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Learning Herbs Online

Updated: Mar 27

how to study herbs online

Learning Herbs Online

Learning herbs online can be a valuable tool whether you're beginning your herbal studies or looking to add a little extra knowledge to an already robust herbal education. Either way, studying herbs online can be an accessible way to learn the art of herbalism. Learning about herbs online, however, does not come without it's challenges. Finding the most accurate, credible, and comprehensive pathways to herbal education online can take a little bit of navigating. To learn more about the things I love about learning online, as well as what to look out for when searching for sources, keep on reading below.

What To Look For In Quality Online Herbal Info

When you're first starting out determining which online sources of education are best can be a tricky space to navigate. As you know, the internet is rife with misinformation (and shallow information) and when looking for online herbal resources it's important to dodge both.

For me, online herbal learning is all about seeking out sources where you are getting direct transmission of herbal information not only from an herbalist, but from someone who has experience using herbs. You want the people teaching you to have real-life experience using herbs and seeing firsthand how they interact with people. Want my top tips for finding the best quality online herbal info? See my recommendations below, and remember - there plenty of resources out there, you just need to know the right places to look.

1. The Content is Authored By an Herbalist:

Many sites/brands/journalists will throw herbal info together as a compilation of internet research. Avoid this. You want herbal articles and sites where the info being presented is authored by an herbalist, or being hosted on an herbalist's site where you know they are the author of the content. Having worked in mainstream herbal content creation, let me just tell you, most of the stuff non-herbalists put together is lacking (to say the least).

2. The Site Is Focused On Herbalism:

You want the site/teacher where you are learning herbalism (or from) to be primarily focused on herbalism. Herbalism is a complex system, and while it can be used as a part of nutrition or many other modalities, the study of herbalism is it's own entity. I would steer away from sites that have "herbal modules" and "herbal sections" and focus on sites that specialize in herbalism. If you want to learn another modality, learn another modality first, then learn herbalism next. I see this happen most often in the nutrition space. Holistic nutrition is different than herbalism, though both modalities do support each other.

3. The Information Is Not AI Generated:

This will be a controversial one, but most herbalists I've talked to are not in favor of the AI movement veering into herbalism. There are SO MANY nuances in herbalism that are meant to be seen and transcribed by a human (aka those with a soul and not a computer). Herbalism is an art as much as it is a science. We can't replace humans when it comes to healing.

4. You Can Reach Someone And Ask Questions:

Learning is hard, understanding is hard, and when you're learning a new subject it's important that there is someone you can access to ask a question. Does your site have an accessible contact page or a direct way to reach the instructor and/or author?

5. Keep In Mind - Herbalist's All Have Different Opinions:

This one takes some getting used to in order to weed through the info, but it's important to remember that herbalist's (by and large) are an opinionated group of folks, and everyone is going to have their own ideas about herbs do and how they can be used. Over time, you learn to compile all of the information in your own brain, noticing the patterns and similarities, which then allows you to build your own opinion about the herb in question. This takes time (years), be patient.

6. Beware of Bold Health Claims:

This is another controversial one, but in my personal opinion I recommend avoiding herbal education that makes bold health claims, at least in the beginning of your studies. Herbalists are bound by a code of legal and moral ethics when it comes to sharing herbal knowledge, and you want to be learning from ones that stay within these lines, at least at first. Many brilliant herbalists have radical views, but when you're starting out you're impressionable, and I feel it's best to learn from teachers who honor this balance, giving you space to decide how you feel first. I think it's also important to point out that no alternative wellness providers (who are not licensed) are legally allowed to weigh in on whether you should OR should not take a medication. I recommend staying away from teachers and public figures that veer in either of these directions.

Learning In An Online Community

When it's done right, online herbal learning allows for the transfer of information in an accessible way, allowing folks to dip their toes into herbalism or add tidbits to their already robust knowledge. While most of my herbal knowledge comes from direct study (with my mentors), clinical experience, and trusted herbal authors, I too have partaken in in online studies and I always find that the best quality information always comes directly from an herbalist/practitioner. When an herbalist writes and speaks about herbs, they're giving you so much more than a laundry list of of uses and actions, they're filtering in their real life knowledge and tips, and that is invaluable.

Even better is when we get the chance to learn about herbs in community with others, where we can share experience, and ask questions, and have a sounding board in the learning process. The online classes that I've taken that have been most impactful are one that allow me access my teachers and my peers. Community is what hebalism is all about, and learning together is as much of a tradition as is the study of herbs itself.

Want To Learn More?

EBH Online Community

Feeling inspired by my own learning (both in-person and online) and by everything I mentioned above I have decided to create my own online herbal learning community. After of years of telling students to stick to books and people and avoid the internet, I figured it was time to create some of the change I wished to see in the online space. There are already many wonderful online herbal learning platforms, and I am excited to be joining them in this space.


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