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How do I choose the right herbal study course for me?

For those of you who are undecided as to which course of study to choose in herbal medicine, we offer these insights for your evaluation process:

  • First of all, review the credentials of the course author(s). If you want to practice herbology, do they have sufficient clinical experience and/or licensed to practice in any professional fields? Or if you want to manufacture products, do the author(s) have that experience and background in those areas and so on?
  • How old is the school? How long has it been operation? How many students does the school have?
  • Talk with student graduates of that school (ask the school for contact information). Are those students practicing herbalism in any of its many fields of application?
  • What credentials are offered by the school upon completion of its program of study? Have they any value? Many schools create attractive titles, such as Master Herbalist and so on, but these titles are meaningless and carry no weight legally or otherwise in the herbal field. Other schools offer degrees, such as a masters or doctorate, but they are not from an accredited institution.
  • Consider the guiding philosophy of the school, does it match your own philosophy and needs?

East West graduate, Rosalee de la Forêt of Methow Valley Herbs

Will a student graduating from the Professional Herbalist Course be able to conduct a professional practice as an herbal consultant?

The curriculum vitae of the East West Professional Herbalist Course has received positive recognition from some of the country's most distinguished herbalists, many of whom are directors of established schools and holistic institutions. The school has enrolled thousands of students from 36 countries, on every continent, and we have on file letters of appreciation and praise form many of our students who are presently incorporating the practice of herbology as a professional career, some of whom already are medical doctors, chiropractors, massage practitioners, hypnotherapists and acupuncturists to name a few, although most students are lay practitioners. Many of the graduates of the Professional Herbalist Course have obtained professional membership status in the American Herbalists Guild.

Can I receive continuing education credit if I am a professional?

The East West School is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing and the California Board of Acupuncture to offer continuing education credit for the Professional Herbalist Course.

Are there any additional materials I must purchase, or extra costs to meet, when I take any of the courses?

No other materials are required in addition to what is included with each of the courses. However, it is recommended that students read herb books and related subjects as appropriate, and we offer a selection of useful books which may be purchased if desired. Some of the lessons in the Community and Professional Courses have herbal projects to complete. Students choose the herbs for the hands-on projects and thus the herbs used are at the discretion of the individual. Cost will depend upon how elaborate or simple you choose to approach the projects, though usually this is a minimal amount.

A week-long seminar is offered annually to which the student may travel and receive first hand instruction. Attendance is an additional cost and dedicated students are encouraged to attend the seminars while those completing the East West Certified Herbalist Degree Program must attend all three East West Seminar tracks. Graduate continuing education classes are offered then as well. We also recommend that students make an effort to attend any of the various herbal symposiums that take place around the country throughout the year. Those in the East West Certified Herbalist Degree Program must complete additional studies as outlined by that program, each at the student's own costs.  East West Certified Herbalist Degree Program

What is the average length of time required to complete the courses?

The courses are completed at your own pace in your own home. However, as a guideline, most students take around 6 months to complete the Family Herbalist Course, 2 years to complete the Professional Herbalist Course and 3 or more years for the East West Certified Herbalist Program. Students have up to 5 years to complete the 36 Lesson Professional Course. Students enrolled in the Professional Course who have not completed all 36 Lessons within 5 years, but would still like to be an actively enrolled student, are charged a fee of $150 for an additional 2 years, beyond the first 5 years to complete the course.

Will I be able to receive personal responses to my questions and evaluation of my progress?

Those taking the Professional Herbalist Course and in the East West Certified Herbalist Program receive personal responses and evaluations to their lesson tests, essays and projects. The Family Herbalist Course includes testing material with a self-correcting key. However, all students in any course may log on to our website to receive answers to their questions and study material through dialogue with other students and the East West faculty in the private student classroom.

What is unique about the East West Herb Courses?

The East West Herb School is the second oldest correspondence herb school in the U.S. In operation since 1980, we have thousands of students and graduates from around the world and have graduated the largest number of leaders and professionals in the herbal industry. We offer four certificate courses for all levels of interest and training, plus two western science courses.

The East West Herb Courses train home and community herbalists, herbal professionals and clinical practitioners. We are the only course to teach Planetary Herbalism, the most thorough blend of the three major herbal systems of the world: Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine (TAM). Learning this system enables you to use herbs effectively no matter where you live. We then present a materia medica of over 500 plants along with advanced assessment skills.

In addition, the East West School of Herbology provides annual on-site training with three levels of advancing expertise and continuing education classes for graduates. Students can choose to specialize in Western, Chinese and/or Ayurvedic herbalism.

What exactly will a graduate of the East West Herb School gain?

Graduates of the East West Herb Courses gain the ability to use western herbs (or others from around the world) according to traditional and time-honored diagnostic systems. Those who graduate from the Professional Herbalist Course will be able to evaluate illness according to such assessment methods as interrogation, observation, tongue, pulse and other differential systems based on the integration of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (TCM & TAM) diagnostics. Herbs are then recommended according to the individual signs and symptoms unique to each patient. Through this system the student learns how and why certain types of herbal treatments may be appropriate for one person but not for another with the same ailment.

Why study Chinese herbs along with Western herbs?

Studying Chinese herbs along with Western herbs has many advantages. First of all, many of the Chinese herbs are the same herbs you'd use in Western herbalism such as mint, hawthorn, elecampane, dandelion, garlic, ginger, licorice, loquat, motherwort, mugwort, myrrh, raspberry, blackberry, rhubarb and safflower just as a few examples.

In other cases, many herbs are common plants that grow in the West but aren't used much, if at all, by western practitioners, such as sedge root (Cyperus rotundus), teasel (Dipsacus asperi) and hookvine (Uncaria rhynchophylla). Further, learning the uses of herbs from other herbal traditions teaches new ways to use herbs that aren't known by western herbalists, such as yellow chrysanthemum flowers treating red eyes and colds with higher fevers and yellow mucus, mimosa flowers relieving certain types of depression and burdock seeds clearing red skin outbreaks. All of this and much more is taught by the East West School of Herbology herb courses.

I want to learn to use local western herbs and I hear your course is a Chinese Herbal Course. Is this true?

Our courses are not Chinese herbal course but are, in fact, much more. The East West Herb Courses teach mostly western herbs along with other herbs from around the world, such as Chinese, Ayurvedic and others. However, the courses do teach traditional principles of Western and Eastern herbal medicine along with Eastern energetics for disease assessment and herbal treatment.

We teach herbs based on a foundation of eastern medicine because it provides an effective and efficient assessment system for understanding and applying herbs. A drawback to the strictly Western herbal training is that it does not provide a fundamental diagnostic or assessment methodology appropriate to the use of herbs. Thus, at the lowest level, Western herbalists tend to practice '˜allopathic' herbal medicine based on the treatment of named diseases, while at its best, western herbalists prescribe herbs based on treating systems such as the endocrine system, the respiratory system, the digestive system and so on as applied to the imbalance of each patient.

Let's look at an example of the difference between the allopathic and energetic use of herbs for the treatment of the flu. If someone has chills, slight fever, white nasal mucus and body aches Western herbalists would tend to recommend mint, lemon balm, yarrow, elder or boneset. All of these, however, have a cooling energy and would only make the chills and mucus worse, thus, deepening the flu instead of clearing it. In this type of flu, herbs with a warming energy are needed instead. Thus, it would be appropriate to choose herbs such as garlic, ginger and hyssop, all of which have a warming energy.

Another example between the Western and Eastern knowledge and use of herbs is the idea of tonification, which means using herbs to build or strengthen the function of an organ, system or property in the body. Western herbalism doesn't have a true concept of tonification and in fact, what Western herbalists call 'tonification' is actually eliminating or clearing something in the body in order to restore balance. This is quite different that building and strengthening.

In the case of blood tonification, Western herbalists use yellow dock and dandelion as blood tonics. However, these herbs are actually bitter and cold in energy which clear dampness and heat from the blood. Thus, the yellow dock and dandelion will thin the blood rather than build it, and in time could even cause dizziness, blurry vision and tiredness. In contrast, blood is warm and moist in nature and so true blood tonics moisten and nourish blood. Thus, if blackstrap molasses is added to the dandelion and yellow dock, however, their drying and cooling properties will be ameliorated and their iron content will build blood. Alternatively, blood tonifying herbs may be given such as lycii berries (Lycium barbarum, or  wolfberry) and dang gui (Angelica senensis).

What is your refund policy?

Due to the informational nature of our courses, once access to the online classroom has been granted, and the materials have been shipped, there are no refunds. 

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