Medical herbalists use the healing power of plants to provide alternative treatment to patients. They treat a range of health conditions such as allergies, skin infections and physical conditions by using either a whole plant or a part of the plant. If you have an interest in health issues and would like to help people out of their health problems using herbal medicine, this could be the career for you.
As part of the treatment process, medical herbalists build working relationships with clients’ to help in the diagnosis process. They diagnose clients’ health problems by examining lifestyles and symptoms to establish the cause of ailments. Thereafter, they prescribe suitable herbs to boost the body’s healing process. Some of the plants used include Aloe Vera and Ginger.
As a medical herbalist, your work would also include;
- Researching on herbs and preparing them to be used for treatment
- Offering professional advice to clients on how to lead a healthy life
- Monitoring patients’ progress and referring them to hospitals when necessary
- Keeping clients’ records for future reference.
Most herbal practitioners are self-employed. They thus choose where to work from and fix their working hours. They may choose to meet their clients in their homes or other preferable locations.
Depending on the type of health condition they are treating, they may wear protective clothing such as overalls and hand gloves to avoid being infected.
Salaries for medical herbalists vary with the number of clients and the length of treatment sessions. According to the National Careers service, they charge between £40 and £100 per hour on average. They also enhance their income by selling herbal medicine. In total, medical herbalists can make around £15,000 to £20,000 a year.
To work as a medical herbalist you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in herbal medicine. The program must be recognized by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists or any other organization which is part of the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association.
To take the degree course, you will need;
- At least five GCSEs (A-C)
- Two A levels. Biology has to be one of the subjects.
When studying fulltime, it will take you at least five years to complete the degree. During this time you will cover topics such as;
- Conventional medical treatments
You will also complete 500 hours of supervised clinical practice with patients.
Practitioners such as doctors and nurses who want to become medical herbalists can do so by earning a postgraduate diploma or MSc degree in herbal medicine.
Important Skills and Abilities
Apart from the required qualifications to become a medical herbalist, it is important to have the following skills and abilities;
- A good understanding of the human anatomy
- Good knowledge of plants and herbal medicine
- Strong analytical skills
- Good listening and communication skills to understand your clients effectively
- The ability to develop working relationships with your patients
- Excellent record keeping skills and awareness of confidentiality
- Business skills are also important to prevent suffering losses in the job.
Training and Development
On completion of your bachelor’s degree, you can join professional bodies such as;
By being a member of any of these bodies, you will be exposed to mentoring and self-assessment opportunities. You should also keep your knowledge and skills up to date by attending professional conferences and taking short courses.
Although the Department of Health plans to start regulating medical herbalists by 2015, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council currently sets the standards of practice. Be sure to review these standards before starting to work.
Although most medical herbalists are self-employed, you can also find jobs in large herbal clinics.
For further reading on this profession, you can visit the following sites;
As you gain more experience, you can become a higher education teacher or secure a research job in independent research centers.
Your success as a medical herbalist will depend on your reputation. Therefore, you should put hard work in networking and marketing your services to grow your list of clients. Being able to perform a number of therapies can also increase your chances of being successful.
Lastly, by pursuing this career you will be able to help clients to overcome various illnesses, as well as run your own healthcare business.