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Herbal Certification and Certificate Program Information

Certificate programs in the use of Chinese plants and herbs to help treat illnesses generally last 2-3 years and are available through colleges of Oriental or Chinese medicine. It's common for graduates to seek certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Essential Information

Applicants to herbal certificate programs may be required to have a bachelor's degree and may also need to be licensed or certified healthcare providers. Programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) prepare graduates to sit for the voluntary national certification exam offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.nccaom.org). These programs include clinical phases. Students seeking alternative training methods can also look into weekend and distance programs.


Oriental/Herbal Medicine Certificates

Programs may be intended for those who are currently enrolled in or graduates of Master of Acupuncture degree programs, although applications from students who are enrolled in or graduates of Oriental medicine degree programs may be considered. Licensed and certified healthcare professionals in related disciplines, such as nurses or chiropractors, may also be eligible to apply. Some schools expect that applicants already hold a bachelor's degree.

Coursework covers fundamental theories, herbal formulas, case studies, patient management and advanced internal medicine within the context of Oriental medicine. After completing introductory courses and passing qualifying exams, the curriculum generally calls for students to begin making herbal preparations and taking on cases under supervision. Courses cover topics such as:

  • Herb toxicity
  • Overview of individual herbs
  • Therapeutic strategies in Chinese herbology
  • Commercialized herbal medicines
  • Herbal medicine formulas and ingredients

Popular Career Options

Program graduates can practice as Chinese herbalists, usually after they've attained certification and often working in conjunction with physicians and other health practitioners. According to the American Herbalists Guild (www.americanherbalistsguild.com), they can also seek employment as:

  • Herb buyers
  • Formulators
  • Medicine makers
  • Consultants
  • Writers or journalists

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Graduates are typically eligible to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certification examination, which may be required for acupuncture licensing in some states. Individuals who pass this examination can apply for the organization's Diplomate status in the practice of Chinese herbology. Diplomates must apply for recertification every four years and are required to complete a minimum number of professional development courses in subjects like ethics, Oriental medicine therapies and safety. Additionally, graduates interested in other areas of herbology and holistic medicine can go on to earn certificates in related disciplines such as herbal studies, medical herbalism, Ayurveda and herbal therapy.

Those interested in herbal medicine can find certificate programs training them in the art of Oriental or Chinese healing. Graduates can then look into taking the (NCCAOM) certification examination and achieving Diplomate status in Chinese herbology.


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