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medical herbalism degree

February 16 2012 at 10:23 PM
from IP address

Hi, I really want to study for a degree in medical herbalism but i can,t seem to find any close to where i live, has anyone heard of any courses in or around the wolverhampton areas?

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Sarah Head

Re: medical herbalism degree

February 17 2012, 12:17 AM 

Hi Steph

Have you already checked out the Herb Society Education section? and the National Institute of Herbal Medicine site? Those should give you the up to date situation regarding medical herbalism undergraduate courses.

The sad news is that many of the courses have recently closed their doors to new students. Your nearest one would probably have been Preston, which is closed. There are still several running in London and one in Lincoln and one in Scotland. (I may have missed a couple somewhere.)

You have a couple of long standing medical herbalists in the Wolverhampton area. Anne Chiotis is in Willenhall and she used to lecture on the Lincoln course.

If you want to start somewhere, there is always the New Vitality course run by Ann Walker and her husband. Students I talk to are really pleased with the course material and enjoy the course. It's only an introductory course, so you can't practice afterwards.

What do you want to do with your degree? Set up as a professional? Treat your family and friends? Grow your own medicines? It is very hard to set up a practice once you are qualified. I know a couple of newly qualified herbalists and although they are now practicing and making a small living it has taken them two years and lots of hard graft.

Have you thought about distance learning from overseas? Many of the US herbalists are now offering distance learning modules. Some are excellent and some less so, so you need to be careful who you trust with your money. Have you looked at HerbMentor and LearningHerbs.com.

Have you looked at the teaching snippets available on utube? Again it's mostly US based - we just don't seem to have got our act together over here when it comes to uploading podcasts of field walks and how to make stuff. (If UK herbalists are doing this and I've missed their utube uploads, then I apologise, but I've not seen any!)

Have you joined any email discussion lists and forums? Susun Weed's is active, Henriette Kress' email list is excellent. Sevensong Sevensong runs an email discussion list for herbal students. The Herbwifery Forum is quieter now than it used to be, but most of the herbalists have migrated to Facebook. There is a community of over 100/150 herbalists across the world who are friends with each other and the discussions can be very very interesting.

Have you bought any of the basic tutor books and starting learning from them? Julie Bruton-Seal's Hedgerow Medicine is excellent as is Zoe Hawes' Wild Drugs. Anne MacIntyre's Complete Herbal Tutor is excellent as is Henriette' Kress' Practical Medicine (All these books have been published in the last 3 years). If you're looking for older stalwarts then anything by David Hoffman or Penelopy Ody will stand you in good stead.

If are are looking to become a "qualified herbalist", I hope you are able to find a course which suits you. If you are eager to learn about herbs and their properties, don't wait for a taught course, get out there and learn.

Good luck


kevin brown

Medical herbalism degree

February 20 2012, 2:33 AM 

Hi Sarah,
I find it rather sad that now that medical herbalists are "legal",training facilities seem to be fast disappearing.Is it the present economic climate or do I smell a rat.


Sarah Head

Re: medical herbalism degree

February 21 2012, 12:27 AM 

Hi Kevin

(rant alert)

I think it's a combination of both. The number of newly qualified herbalists who actually make a living from their chosen degree is something less than 10%, if my memory serves me correctly. The rapid increase of medical herbalism degree courses over the last 10-15 years could have been seen by some viewers as universities trying to get "bums on seats" and therefore increase their incomes rather than them having a real feel for the need/market tolerance of qualified herbalists.

I do think the whole public squabble about "only qualified herbalists being able to dispense European approved medication/herbs" did medical herbalism no favours. People who were eager to learn suddenly got cold feet and the whole student loan and subsequent debt situation meant the numbers applying for the courses dried up. No applications meant no bums on seats, so universities closed courses. Economics is a harsh taskmaster.

We shall be reaping the harvest of this current situation for many years to come and maybe the general public will suffer from lack of choice in seeking consultations with qualified herbalists.

But there again, is the general public best served by herbalists who are trained in the current scientific climate? Herbalists who can recite chemical constituents of herbs until the cows come home but have never made a tincture in their life? Herbalists who know every plant by their latin nomenclature, but couldn't find an elder tree in winter if you paid them?

Now I know there are lots and lots of wonderful, experienced medical herbalists out there whose life is their craft. I have no wish to denigrate their achievements. All I'm saying is that maybe this is a time of opportunity. Ordinary people can't buy a lot of tinctures they used to, but maybe this will make them think about making their own or maybe using another medium of extraction or way of taking their herbs they hadn't considered before. Maybe it will encourage them to open their eyes and their ears and learn more about the herbs around them and have the confidence to use them in an ethically sound and sensible way.

Maybe I'm living in cloud cuckoo land, but all I can do is what I do in the hope it may help.

Best wishes



UEL course

February 27 2012, 3:35 PM 

Hi Steph,

Everything Sarah says is sadly true, but if you're dedicated enough the University of East London in Stratford still offers its part-time degree course, much of which you study from home. The reality is that you must be prepared to travel pretty frequently up to London, especially in the final year when you have to put in so many hours of clinical practice, and if you occasionally have to find your own overnight accomodation the costs really start to stack up. However, being part-time (full-time is also optional of course), you can spread the studies out over several years. The minimum commitment is 2 modules per year. Visit their site if you're interested - it will tell you all you need to know.

Also a lot of herbalists supplement their living by holding one or two-day courses so that the lay person can learn how to make up basic medication to use on themselves or their family, and some also do field walks to help with identifying the plants you will be using. These are useful whether or not you're undertaking formal study.

Best of luck.

Graham Saunders

herbal medicine degree

February 27 2012, 11:47 PM 

Hello Steph
UEL offer a good degree covering herbs, materia medica, anatomy, physiology, phytochemistry, biochemistry, clinical practice plus loads more. It's really interesting and will give you a great foundation in herbal medicine. Most people on the course are "mature" students and it is offered as distance learning, which means home study plus 2 one day seminars per module per term at Stratford. It also means that fees are about half normal full time. Many students are also in full time work, so are studying part time, which reduces the annual fee still further. It's worth checking out the web site for more details. And yes, there are many people on the course from further away than Wolverhampton.

Jeanne de Rosemond


February 29 2012, 10:21 AM 

Sarah, your comments about making tinctures was interesting. There are not a lot of Medical Herbalists in South Africa, and they tend to be in the bigger cities, far from where I live. The usual tinctures, eg Echinacea etc are available, mainly through on-line shopping, but as my interest has grown so has my stock of home made tinctures, it is very satisfying. This season I have made Centella Asiatica, Calendula, Marrubium Vulgare, Feverfew, Platago Lanceolata as well as StJohn's Wort tictures, and before my basil finishes intend to make a basil one as well. Ointments are also fun to make and I am stocked up with treatments for bruises,sunburn, insect bites, dry skin and arthritis, as well as a sleep balm with lavender and chamomile. Hope you all have a good summer and plentiful herb harvests, Regards, Jeanne

kevin brown

medical herbalism degree

April 3 2012, 5:31 AM 

Dear Sarah
Many thanks for the explanation.I didnot realise it was a "bums on seats" situation.

Your rant was most justified and indeed quite restrained.You may care to look at the website of IRCH and their update to their statement on Statutory Regulation.They make it clear that the Universities that offered courses in medical herbalism were indeed motivated by "bums on seats".

So herbalists are legal but what are the educational standards required for State Registration?Is there an actual registered of State Registered Herbalists?If the educational standard is the university training required by NIMH and CCP,are herbalists trained by IRCH and Master Herbalists Association still allowed to practice?Will students presently being trained by those institutions be allowed to practice?

With regard to the disappearance of tinctures and other OTC herbal medicines ranting is perfectly acceptable!It is no less than gross interference with personal freedom of choice to satisfy the agenda of the multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Jayne Milner

herbal training

April 6 2012, 10:20 PM 

Have discovered this site Brill for information and like-minded thinkers..... For those wishing to know - the University of Lincoln has had the course taken off them and given to the Lincoln College (no one knows why???) they have also lost their foremost lecturer, as he walked out in response. I have just this week, found out that University of East London has now closed its doors and it is supposed that, those on their final years tuition will be the only ones to qualify (unless my sources are incorrect) - so its either Westminster or Middlesex Universities.....as for me - I am doing an access course this forthcoming intake in North Wales (I am married with two children with renal failure) and I am trying to work out how the hell I can go to Middlesex, which will not kill my marriage or affect my kids ????

I agree with all of you - the majority of the bad press is due to Chinese medicine and not western traditional....I feel that this new legislation is a knee-jerk reaction which will only put patients off, especially with regards to the bad reporting and bias of the press. Unfortunately, mud sticks and all those people who may have taken up an alternative, would be put off by the some of the reports, which have frankly been quite inflammatory. Personally, I am appalled by the loss of such an important subject - little understood by the populace, rebuked by the orthodox and possibly outlawed in the future, by our own government. It may well be that this most important of resources, goes back to the Middle Ages. Underground and doled out by the back door in case a charge of witchcraft is brought!

Good hunting and dont leave it too long to get on a course.......I will try and get in before all the courses close ....... hopefully !

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