training programs I have seen, I consider the East West Herb Course to be one of the best introductions to the world of clinical herbal medicine currently available.
Roy Upton, AHG, editor American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Vice-President American Herbalists Guild

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