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While lots of people work with herbs everyday to help them stay healthy and to keep imbalances in check, many others turn to herbal therapies because they're dealing with long-term or life-threatening illness.
We know that herbs can be very effective, but it's import that we do all the research and consult the experts before we dive into any major herbal therapies. We need to be sure we're making informed choices about the herbs we want to put in (and on) our bodies.
There are so many things that need to be considered when working with herbs for serious and longterm health conditions.
For starters, it's important to consider the whole medical history. How could any of that relate to the herbs that you choose?
What about other underlying illnesses?
And have you checked out the most recent research about the herbs you're considering?
We also have to consider any possible drug interactions or other contraindications, of course.
And the person with the illness should, ideally, have regular check ins with someone who knows all the ins and outs of therapeutic herbalism.
But don't worry...
This lesson is here to offer some information and suggestions that could help you stay safe and feel supported on your journey to wellness.
Sometimes people think that working with herbs is just about finding the right herb and taking it. As if it's a treasure hunt and you just need the right info to get you to the cure-all that will open the doors to health.
We've all heard stories about the person who started taking one herb or another and saw miraculous changes seemingly overnight. And while these situations do happen every once in a while, it's certainly not the norm. And searching for these quick fixes is definitely not the path of the holistic herbalist.
As holistic herbalists, we know that wellness is a complex web that incorporates much more than just finding the "magic pill."
And that's the roll of the clinical herbalist 🌱
There are lots of different kinds of herbalists.
Different herbalists have different skill sets and different levels of training. When we are taking therapeutic herbal advice for a specific illness or imbalance, we want to be sure we know who we're working with.
Some herbalists are grounded in science, some are grounded in folk tradition, while many more are a mix of science and tradition.
Here is a short list of some different kinds of herbalists:
Herb growers have farms or homesteads where they grow and process herbs for retail and wholesale markets.
Extract makers process herbs into tea blends, tinctures, vinegars, oils, salves, and more.
Wildcrafters gather herbs from natural, wild places.
Ethical wildcrafters gather herbs with a knowledge of and respect for the ecosystem and the communities where they wildcraft.
Herbal educators share their herbal knowledge.
Community herbalists use their herbal skills to support their communities. This could be a clinic or a community apothecary or a neighborhood friend who shares what they have.
Folk herbalists are grounded in the traditions of natural healing. These traditions can be ancient or cultural or family secrets handed down.
Home herbalists have herbs woven through their everyday lives. They have herbs growing and they use herbs in their cooking and throughout their homes, in addition to using herbs for health. Home herbalists create delicious herbal extracts and preparations that people love to take. (For free lessons on being a home herbalist, click here)
Certified herbalists have gone through some kind of herbal training program and have earned a certification from that specific herb school. Certifications can vary from basic herbal programs to intensive specializations. A certified herbalist is not necessarily a clinical herbalist.
Clinical herbalists have gone through specialized training programs which include anatomy and physiology, materia medica, herbal therapeutics, extraction, and much more. These programs also include time serving clients in a clinic.
Registered herbalists are clinical herbalists who have gone through a strict evaluation process by the American Herbalist Guild. This evaluation covers 800+ hours of study and 400+ hours of clinical experience, among many other requirements. You can find a list of AHG registered herbalists here.
It's very common for one herbalist to be many things on this list without being everything on this list :)
For example, I am a certified holistic herbalist and an active member of the American Herbalist Guild. I respect science and tradition. I am an ethical wildcrafter, herb grower, extract maker, and herbal educator. I am a home herbalist, a folk herbalist, and a community herbalist. (Click here, and I can help you bring herbs into your everyday life)
However, I don't prescribe remedies for people.
I'm not a clinical herbalist.
But I might be able to help you find one.
The American Herbalist Guild is an association for professional herbalists. It was started in 1989 by a thinktank of powerhouse herbalists and has grown to be a big part of the US herbal community and a hub for herbal education and resources.
The AHG mission statement says "The mission of the American Herbalists Guild supports herbal education and practice. We envision a world where everyone has access to herbal medicine and skilled, competent herbal practitioners are an integral part of every community."
AHG hosts webinars led by some of the best herbalists and health care professionals in the world. AHG also hosts an annual gathering called the Herb Symposium, and they publish the Journal of the American Herbalist Guild.
They keep a running list of herb schools, herb resources, and herb mentors, among many other things.
And they keep a list of certified clinical herbalists that are registered with The Guild, and you can find that list right here.
So if you're looking for a registered professional clinical herbalist to help you on your healing journey, I think this AHG list might be the resource you've been looking for to help you find a therapeutic herbalist that's right for you.
All the best on your journey 🌱💚🌱
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Are you ready to bring herbs into your everyday life?
Learn how to make delicious herbal extracts, stay safe, and build your confidence as a home herbalist all at the same time.
This herb lesson was created by Jenna Bestrice, certified holistic herbalist
Important note: The information contained here is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or imbalance. This lesson has not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing here attempts to replace the advice of a trained medical professional. Your healthcare choices are your own.