I have studied herbs, plants, spices, trees, etc. ever since I learned how to read. When I started my path in Witchcraft in 1984, I knew right from the start that herbs and such would be a big part of whatever path I was going to end up on. My grandmother was the first person from which I learned about different plants their many uses. As well as those called “weeds”.
Some were just recipes, and others were ways to heal the body. I read anything, and everything, I could find about natural healing and ways to use herbs in spells. I also read about other things such as incenses, oils, vinegars, cooking, etc. About 2 years ago I decided that I wanted a degree in herbalism. Much to my surprise, I found out that there is no such thing in the United States.
There is no official certification or license for you to become an herbalist in the USA…. it means if you have a another license, such as LMT, or Naturopath, you may be able to qualify for Continuing Ed credits (CEU’s), and that the school has met certain standards by whatever accrediting agency it belongs to http://herbalistpath.blogspot.com/2008/02/there-is-no-official-certification-for.html)
So what now? Well, some of the best and well-known herbalist are self-taught. Most of the pioneers in the field learned from people and the plants without a certificate.
Juliette Levy, Rosemary Gladstar, and Susan Weed to name just a few. Their certificate programs are very expensive. And frankly, the certificates you can earn really do not hold any credit or merit in the US.
As far as doctors’ concerns, they either are totally behind the idea of natural healing, or totally against it. Either way, I always say if this is a path you wish to follow there are many cautions along the way. You have really got to study and keep lots of notes.
If you are doing this to take natural remedies for yourself, please talk with your doctor, an established herbalist or even your pharmacist first. There are many herbs that can cause adverse reactions when you are taking medications. Prescribed medications and even over the counter things such as aspirin and even antacids can cause you serious reactions with certain herbs, plants and even foods.
If you want to become the local herbalist who helps out other people with your knowledge, then I must caution you even more. Telling others what herbs to use and how to use them is very tricky, as well as very risky. You need to know that persons entire medical background. You also need to know any allergies they may have, any medications they are currently taking, occasionally and also in the future.
Even using some of the safest herbs can pose a dangerous undertaking. It is quite possible to create more harm than good. If you have someone take a tea with chamomile in it to a person who is allergic to ragweed, this can actually cause anaphylactic shock. Also, people who take blood thinners such as Warfarin or Coumadin would need close monitoring while taking this with chamomile.
So if this is something that you feel you are ready to try I say go for it! Just remember that this is not just a simple
“I can just get 1 book and have all the info I need”
kind of path. You are going to want to read everything you can find. This includes books that have herbal information like properties and uses.
Books on aromatherapy, magical herbal uses, essential oils, home remedies and the list goes on and on. There are tons of websites where you can find information, as well as blogs, and even certificate programs if you really want to go that route.
This is a path that I have walked for the last 31 years. I can honestly say I learn something new every single day.
If you are a person who loves to learn and wants to be in touch with nature, this is an amazing path that any form of paganism or any other religion can follow. Learning about the many uses in nature also adds to the knowledge that we need to spend more time protecting her (nature) and all that she has to offer us.
So, the next time you are out on a hike or just taking a walk through a park, take the time to look around and get to know what plats, trees and animals are around you. Take a notebook with you and a camera. Write down the different things you see and take pictures.
If you are not sure what a plant or tree is look it up. Research it and find out the many different uses for it. This is the best place to start your walk down this path.
Learn what you have locally in your home town. Even if you live in the city, there are always parks or sanctuaries nearby. Check them out. You will be so glad you did.