Education Requirements for an Herbalist

An herbalist is a healer--for people and animals--utilizing plants and herbs with medicinal value. Practitioners collect and grow the botanicals used. The Federal Trade Commission and FDA regulate marketing, manufacturing and labeling of products herbalists use. Herbalists are not required to have licenses to practice, but there are a number of herbalist professions that do have degree requirements.

R.H.: Registered Herbalist

This title is given by the American Herbalist Guild (AHG), which is a peer-review nonprofit organization. Herbalists who have a good amount of clinical work and education on their resume apply to the AHG. It convenes a special board of reviewers who analyze applicants' proficiency and award R.H. accreditation if warranted.

M.C.P.P.: Member, College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy

This professional membership organization establishes standards of practice for Phytotherapy. Phytotherapists are herbalists who have completed university coursework combining traditional Western medicine practices with advanced botanical science. M.C.P.P.s follow a strict code of ethics covering professional conduct, medical and advertising ethics, and fitness to practice.

F.N.I.M.H.: Fellow of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is the oldest self-regulating organization of its kind; it is in the United Kingdom but has practitioners worldwide. Like the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy, it establishes guidelines for course requirements and practical experience required for fellowship; applicants are judged on a case-by-case basis and have extensive training in plant biology and medicinal use of botanicals.

M.N.I.M.H.: Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists

Members of the N.I.M.H. are herbal medicine practitioners and F.N.I.M.H.s who volunteer their time. They share their expertise in regional group seminars and conferences, and they work on various organizational committees and review boards.

L.Ac.: Licensed Acupuncturist

L.Ac.s are experts in biomedicine, Chinese herbology, foundations of Oriental medicine and acupuncture. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certification programs establish a standard of excellence, safety and competence for acupuncture and Oriental herbology practices.

O.M.D.: Doctor of Oriental Medicine

The National Oriental Medicine Accreditation Agency (NOMAA) is the accrediting organization for schools offering doctoral degrees in Oriental Medicine. O.M.D.s specialize in Chinese massage, acupuncture, dietary health and therapy, and Chinese herbal medicine.

D.Av.: Diplomate in Ayurvedic Health Sciences; American Ayurvedic Association

Graduates of this program practice holistic health and wellness. Ayurvedic medicine comes from India and uses herbology and the good health practices of healthy and moderate eating, plenty of sleep, and frequent sexual intercourse to promote lifelong well-being.