A master's degree program in herbal medicine, also called herbology, medical herbalism, botanical medicine or phytotherapy, trains students to use plants and plant extracts to cure various body ailments. Students learn which plants and plant substances are medically useful and how to administer them. Administration techniques might include inhalation, ingestion or injection. Some programs offer specific training in identifying plants that could be used for the development new drugs.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree. They must also have a strong educational foundation in biology and chemistry, since most herbal remedies consist of phenols, secondary metabolites or alkaloids.
Although it is possible to pursue a master's degree solely in herbal medicine, it is more common for students to pursue broader studies in alternative medicine. In addition to herbology training, these programs also include studies in acupuncture, nutrition and massage.
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Master's Degree in Herbal Medicine
In addition to theoretical coursework related to plants and the human body, graduate programs in herbal medicine may sponsor trips for students to study plants in the field. Students can also expect to spend a lot of time in the lab conducting research on plant-related compounds.
- Applied chemistry
- Research methodologies
- Applied statistics
- Anatomy and physiology
- Botanical medicine
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projected job growth of 17%, which is much faster than average for all occupations, from 2014-2024 for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners.
Although the BLS did not specifically report salary or job outlook data for herbal practitioners, it did report these figures for complementary and alternative healthcare practitioners, including chiropractors and massage therapists. The BLS projected job growth of 17% for chiropractors from 2014-2024; these professionals earned a median annual salary of $64,440 as of May 2015. Massage therapists can expect job growth of 22%, which is much faster than the national average, from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $38,040.
Continuing Education Information
Some states mandate that practicing herbalists pass a licensure exam. Graduates may also pursue doctoral programs in Oriental or natural medicine.
Overall, students who are interested in the role of plants in alternative medicine can pursue a master's degree in herbal medicine. Depending on the program, students may also gain the skills they need for other careers related to health and wellness.