Herbalists are experts in plant medicine and use phytotherapy (or herbal medicine) to improve clients’ health or help alleviate illnesses.
Herbalists are complementary therapists, combining traditional herbal lore with modern medical understanding. They hold initial consultations with patients, involving questionnaires and physical exams, to ascertain their needs and then prescribe herbal remedies or offer advice and support.
Herbalists usually run their own practices, so they’ll have managerial, marketing and administrative duties as well.
Salary & benefits
Salaries will vary as most herbalists are self-employed. Really, salaries will depend on the number of clients and the reputation of the practitioner. Herbalists might charge £40 to £100 for appointments and can typically earn somewhere between £15,000 and £22,000 a year.
Most herbalists starting out will probably have to hold down another job, alongside their herbalist practice, to make ends meet.
As most herbalists are self-employed, working hours will vary depending on the number of appointments. Weekend and evening work might be required to accommodate clients.
At present, herbalists are unregulated. However, with new EU regulation this will soon change and herbalists will be able to achieve a healthcare professional status.
In anticipation of the changes, it is advisable that all those wishing to become herbalists should take a National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) or European Herbal & Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA) accredited BSc degree course.
These programmes in herbal medicine include 500 hours minimum of supervised clinical training and study of areas such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, botany, and nutritional and herbal therapeutics.
On graduating from accredited courses, students become qualified herbalists and they might become members of the NIMH.
Herbalists should have a detailed understanding of herbs and their preparation, and a good basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology. As they’ll be treating patients on a one-to-one basis, herbalists will need to have top notch communication and people skills.
Training & progression
Qualified members of NIMH are required to complete the Professional Development Programme and then continue with on-going CPD. Herbalists might look to join other alternative therapy organisations as well.
Training never really stops for herbalists as they are required to keep abreast of new research developments, advances in the field and new legislation.