At present there are no national standards for herbal education in the U.S. While it is not yet a part of the core curriculum for health practitioners, those seeking training in herbal medicine can start with one of the many continuing education courses currently offered around the country, mostly by medical and other allied health schools. These courses can provide a basic overview of some of the most popular herbs and of the issues surrounding their use. The courses are oriented towards licensed health care professionals but are generally open to all. Currently there is no formal intermediate or advanced level training to follow these introductory courses, though several institutions are currently working to develop these courses. For now the practitioner needs to study independently through reading and ideally through apprenticeship with someone more experienced in this area.
There are, however, many certificate programs offered in herbalism. To assist in finding and evaluating these programs the American Herbalist Guild has compiled an education directory available by mailing ($12 members, $14 nonmembers) as well as herbal education guidelines available at their web site at (www.americanherbalistsguild.com/Educat.htm).
Official Licensing Bodies
There exists no agreement in the medical community (allopathic, osteopathic, nursing, midwifery or allied health practitioners) about certification in botanical medicine. Many doctors are taking continuing education courses which teach them how to use botanical medicine. Currently, the discussion of certification is under consideration. However there are other forms of certification not specific to these professional disciplinary areas that are available. At the present time there exist at least four types of certification, commonly found among practitioners of botanical medicine: medical herbalists who are members of the American Herbalist Guild, members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, diplomates of Chinese herbal medicine and naturopathic physicians.
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