Herbalist: job description

Herbalists treat a variety of physical conditions, illnesses and allergies through the holistic use of plants in conjunction with medical knowledge.

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Most herbalists are self-employed and work from home or run their own practice.

What do herbalists do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Herbalists treat patients using plant-based remedies and other treatments. Responsibilities typically include:

  • undertaking patient consultations to diagnose illnesses and conditions, and to select appropriate remedies
  • gaining information from patients about previous physical/medical history and symptoms
  • making physical assessments
  • planning and explaining treatment requirements
  • liaising with and making referrals to specialists or other health care practitioners
  • providing advice about diet, exercise and lifestyle
  • keeping accurate and confidential patient records
  • keeping up to date with new research and developments in the profession
  • managing stock levels
  • marketing and promoting the business
  • growing and producing herbal remedies.

Typical employers of herbalists

Most herbalists are self-employed, working full or part-time from home or from their own practice. Many work as part of a team of alternative health practitioners for private practices such as specialist and complementary health care clinics and herbal dispensaries. If you are a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) you can list your services on the website.

Herbalists may move into teaching or research when they have gained experience.

Qualifications and training required

There is currently no statutory regulation of herbalists in the UK. However, you should complete a degree recognised as demonstrating your knowledge and expertise – so, approved either by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists or by one of the organisations represented by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners’ Association (EHTPA). This could be an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

Undergraduate herbal medicine courses take three years of full-time study to complete. When applying for postgraduate study, undergraduate qualifications in pharmacy, physiology, anatomy, biology, pharmacology, medicine and botany are of benefit.

Work experience gained in a clinic or dispensary is helpful, as is experience of shadowing local herbalists.

Key skills for herbalists

Herbalists need an in-depth understanding of anatomy and physiology, as well as detailed knowledge of herbs and their preparation. They also need:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Strong business skills and organisational ability
  • Resilience and confidence.

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