Center for Herbal Studies
When and why was the Center founded?
The first herb studies program was in 1981 and it has grown steadily for over 30 years. I started teaching this class because there was a profound ignorance in the U.S. about herbs and the use of herbs for healing. In spite of this, there were many people who wanted to know more about this topic and few places to study. So what started as a small class has continually grown and matured, and we now have hundreds of graduates throughout the US, Canada and the UK who are successful practitioners, educators and members of the natural products industry. The live on-line program is our most recent innovation and it was started in 2006 allowing people who are not within commuting distance to NJ to take the program. As far as I know it is the first live herbal studies program in North America.
What does the curriculum entail?
The curriculum includes Chinese, Ayurvedic, Native American and European materia medica (over 300 herbs), an introduction to Chinese, Native American and Eclectic Medical traditions, phytochemistry, field botany, nutrition, herbal pharmacy, the energetics of herbs and herbal therapeutics.
What kinds of backgrounds do the students have?
Students of past classes have included physicians (MDs, DOs, NDs), nurses and nurse practitioners, physical therapists, massage therapists, dentists, veterinarians and acupuncturists as well as other health care professionals. Each class also has students who have no medical background, but have a deep interest in clinical herbal studies. A significant number of natural products retailers have graduated from the program, and incorporated their herbal training into their retail operation.
What kind of commitment is required?
When a student accepts a seat in this program, they are making a two-year commitment in terms of time (weekly 5 hour class 43 weeks a year, supplemental reading, case histories, diagnostics practice and 2 class projects) as well as financially.
What do the students do with this education?
My students usually utilize this training in one of four ways. First—they are already practitioners and use it in the context of the practice as a physician, nurse practitioner, naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, chiropractor, veterinarian, nutritionist, etc. Secondly, they decide to become an herbalist themselves—some people become community herbalists helping their friends and family and community, while others become clinical herbalists with a full time practice. Thirdly, some of my students become or are educators. We have numerous students who have set up schools, teach in public and private schools, and do educational seminars. Lastly, some of my students use what they learned within the herbal/nutritional supplement industry. Some work in health food stores, some for manufactures (some of the largest within the United States), some are researchers and information specialists for these companies.
What do they know when the program is completed?
When our students finish the 2-year program they have a strong foundation that will allow them to go on and become successful in whatever way they choose to use this information. Our goal is to give our students the skills needed to be able to treat people rather than diseases. To have the necessary knowledge and depth of understanding that allows them to understand the complexity of human health and disease and how herbs, diet, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, etc. can help not only to prevent disease, but also help us to regain our physical, emotional and spiritual health.