Studying herbalism as a Christian comes with unique challenges. Learn how to to find the best ways to study while also honoring your faith.
While looking for photos to use in this article, I typed “herbs books” into a stock photo’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 Christian herbalist is about the best place to study herbs as a believer. 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, ancestoral 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 learn about herbs, having the right study tools at hand can make the difference between facts you only remember for a short time and deep learning that sticks.
To help you develop that long-term knowledge, 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 get to know your herbs inside and out.
It’s coming soon. Be sure to join my email list to know when it’s ready!
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 quality herbal books first, then supplement 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.
You can find more recommended herbal books on my Amazon booklist here (look for the little comment bubbles to read my short reviews). Any of these resources will further your herbal studies, too.
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 and Workshops
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 of New England, 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.
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’m enrolled in Herbal Medicine for Women by Dr. Avivia Romm and it offers 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.
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 from a Christian herb school or with a Christian herbalist, I currently know of three good options to consider (but have not personally studied through any of them):
- Shonda Parker’s program offers three different skill levels: family herbalist, community herbalist, and clinical herbalist. She recently passed away after a battle with cancer and program graduates now teach her program on her behalf.
- Jon and Erin Stewart are Christians who 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!
- The School of Christian Herbalism is run by herbalist and Pastor Vas Avramidis. There are currently three herbal programs available. Pastor Vas has a genuine heart for solid herbalism and spreading the Gospel. He also has many years of experience studying and using hebs.
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 of New England, 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, there are some herbalists and herb schools who so strongly oppose Christianity 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.