Written by Meghan Rhodes MCPP MAPA
Curious to hear the experience of one of our intensive herbal medicine course students in her own words? Jennifer joined the journey for year one of our intensive herbal medicine course - Awaken Herbal Wisdom - in 2023 after starting a clinical herbal medicine course. Although she'd always felt drawn to a classic academic approach with lectures, readings, papers and tests, she was noticing the joy fall away from her learning and the overwhelm set in. Herbalism was getting stuck in her head. Read on to learn how making a change in her journey to a more practical herbal medicine course refreshed her enthusiasm and focus.
What inspired you to want to take a herbal medicine course?
Alternative medicines have been finding their way into my life more and more over the years, and I had a weird notion that 'wouldn't it be cool' if someone mentioned an issue and I could say, 'I have just the tea/remedy for that', but have no idea when this first occurred to me.
When my son finished college he needed some additional privately funded courses in order to gain employment and on a car journey back from dropping him off at a training centre my husband suggested that after years of homeschooling, why didn't I retrain/do a course, it was time for me to do something for myself. By the time I'd reached work, I had begun an internet search for a herbal medicine course.
Why did you choose to enrol on the Awaken Herbal Wisdom herbal medicine course?
I enrolled on an online foundation course, but missed the practical side of things (I found myself concentrating on the written aspect and watched the videos but didn't attempt to make any remedies myself).
I attended Meghan's seasonal herbal medicine courses and enjoyed all aspects - the wander through the garden to meet the plants, tea tasting, making different types of remedies and being with like-minded people, asking questions and discussing ideas.
Meghan's teaching methods inspired me to switch to the course that she graduated from, as it follows the same pattern, but I was left with a gap of eight months between finishing one and starting the other and I missed her workshops! Enrolling on Meghan's Awaken Herbal Wisdom herbal medicine course gave me the opportunity to continue my journey and further deepen my understanding.
What did you most enjoy about your journey on the herbal medicine course?
It took some of the information I already knew and took it off the academic page and into the real world, deepening my understanding of the plants.
On my clinical herbal medicine course, I had struggled to understand how to pick which herbs to choose for a remedy when there are several available. I hadn't appreciated how important the taste and qualities of a plant are. Is it cooling or warming? Drying or moistening? A true understanding of the properties of a plant means being able to match the right herbs to the right ailment.
What most surprised you about your journey whilst taking this herbal medicine course?
This herbal medicine course also touched on the fundamentals of Ayurveda, which I had never studied before. Understanding how a person's constitution would influence how a condition affects them and in turn then which herbs would be most appropriate was an eye opener - that giving e.g. a 'warming' herb to an already 'warm' person could in fact make someone worse makes it so much easier to choose the correct herbs to use.
How has this herbal medicine course impacted your life?
This herbal medicine course has given me the confidence to continue with my studies. I feel better prepared to start my clinical herbalist course than I did when I first started this journey.
I am more conscious of the products I use on my skin and inspired to make my own creams, oils, medicine etc.
I always ate healthily but now I am more conscious of what I drink, making my own herbal teas (and matching the plants to how I feel that day), rather than using commercially made teas.
I have begun foraging and thoroughly enjoy using the plants for meals or for remedies.
This is a path that once you are on you do not want to go back.
What's the one word you would use to describe how you feel having completed one year of Awaken Herbal Wisdom?
If you could share one piece of advice to someone considering joining Awaken Herbal Wisdom, what would you tell them?
Would you like to take charge of your own health and have fun whilst learning?
What's the next step for you on your herbal journey?
I am on my first year (of two) of my training with The Plant Medicine School's herbal medicine course, with the option of then continuing with the three-year professional course. Meghan's Awaken Herbal Wisdom herbal medicine course has put the fun back into the learning experience, made me more confident to practise the practical side and inspired me to continue this journey.
It is life changing.
Meghan’s reflections on Jennifer's journey
Jennifer and I first met when she attended my four seasonal day workshops in herbal medicine. She had already started an academically-focused clinical herbalist training, but was missing the practical, hands-on components, which are at the centre of how I teach.
At these workshops, we have plenty of opportunities for questions, and Jennifer was curious about my own professional training - particularly how I was able to cram it all in. It was clear to both of us her learning was getting concentrated in her head and the looming promise of more hours of traditional learning tasks was becoming overwhelming. Jennifer was getting a lot of facts into her brain, but not enough of a feel for the herbs, the human body and how they work together.
So she chose to change the path she was taking in her journey towards becoming a qualified clinical herbalist and joined my intensive herbal medicine course. Not only did this mean she wouldn't have a gap in her guided learning, but also that she could cultivate a solid foundation of practical skills and deep knowledge that would put her on solid footing before she resumed her professional training.
It's been a delight watching Jennifer grasp herbalism with both hands (and her heart). What she's gained in one year of journeying with our 2023 intensive herbal medicine course cohort has set her up to truly absorb the depth and breadth of knowledge she will continue to develop.
Although we'll miss her as our Awaken Herbal Wisdom cohort carries on to a year two, we are all thrilled to receive updates on the brilliant professional herbalist she's becoming!
If you’re feeling inspired by Jennifer's experience on our intensive herbal medicine course, you’re very welcome to take the next step on your journey learning herbal medicine with me. The course - Awaken Herbal Wisdom - spans all four seasons and gets herbalism both deep into your bones and your daily life. Registration for our herbal medicine course opens each autumn to the waiting list first, so click here to make sure your name is on it. You’ll receive updates on the current year’s cohort as they go on their own journeys and then first access when enrolment opens. For more details about the structure, content and energy of our intensive herbalist course, you can learn more here.
Whatever your next step learning herbalism is, I hope you enjoy the journey!