Study Herbs: Increase Your Knowledge About Herbal Medicine

| January/February 1997

If you want to increase your knowledge of herbal medicine, you have an abundance of home study courses to choose from. ­Selecting a reputable school or instructor and a course that suits your needs in this diverse and unregulated academic field requires some preliminary study on your part, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The guidelines below can help you make informed choices, and the course descriptions beginning on page 60 will give you an idea of the wide range of alternatives. Note that these courses are for individual learning, not for professional certification.

• Determine your interests and what you hope to gain from the course. Some courses give a general overview of many herbal disciplines; others focus on specific topics such as aromatherapy, native remedies, making herbal preparations, or nutrition. You may find that several reasonably priced short courses fit your interests better than one longer, more comprehensive, more expensive course.

• Ask independent sources about the reputation of the business or school and the quality of its courses. Ask the chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau in the city where the school is located whether any complaints have been filed against it, and check with professional herb associations (see the list at the end of this ­article). Check with any herb professionals you may know. Finally, ask the school for the names of students whom you may call to discuss their experience with the course.

• Write or call for catalogs and course descriptions from any programs that interest you. Read them carefully and compare courses. How long has the school been in business, and how many students has it had? Who is the instructor or author of the course, and what are his/her qualifications? How many lessons are there? What is covered in each lesson? Are sample lessons available? How long will it take to complete? How much does the course cost, and what kind of payment arrangements are offered?

• Talk to a school representative or the instructor. Reading about the course won’t answer all your questions, and getting a feel for the people who conduct it can be an important factor in determining whether it’s right for you. You might ask the person to explain more fully the school’s approach to herbalism and its teaching methods. Ask about the school’s policy on refunds if you are dissatisfied with the course—and make sure you get it in writing.

Herbalism By Mail

Here is a brief look at some of the herbal home study courses offered in the United States and Canada. Prices are subject to change.

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