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Ten Dos and Don'ts for Choosing a Herbalist Course for Beginners

Written by Meghan Rhodes MCPP MAPA

New to learning herbalism, but having a hard time choosing a herbalist course for beginners? As a qualified herbalist, I’ve been there - excited by all the possibilities and new knowledge and skills to acquire, but also a bit overwhelmed and confused by all the different options (and actually really just itching to get stuck in)! Having attended workshops, done a multi-year apprenticeship, completed a four year qualification course as a clinical herbal medicine practitioner and teaching herbalist courses, myself, here are my top ten recommendations for choosing a herbalist course for beginners.

Qualified herbalist Meghan Rhodes teaching a herbal medicine course in a herb garden

1. Do: Take it one step at a time

Herbal medicine packs thousands of years of history, knowledge and skills, as it is the original medicine spanning back through human history (not to mention the rest of nature). So although it’s all very exciting, do try to take it one step at a time. Find a herbalist course for beginners that meets you where you are on your journey now. If you try to cram too much in at once, you won’t get that incredible knowledge down into your bones - it’ll just swirl around in your head.

2. Don’t: Take too many courses at once

With so many options for herbalist courses for beginners - online, on-demand, in-person, short form, year-long, free or an investment, avoid the temptation to take too many courses at once. If your inbox and diary are full of different courses to do, you’ll run out of both time and brain space. The last thing you want to do with all your enthusiasm is get burnt out or feel like you’re falling behind. Choose one herbalist course for beginners to do and have that as your core to start. Once you’re firmly on your journey, you may want to supplement with an additional course to run alongside your main one, but keep it to two at a time, maximum!

3. Do: Find a herbalist course for beginners that gives you a community

It’s so much easier and more fun to learn when you are part of a community, whether you meet in person or online. You can share recipes, questions and resources, as well as get reassurance and support each other as you learn new concepts and skills.

4. Don’t: Choose a course that has no interaction with the instructor or other students

One thing you will be guaranteed to have when taking a herbalist course for beginners is lots of questions. If there’s no one there to answer them, you won’t be able to get the clarity you need. Remember, herbal medicine is medicine and it involves people’s health, so it is important to make sure you have your facts straight. And, as mentioned in tip #3, it’s just more fun to be able to discuss with your teacher and other students!

5. Do: Find a course that helps you focus - especially on learning the herbs

Yes, it is tempting to be looking at two different herbalist courses for beginners and think if one is going to introduce you to 10 herbs and the other will introduce you to 50 herbs that more is more, but that’s not necessarily the case. Look for a course that will help you focus your herbal learning and develop not only the foundational knowledge of the practice, but also depth of understanding of the plants. There will be plenty of time to get to know many medicinal herbs over the course of your journey learning herbalism. Focus first, then scale.

6. Don’t: Ignore the people part of the puzzle

Learning herbalism isn’t just about learning how to understand plant medicine, it’s also about learning how to understand ourselves, reconnect with the messages our bodies send us and match the two for effective support. If a herbalist course for beginners just focuses on learning plant facts and ‘using’ herbs instead of allopathic medicines, you’re not really learning herbalism. You’re just swapping medical pills for ‘green’ pills.

7. Do: Learn from a reputable teacher

Ensure your teacher is knowledgeable, either because they’ve qualified as a clinical herbalist themselves, or because they have completed more traditional, long-term methods of training, such as an apprenticeship. Check their credentials. If you’re unsure, ask them. A reputable teacher won’t hesitate to share theirs.

8. Don’t: Skip the basics

There are a few foundational concepts in herbal medicine you’ll want to make sure you’ve learned and understood properly before moving on to a more advanced or involved course - Latin names of plants, key herbal terminology, plant identification, remedy making and safety. If you’ve not got the basics down, you may end up overwhelmed, confused or both further down the line.

9. Do: Engage your senses

Herbal medicine is an ancient, earthy form of medicine. A good herbalist course for beginners should encourage you to use your senses - to smell, taste, feel and observe the plants. It’s a natural learning process that reflects the fact you’re learning about how to engage with another aspect of nature. Herbal medicine isn’t meant to be confined to black and white print on a screen or in a book. It’s meant to be alive!

10. Do: Choose a herbalist course for beginners that lights you up inside!

Now that you’ve considered so many dos and don’ts, take a breath. Read the herbal medicine course description again and listen to your body. How does it make you feel? If you feel all lit up inside, go with that gut feeling! It’ll take you on an incredible journey!

Is there a lot to consider when choosing a herbalist course for beginners? Absolutely. Does it need to be overwhelming? Certainly not. Don’t take too many courses at once, choose a course with no interaction, ignore the people part of the puzzle or skip the basics. Do take it one step at a time, choose a herbalist course for beginners that gives you a community and helps you focus, ensure you learn from a reputable teacher, engage your senses, and above all, choose a course that lights you up inside!

If you’re here in the UK, you’re very welcome to take the next step on your journey learning herbal medicine with me. I offer day-long herbalism workshops and pop-up herbalism workshops, as well as my intensive herbalism course - Awaken Herbal Wisdom - which spans all four seasons and gets herbalism both deep into your bones and your daily life. Although it is intense, it’s suitable for a wide range of herbalists, including beginners! So head to my events page to see what’s coming up or learn more about my herbal medicine course here.

Whatever herbalist course for beginners you choose, I hope you enjoy the journey!


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