Clinical Herbalist – Year 2 – 599 hours

The Clinical Herbalist training program prepares students for work as professional herbalists.  The curriculum of the Family Herbalist program serves as the first year of the Clinical Herbalist program. The curriculum of the second and third years broadens the focus to develop students’ critical thinking and clinical skills, while examining more complex health conditions, social determinants of health and health justice, business development, teaching, and practice in an integrative medical model. Ultimately, students staff our community clinics, working with their own clients under supervision throughout the third year.

Teachers include: Betzy Bancroft, Larken Bunce; adjunct faculty: Kristin Henningson, Guido Masé; guest teachers: Ilana Sobo

Applied Energetics/Traditional Constitutional Assessments
45 Hours
Continued exploration of the ideas introduced in Energetic Systems (year 1), including detailed review of the models presented by Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Sheldon (ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph). Practical instruction will include tongue, pulse, face and body assessment techniques from a variety of perspectives. Students will be expected to document a minimum number of individual practice assessments.
Ethics/Legal Considerations
12 Hours
An exploration of the ethical and moral considerations relevant to the healthcare field, and specifically to health educators such as herbalists. The class will discuss the legal status of herbalism as a therapeutic modality and emphasize concepts such as confidentiality, informed consent, scope, and professionalism. Includes discussion of current events in the field of herbalism.
Field Experience
24 Hours
Group journey to a location of particular botanical and herbal interest (3 days). This immersion will give everyone an opportunity to practice, alone and as a group, the skills of ecology, field botany, wild-harvesting, direct plant communication, and field medicine learned in their first 18 months of school.
Advanced Herbal Preparations
20 Hours
An exploration of more complex and unusual herbal preparations (percolations, emulsions and creams, hydrotherapy, elixirs, syrups, meads and cordials, boluses and suppositories, candies and cough drops, oxymels, medicinal baths and steams). Students will also craft their own products outside of class and present their preparations at the annual medicine show. We will overview the details of the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and learn basic implementation of these requirements through analysis and record-keeping in the context of our community clinic apothecary. This course includes 10 hours of lab work (per student), focusing on production, as well as microscopic, microbiological, and organoleptic analysis.
Herbal Therapeutics/Considerations for Special Populations I
120 Hours
An overview of practical strategies for addressing pathologies in the human system using herbal preparations, nutritional approaches, and lifestyle suggestions. The class will not only review generally accepted standards of herbal practice for specific conditions, but also explain how to tailor herbal formulas to individual constitutions, assess dosage and formulation requirements, and make recommendations for particular populations (such as children, elders, and pregnant women).
Herbal Safety
12 Hours
Covers the safety concerns relevant to using herbs with specific populations, such as pregnant and nursing women, children, and elders, as well as those with particular health conditions. Students will also be given the tools to critically examine the claims for herb-drug interactions commonly found in the media and to evaluate their relevance to clinical work. An understanding of the physiological basis for interactions and an ability to assess the likelihood of an interaction will equip the student for safe and responsible practice.
Intro to Clinic/Observation & Roundtable
60 Hours
Observing clinical herbalists at work in the free clinics and their private practices, including on-location clinics. The course will include ongoing case review and roundtable discussion, and students will participate in research and protocol formulation for ongoing cases.
Materia Medica II
64 Hours
Continued review of fifty additional botanical medicines, including: botany, harvesting, identification, preparation, dosage, indications and contraindications, phytopharmacology, energetics, historic and modern use, sustainable use, and relevant research. Students will research and prepare personal monographs.
Nutrition and Supplementation
35 Hours
A thorough and holistic exploration of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), vitamins and minerals as well as nutritional supplements which can be useful adjuncts to a well-rounded protocol. Students will learn how to evaluate clients’ diets and help individuals on special diets be well nourished within the guidelines of their regime. Nutritional approaches to disease prevention, allergies and wellness during pregnancy and menopause will also be covered.
Pathophysiology
120 Hours
Review of imbalances in the human physiology from an herbalist’s perspective. Lectures will explore disease states within the context of the health of the whole being. Focus will be on conditions relevant to herbal practice, and how to recognize when referral is necessary. Particular emphasis will be placed on balancing a modern biochemical understanding of pathology (microscopic – tissue level and macroscopic – organ level) with more traditional perspectives (energetics and traditional tissue states). Students will research and present information on conditions of their choice.
Pharmacology & Formulation
32 Hours
An understanding of the synergy and relationship between plant actions and constituents, including a deeper exploration of plant chemistry. Students will learn to craft a safe, effective, and well-balanced formula from the materia medica, drawing on formulation theories from various herbal traditions.
Practitioner Skills/Rapport
45 Hours
Training in the basic skills of a clinical practitioner. Practical instruction will include the intake form and process, record keeping, documentation of assessment and therapeutic protocol, and scheduling. Experience-based classes will teach how to develop rapport and therapeutic relationship with clients and work within their worldview, while maintaining professional boundaries and a heart-centered practice.
Research Skills
10 Hours
An overview of research, collection, and citation skills needed for ongoing study and development, continuing education credits, and journal publication. Students will explore Internet and print resources, prepare short articles on personal research reviews, and practice skills essential to the research component of other classes.

Year 2 Reading List (pdf)

“The second year of the VCIH program has given me a much better understanding of traditional energetic systems and their application, while at the same time broadening my understanding of the patho-physiological basis of disease.”
– Justin Garner, Clinical Herbalist student