All You Need to Know About Studying Herbs as a Christian

Studying herbs as a Christian comes with unique challenges. Discover how to find the best ways to learn about herbalism while also honoring your faith.

While looking for photos to use in this article, I typed “herbs books” into a stock photo depository’s search bar.

And was promptly greeted by image after image related to witchcraft.

Whether you’ve come across it while talking to friends, reading online, or watching herbal videos, you know it can feel like herbalism and Christianity are at odds

Which makes things really complicated when you want to study herbalism more seriously.

One of the most common questions I get as a Jesus-loving herbalist is about the best place to study herbs as a Christian. You’ve probably wondered about that, too.

You want solid herbal teaching that gives you a thorough understanding of how to safely and effectively use herbs for better health, but you don’t want to wade through Mother Earth worship, ancestral spiritualism, or woo-woo superstition.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re a Christian who wants to study herbs, but I’ve covered it all here for you in this detailed article. Let’s unpack it step by step so you can figure out the best way for you to learn.

Affiliate links are included in this post. I can earn a commission if you make a purchase, but your cost remains the same.

Why Do You Want to Study Herbs?

Before deciding how or where to best learn about herbs as a Christian, ask yourself what your goals are for your herbal studies. 

Herbalism is an unregulated field in the United States, so there’s no correct way to become an herbalist. (However, if you’re not in the USA, you’ll want to research any regulations or requirements for herbalists in your country.)

Knowing what you want to do with your education can be the best place to start when deciding how to get your education. 

  • Personal Enrichment: You can study herbalism just for the sake of enjoyment and for personal use, but not to teach others. 
  • Family Preparedness: You can learn about herbs so that you can best take care of your family’s health needs at home using plants. 
  • To Teach Others: You might be interested in helping friends and neighbors learn to appreciate herbal medicine through classes and workshops, or perhaps you’d like to teach through online means like YouTube, social media, or your own website.
  • To Work With Clients: With enough education and experience, you can also help others with their health needs by using herbs.

Of course, there’s usually overlap between these goals and you might start with one goal and end up working towards another.

But thinking through your reasons for studying herbs can help narrow down your choices for how you decide to learn and prevent you from getting in over your head (or budget).

No matter how you choose to study herbs, you need a way to keep your notes and findings organized so you can actually remember what you learn.

To help you develop long-term knowledge that sticks, I’ve created The Herb Study Notebook: A Printable Guide to Deepen Your Herbal Knowledge One Herb at a Time.

With a thorough study guide and 32 printable notebook pages you can use again and again, you’ll be able to take your learning beyond basic herbal facts and become the confident, knowledgeable herbalist you’ve always wanted to be.

Different Ways to Study Herbs

Since herbalism is an unregulated field (again, this is in the US where I am), there are various legitimate paths to becoming an herbalist. One isn’t necessarily superior to another, though some will likely help you reach your own goals better than others.

Learning About Herbs Through Self-Study

Most people think they need to go through a special certification program to become an herbalist, but that’s actually not true. With enough dedication and discipline, you can get a solid herbal education on your own.

The trick with self-study is to find reputable resources. Blogs, social media accounts, podcasts, and YouTube can sometimes give great information, but can also lead you astray with inaccurate claims. It all depends on the source.

Your best bet is to read the best herbalism books first, then supplement them with things you might find online so you can better sort through the information you come across. 

If I could recommend just one herbal book to someone who really wants to learn, it would be Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann. It’s meatier than your typical herbs-for-beginners book but still written in a way that the average person can understand. 

If you read that book from cover to cover, you’ll have a solid herbal foundation that would rival most beginning and many intermediate herbal programs for a fraction of the cost.

Self-study can work for any herbalism goal you have, but it does require extra diligence on your part. Because of that, it may work best if you’re interested in herbalism for the sake of your own enrichment or taking care of your family for most people. 

Herbalism Short Courses, Workshops, and Memberships

If you know you need extra accountability or want to just dip your toe into herbal learning, you might enjoy trying some short herbalism programs. These aren’t as in-depth as herbal certifications from herb schools, but they provide more structure and often include additional learning tools like video or audio lessons.

Some herb schools, like The Herbal Academy, offer short courses and workshops. These can help you focus on a particular area of interest or help you decide if you want to take lengthier formal courses from the school.

The Herbal Academy also offers an herbal membership site called The Herbarium where you can read exclusive articles, join workshops, and do your own herbal research.

Individual herbalists might also offer short programs, webinars, and classes on their websites or at their homes or offices. Learning from a practicing herbalist can help you glean unique perspectives.

Another short course option to consider is a membership to HerbMentor. This online membership platform gives you access to many short herbalism courses and workshops from reputable herbalists, covering all sorts of subtopics like cold and flu care, natural remdies for stress, and herbal skincare.

Since they aren’t very comprehensive and usually quite focused, short courses and workshops typically work best for self-enrichment or to supplement other learning you’ve done. 

Certified Herbalist Programs

As I mentioned previously, there’s no universal certification for becoming an herbalist in the USA. Herb schools offer certifications, but those certifications are only as good as the schools that provide them. 

That doesn’t mean herbalism certifications are worthless, though. Formal herb programs can give you needed structure and help ensure you have a certain level of herb knowledge. They can also help you understand how you’re best qualified to use your herbal knowledge based on the length and complexity of the program. You’ll also find opportunities to connect with other herb students through in-person classes or online student forums.

  • Family Herbalist programs are often the entry-level certification programs offered by an herb school. These programs are designed to help you competently use herbs in your home and with your own family.
  • Community Herbalist programs are designed to take your herbal knowledge up a notch so you can help your friends and neighbors learn how to use herbs. Some herb schools may call this a Master Herbalist program, though truly becoming a master herbalist takes decades of education and experience.
  • Clinical Herbalist programs prepare you to work with clients who need help with their health. A good clinical herbalist program will help you learn how to create custom formulas and protocols for people instead of relying on a simplistic “this herb for that problem” approach. These programs can be cost-prohibitive, but they provide an excellent herbal education. Many of these require in-person training or exams. Thomas Easley’s Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine and David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies are two respected clinical herbalist programs.
  • Specialty herbal programs cover specific topics, like skincare, children’s health, or women’s health. If you have a unique interest in one of these areas, taking in-depth courses on the topic can greatly expand your expertise. I completed Herbal Medicine for Women by Dr. Avivia Romm and it offered a highly comprehensive look at using herbs to support women’s health through all stages of life.

You’ll also want to consider the timing of these programs. Some are completely self-paced and you can complete them as you wish. You have a lot of flexibility, but might struggle to consistently make progress since there’s no pressure to move forward. Other programs have firm deadlines. This gives you a lot of incentive to not neglect your studies, but it might be too stressful if you have a family, work full-time, or are otherwise limited with your time.

While certification programs aren’t necessary to be a competent, skilled herbalist, they can help people feel more comfortable learning from you or coming to you as a client.

Herbal Apprenticeships

A final way to learn about herbs is through an apprenticeship with a practicing herbalist. In an apprenticeship, you assist your herbal mentor with various tasks in their herbal practice. In exchange, you get hands-on learning experience from a practicing herbalist. 

Apprenticing would likely be too in-depth if you’re interested in herbalism for personal enrichment. But it can be a fantastic way to round out your studies if you want to teach your own classes or work with clients. There’s nothing like on-the-job training!

As a practicing Christian Herbalist, I’ve learned through formal certification programs, self-study, and short courses/workshops. 

Where Should a Christian Study Herbs?

If you know you want to enroll in a formal herb program to study herbs, you face a unique challenge as a Christian. You need to find someplace that provides a quality herbal education but also doesn’t too heavily promote ideas contrary to your faith.

That can be a bigger challenge than many people realize. But it’s not an impossible situation and you have a few options.

Find a Christian Herb School or Christian Herbalist Teacher

Some schools and herbal teachers are open about their faith in Jesus. Studying with a Christian herb school or with a Christian herbalist might make you more comfortable with your studies since you’ll have some level of confidence that you won’t have to weed out viewpoints and philosophies that contradict your faith.

The downside of this approach is that your options are quite limited. And some schools may market themselves as a Christian herb school, but not provide as in-depth of an herbal education as secular or neutral programs. 

If you know you want to study with a Christian herb school or herbalist, I currently know of some to consider:

  • Ditch the Drugstore is a great program from Heidi Villegas of Healing Harvest Homestead School of Botanical Arts and Sciences. Heidi’s program combines always-available lessons, live video calls, and an interactive, private student group (not on Facebook). Ditch the Drugstore provides a lot of value and is my top pick if you’re a beginner or early intermediate student.
  • Jon and Erin Stewart run an Herbal Aromatherapy™ program through their school Floranella. They offer some excellent articles on their blog, as well. I connected with Erin through Instagram and she’s truly a lovely person! I’m currently enrolled in the program and love the comprehensive learning experience they provide.
  • Shonda Parker’s program offers three different skill levels: family herbalist, community herbalist, and clinical herbalist. Since Shonda passed away after a battle with cancer, her program graduates now teach the program on her behalf.
  • The School of Christian Herbalism is run by herbalist and Pastor Vas Avramidis. There are currently three herbal programs available, but I don’t know anyone who has gone through any of them.
  • Herbalist Dawn Combs has now moved her herbal apprenticeship to an online format. She’s an ethnobotanist, seasoned herbalist, and Christian, so you won’t have to weed out references to Mother Nature, Gaia, or anything like that in her program.

Study With a Neutral Herb School or Herbalist

While most practicing herbalists aren’t Christians, not all of them mix their personal beliefs and faith (or lack thereof) with their herbal teaching. This means that those programs are accessible to a wide variety of people and beliefs, including Christians. 

That’s not to say you won’t run across a few things as you study that you mentally toss out, though. It’s just unlikely that those parts will make up a significant part of the program or substantially take away from the valuable herbal information presented. 

There are many options that fall in this category, but two you might consider are:

  • The Herbal Academy, mentioned previously, offers multiple herb study programs at various levels. They combine traditional knowledge with modern research, so you get a well-rounded approach to herbalism. Many Christians have enjoyed their studies with this school and I’ve enjoyed the short courses I’ve gone through.
  • Michael Moore (the herbalist, not the film producer) taught many of today’s practicing herbalists. Before he passed away, he chose to offer his Southwest School of Botanical Medicine program for free online. You can access the program by registering here.

Study with an Herb School or Herbalist Contrary to Christianity

Unfortunately, some herbalists and herb schools oppose Christianity so aggressively that they could be considered antagonists of the faith.

Some of these herbalists refer to themselves as witches or shamans and their approach to herbalism is likely to make most Christians very uncomfortable.

I don’t recommend studying with a school or person who is hostile to Christianity. There are so many other herb study options available that it’s simply not necessary. However, there’s no black-and-white answer as to how much anti-biblical teaching or influence is too much, so this is definitely a gray area.

When you find an herb school you’re interested in while searching online, you can check out many of their free resources to get a feel for what their paid program is like. They likely offer free blog articles, but also look for free downloads, podcasts, YouTube channels, and email newsletters.

After digesting their free material for a few months, you should have a feel for whether or not the program is a good match for you.

What’s the Best Way for a Christian to Learn About Herbs?

When it comes down to it, there isn’t one best way to learn about herbs or one best herbal school to attend when you’re a Christian. There’s just the way that will work best for you and help you meet your own herbal goals.

Consider again these questions:

  • Why do you want to study herbs?
  • What kind of study approach will work best for your personality, location, and lifestyle? 
  • What is your budget? 
  • How comfortable are you with weeding out ideas contrary to your faith?

As you answer these questions and consider all of the options presented here, you should have a clearer picture of what herbal studies could look like for you as a Christian. 

You don’t have to choose between learning about herbs and being a faithful Christian.

You absolutely can study herbalism and honor your faith.

It’ll take some thought and careful consideration, but there are many ways to get a good herbal education and leave all, or most, of the woo behind.

Your Turn:

What have you experienced while trying to learn about medicinal herbs as a Christian?

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    1. It’s refreshing to see more information available for Christian herbalists. Thank you! Reading through your article and the mention of Southwest School of Botanical Medicine online courses being free, I clicked on the link to further investigate. Please be aware that this information is incorrect and may need to be edited in your article. The school is charging $1800 for the only 2 courses featured on their website. I didn’t see any information about any courses being free.

      1. Hi Tracey. Glad this was helpful! I’m not affiliated with Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, but according to their website they are still offered for free:

        “The Constitutional and Therapeutics course and the Materia Medica course are available for free. Once registered, each course may be viewed immediately by direct streaming or downloaded to create your own DVD. Taken together, they represent the last class taught by Michael Moore at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, in the spring of 2006. Michael chose to offer them as individual modules, to afford folks as many choices as possible.”

        If you have trouble accessing the videos, maybe try reaching out to them to see if they can help. Best wishes!

    2. Hello, this is a very helpful article. But I wanted to comment about learning from witches, shamans, voodoo doctors and the like. That is a VERY DANGEROUS game to play. Psalm 1:1-3 informs us very clearly not to learn from such people. We also cannot walk with others lest we agree with them. Ask the Lord to guide you to someone He approves of – in an area of your life – and He will. Be blessed.

      1. I’m glad it was helpful. I agree we must be careful about choosing our herbal teachers.

    3. Hi Kristen, I was curious if you had any insight on Trinity School of Natural Health? I’ve taken some courses from Rosemary Gladstar but I’m looking for something the resonates more with my faith.

      1. Hi Amanda! I haven’t taken any of their programs, but am a little familiar with the school. I’m not convinced about some of their offerings, like iridology and ZYTO scans. The herbal program also looks a little weak to me to be called a master herbalist program. I’d highly recommend the Floranella program I linked to if you want to go deeper with herbs but don’t want to wade through the spiritual elements. I hope that helps!

    4. Hi Kristin, it was a blessing to come across this article and feel validated in my experience of pursuing education in herbal medicine as a Christian. I was quite involved in the new age world for decades with many things including astrology, tarot cards, energy work, yoga, eastern meditation, tantric sexuality, nature worship, etc, etc and was saved by Christ in June 2022. I’ve always loved plants and herbs and after being saved, I enrolled in a 3 year integrative herbalist apprenticeship program with a local master herbalist and started the study in September 2022. I was so excited to be able to go on local forest retreats to learn about the local plants with such an experienced herbalist, this was one of the biggest selling points for me. I can not deny though that from the beginning I wondered if this was the right fit for me since being saved as I saw in the curriculum some of the modules were not aligned with Christian beliefs, ex/ there is one compulsory module on the Chakra system and energy body. In retrospect, I might have been in denial and/or I had to go down this path to realize that it is not for me. Module 1 was excellent, an introduction to herbal medicine, terminology, history and cultural influences, with the focus on learning about lots of different herbs. I really enjoyed it and did not feel compromised at all in my Christian faith. Low and behold though, module 2 is entirely about Ayurveda and Eastern Medicine. After doing some research, reflecting on my lived experience in the new age, searching my heart and praying, I know without a doubt that I need to withdraw from this study. While I have great respect for the teacher, he is very much integrated with Eastern spirituality. And while many of the modules appear to not be spiritually based, there is too much “integration” of east and west and I can not reconcile this in my heart. Ultimately, I choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, He is my saviour, my King, my everything and, while a bit disappointed, I will not hesitate to remain faithful to Him.
      So, your article is very hopeful because, based on my research, there aren’t many Christian herbalists. I live in Canada where herbal medicine is also not regulated. I will continue to search, if the Lord wants me to pursue herbal medicine, the path will open no doubt.
      So thank you so much for the work you’ve done in putting together this well organized information to help Christians navigate this tricky space.
      I wanted to share a link to this education source that I came across in my research for you and others to be aware of.
      Christian Natural Health Network – Christian Herbalist Certification
      May God continue to bless you and your ministry!

      1. Hi Kathy. I’m so glad this was helpful to you. I can imagine that, with your background, you’re particularly in tune with what isn’t in line with God’s spirit. Thank you for sharing your experience and also the wonderful testimony of your salvation!

        I did come across the link you shared when I was researching this post. I don’t have any experience with or knowledge of the program, though, so I didn’t include it in my list. If you pursue any courses, I’d love to hear how it works out for you!

    5. Thank you so much for this post!! I felt God leading me towards herbalism and natural healing, but as a woman of faith noticed the same thing regarding witches, paganism, etc. This post is an answered prayer.

      1. I’m so glad to hear that, Keyshia! God bless your herbal studies. The world needs more Christians who can help others with healing plants.

    6. This post was confirmation that God is leading me to study herbalism from a Christian perspective. For years I have gone through becoming aware of the difference between witchcraft, paganism, and discerning what was from God. It was a complete challenge to find and then today Holy Spirit instructed me to Google Christian Herbalism and I found you. As an Autoimmune Warrior of multiple conditions, this can certainly be beneficial in many ways. I am believing God will continue to guide me to complete healing and to help others as the vessel He is using. I am filled with much gratitude, thank you for sharing. Hopefully we can connect in some way one day feel free to follow me on IG @journeywithjoanna (I look forward to it!).

    7. God bless you and THANK YOU for writing this article. I have been struggling with this exact issue for months now trying to decide how I should move forward. I will absolutely utilize these recommendations and hope others will too!

    8. Hello Kristen, Thank you for so much for your loving website. It was difficult knowing where to have information on herbalism for a Christian. I am so looking forward to studying herbalism for my own personal enrichment. It will help me with my journey to living a more healthier , more meaningful and Christ centered lifestyle. Christ has risen! Indeed He is has risen! Maria K.

      1. So glad this was a blessing to you, Maria! Enjoy your herbal studies. I never get tired of learning about the amazing plants God has given us.

    9. Hey, I have a question. I have been interested in studying plants for a while and their medicinal properties.But, the thing is I’m unsure if by doing this I’m practicing witchcraft. Some things that I can’t get out of my head is the word sorcery which translates to “,Pharmekia” in Greek in the bible.Which means pharmacy.And what is a pharmacy?A place people go to get drugs to heal or help illnesses .A pharmacist is a person who studies the properties and interactions of drugs.And I keep thinking how is this so different from a herbalist.Because back in the day we wouldn’t have pharmacist or pills.We would have herbs,potions, elixirs and herbalist.They seem the same.My question is what do you think about this?

    10. Praise the Lord for you! God provided herbs and essential oils to bless people and reveal His glory!!! Satan has tried to take these domains over!! God cannot be conquered by Satan, and He is calling Christians to study herbs and essential oils!
      I am SO GLAD that you have studied herbs and essential oils and that you encourage other Christians to study them!! How wonderful that you offer hope of studying these disciplines without having to be defiled by witchcraft and the occult!!!
      May the Lord, Who created these glorious herbs and essential oils, bless your work and ministry!!!

    11. Lovely article, thank you!
      Perhaps you and your readers might be interested in our Mewe group, “Christian Herbalists”. We have folks of all experience levels posting questions, exploring answers and praying for each other. You are certainly welcome!

      1. Hi Harmony! Thanks for your kind words here. I’d love for anyone interested to join your MeWe group and connect with like-minded friends. I’m in there, too. 😉

      2. Hi Harmony Hill. I saw your comment and I joined too 🙂 I’ve recently also decided to embark on the journey of becoming an herbalist/nutritionist and am myself a christian. I’m glad to have read yours and Kristens comments. 🙂

          1. Good day,
            I am from African(Nigeria)
            These studies of Herbal medicene does it cover affican herbs,
            And it is really an issue finding an african place where you study without them.bringing witchcraft..
            The Lord will help

            1. Hi Lois. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any school that focuses on African herbs. I’m sorry! I understand the situation may be difficult for you with the spiritual condition of many people who use herbs in Africa. I wish I could offer you more help or direction. I pray the Lord guides you because I believe Africa is full of healing plants, lovingly placed there by our God.

        1. MeWe is a social media platform, similar to Facebook, but without the yucky privacy violations and censorship. You can use it as an app or through your web browser.