Attending graduate school online is a convenient way to further your education with the added benefit of scheduling your own class and study time. One potential challenge, though: the lack of hands-on experience with a face-to-face guide.
For me, learning how to use herbs alone in my kitchen has been intimidating and overwhelming at times. While videos are fantastic, I felt like I needed to physically watch an experienced herbalist do it in front of me. How much herb and alcohol do you need to make a tincture? What percentage of alcohol? How do you make cough or elderberry syrups without worrying too much about mold growth? How many essential oil drops are too many? Since I needed the flexibility of online education but I still wanted some face to face, my mind was flooded with questions … until I discovered herbal medicine conferences.
The first herbal medicine conference I went to was the Dandelion Seed Conference in Olympia, Washington. Wow. In one weekend I heard herbal lectures and learned new skills in herb and drug interactions, how to grow herbs, making healing honeys and vinegars, using herbs for first aid, using herbs in midwifery, and using flowers essences for trauma. My eyes bulged. My mind was blown.
And then I discovered additional local herbal medicine conferences and I couldn’t resist going, including the Northwest Herb Symposium on Whidbey Island, Washington, and the Traditional Roots Herbal Conference in Portland, Oregon. Both touched on themes like using herbs with Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, back pain, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, gastrointestinal conditions, liver and kidney problems, chronic fatigue and pain, and drug-resistant bacterial infections. These experiences further fostered the much needed mental and physical connection of herbal healing—both clinical and spiritual—to take place within me so I could fully dive into the world of herbal medicine.
Soon I started getting messy in the kitchen. I made my own body butter, lip balms, and healing oils. I started formulating medicinal tea blends and making tinctures. I also started experimenting with essential oils and flower essences. Eventually, I started learning how to grow herbs and vegetables (keeping the plants alive, however, is an ongoing lesson).
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live near an area that holds herbal conferences, much less can afford them. As an ACHS student, however, I’ve learned that many conferences will gladly provide a discounted student rate. Or, for students who may just not want to travel for whatever reason, an additional way to familiarize yourself with herbs is to seek a learning opportunity in a local herbal apothecary or nursery. Just getting your hands and nose into (non-poisonous) plants will help you learn, identify, and work with them!
To help you delve deeper into your hands-on herbal education, I’ve put together a list of 11 (10 plus a bonus!) herbal medicine conferences taking place across the United States:
- American Herbalists Guild Symposium (location changes): http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/symposium/introduction-to-symposium
- Breitenbush Herbal Conference (Detroit, Oregon): http://www.breitenbushherbalconference.com/
- Dandelion Seed Conference (Olympia, Washington): http://dandelionseedconference.weebly.com/
- Green Gathering (Camano Island, Washington) http://www.greengatheringwa.com/
- Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium (Black Mountain, North Carolina): https://www.botanicalmedicine.org/medicines-from-the-earth-herb-symposium-2016/
- Medicinal Herb Growing & Marketing Conference (Port Townsend, Washington): http://friendsofthetrees.net/medicinal-herb-growing-marketing-conference-2016
- New England Women’s Herbal Conference (Camp Wicosuta, New Hampshire): https://www.womensherbalconference.com/
- Northwest Herb Symposium (Whidbey Island, Washington): http://www.nwherbsymposium.com/
- Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference (Black Mountain, North Carolina): http://www.sewisewomen.com/
- Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine (Tempe, Arizona): https://www.botanicalmedicine.org/southwest-conference-on-botanical-medicine-2016/
- Traditional Roots Herbal Conference (Portland, Oregon): http://traditionalroots.org/
This list of herbal medicine conferences is not comprehensive, but includes some of the conferences that look especially interesting to me. So, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to further immerse yourself in the herbal medicine world and apply what you’re learning in the classroom to all you’re guaranteed to learn at one of these live events. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet. Maybe we'll even run into each other at one of these events.
I am a graduate and guest blogger for American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. If this blog contains affiliate links, they will be marked with an asterisk. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.