Doctorates in Herbology, Herbal Medicine?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by LearningAddict, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I've been interested lately in finding information about Doctoral programs in Herbology or Herbal Medicine. I've found a number of them, but none are accredited.

    I've found Master's degrees in Herbology (one DEAC accredited), but it's a Master's.

    It appears to me that Master's is as high as you can go from the accredited side with Herbology, and after that you have to get a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine.

    Is there a gap here, or is this the way it should be? I mean, what if a person wants to learn Herbal Medicine at the Doctoral level for research, experimentation, and new protocol development outside of the clinical setting that being an ND is meant for? How would they do it legitimately?

    I've seen PhD's in the medical field that prepare a person for a non-patient facing career, so I'm curious as to why this is not the same for Herbal Medicine? Lack of demand, perhaps?
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    As you search you might want to include "Ayurvedic Medicine" and "Ayurveda" in your search terms. Also, consider Australian universities as they sometimes have closer ties to the Asian continent.
  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    There isn't a gap. For starters, Naturopaths are clinicians. Their doctorate is designed to prepare an individual for professional practice.* It is not a research degree. It is a professional degree.

    Nor are naturopaths necessarily herbalists. Some naturopaths use herbs. Some do not. Some chiropractors prescribe and diagnose herbs. There is no licensing, at least in any state I've seen, for an herbalist.

    There is a license, however, for "Oriental Medicine" which tends to rely heavily on herbs. So if I put out a shingle that said "Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine" without a license I might be in trouble. But there is little preventing me from putting out a shingle that says "Herbalist" unless I happen to cross that blurry line between providing complementary services and practicing medicine without a license.

    There are doctorates in OM. And some chiropractors allegedly do professional research as well. I know that the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY has labs, clinics and research facilities where they produce all sorts of research that supposedly assures us that chiropractic isn't a massive fraud cooked up by Palmer and I believe they do herbal research as well which is connected to their own Masters program.

    Aside from that, I would think the obvious degree path for one wanting to study herbs would be a doctorate in plant science, botany or even just biology.

    There are researchers who are focused on plants and herbs and their medical application without being practitioners themselves. Middle Tennessee State University has a Botanical Medicine program, for example. There are botanists who do exactly what you are describing. They do their work for public and private research institutions and publish their findings in scientific journals where their work is peer reviewed. And there is nothing stopping anyone from engaging in "legitimate" herbal medicine research.

    The kicker is that when we find herbal medicine that works, we have a very special word for it, "medicine." Pharmaceutical companies take the parts of the herbal medicine that work and extract them and ensure quality and uniform delivery of ingredients. Taking 5 ounces of a root on Tuesday doesn't mean you are delivering the same amount of active ingredient that was in the 5 ounces you took the previous Wednesday.

    Mind you, I'm hardly a fan of our tendency to over-medicate our population. And I think that many pharmaceutical companies do, indeed, create chemicals that are worse than the degrees they aim to treat. But there are certain medical staples that modern medicine perfected rather effectively.

    Ever had Willow Bark tea? Tastes terrible. I tried it once and I thought it was going to rip apart my stomach. It is easier, and much safer, for me to take an aspirin where I can be sure I am receiving a uniform dosage with fewer potential side effects.

    Naturally, I'm not trying to sway you away from your belief system here. But I think you underestimate the role of mainstream researchers in producing medicine from plants if you think that the study of herbal medicine can only be done outside of the mainstream of academia.

    *I'm not making any statements about naturopathy in general just the model surrounding the "science"
  4. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    If the goal is research or protocol then a degree in chemistry or medicine might also be appropriate.
  5. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I've never found an accredited Doctoral program in the U.S., but I've never looked outside the US, so there are some possibilities. I'd just imagine some difficulty if one wanted to get licensed at the Doctoral level in the US unless there is some kind of connection, but in that field I have my doubts that there would be one widespread.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Licensed as what?
  7. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Yes, I know. When I wondered about a possible gap, it had to do with there being Master's programs named Herbology, but no legitimate Doctorates, with the understanding that the leap from a Master's in Herbology to a Doctorate in Naturopathic medicine is much bigger and more involved than a leap from a Master's of Herbology to a Doctorate in Herbology would likely be, since with Herbology you're unlikely to be looking to be a clinician and probably couldn't be one anyway, at least not legally.

    Yes, that's why I've made a distinction between the two.

    I took a look at Columbia's Biology program, and noticed no botany or plant science courses, unless I've missed them somehow. I'd imagine the other two may be missing something from one of the other subjects.

    I did just find a Doctorate in Plant Medicine from The University of Florida. Perhaps that term will bring up some better results.

    Yeah, I think that's the ticket. Terms like 'Botanical Medicine' or 'Plant Medicine'.

    Which would be great on its own, except, AFAIK, you can't patent many natural substances and when you can the patent is generally considered weak, so in comes a ton of unnatural additions to take of that issue.

    I've always believed that neither side should be thrown away. A lot of the Doctors I meet (generally younger ones) have the belief that people should be giving multiple approaches a try, especially after other things haven't worked. I personally had terrible trouble with my feet for years, so bad that I could barely walk at times. I went to several Doctors, nothing worked. I then finally ran into one Doctor that said to me, "I don't know how you feel about this, but have you tried massage?" I laughed. He said "You'd be surprised. I know a lot of people don't take it seriously, but if you can find a good one you may get some positive results." He told me the only other option would be surgery, so I gave massage a try. A few months later, less than 10 sessions, my feet were pain-free. That was 5 years ago, and my feet are still pain-free and only get massages here and there for maintenance now.

    Had a weird eye condition once. Went to several Doctors, took what they prescribed, no dice. Then I spoke to an Herbalist and was told to take a specific combination of herbs for a month; eye condition disappeared. That was 3 years ago, still gone.

    Before those experiences, I was the guy that looked at those things as complete hooey, so when they actually worked it was transformative.
  8. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    A licensed practitioner?
  9. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    A licensed practitioner of what?

    Herbalism isn't broadly regulated.

    From the American Herbalists Guild...

    And, again, chiropractors sometimes dispense herbs as well. So no PhD you earn, be it in Botanical Medicine or Plant Science or even Herbology, is going to qualify you for a license as anything regardless of the accreditation.

    If you want an Ac/OM license, you would follow the pathways for that license which is often through a Masters program accredited by the programmatic accreditor who does acupuncture. If you want to be a Naturopath then you only have four schools to choose from. Chiropractic has its own path.

    But there is no such thing in the U.S. as an "Herbalist" license. There are only two professions which sometimes specifically mention "herbs" as being part of their licensed practice.

    So what sort of license are you thinking this degree should help you obtain? Because that is going to narrow the selection considerably.
  10. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Whoops... looks like that UF program is about teaching how to keep PLANTS healthy, not humans :)
  11. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    That was in reference to Ayurvedic Medicine which is more deeply involved than Herbalism by itself.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I know I'm setting myself up when I say this but "state license to practice _____" = mainstream. Herbology (a rose by any other name) is not mainstream. In your original post you said you wanted to do research, not practice. Big companies have researchers and they usually hire people with mainstream science degrees - Botany, Biochem/Chem, maybe even Microbio PhDs. If you want a little shop where you sell deer antler velvet or whatever and make up your own concoctions, I'm not sure you really need any degree for that. I guess I'm not sure of your desired destination.

    " For example, Bachelor of Science degrees in herbal medicine are offered at Universities such as University of East London, Middlesex University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Westminster, University of Lincoln and Napier University in Edinburgh at the present."
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2016
  13. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I never actually stated that I wanted to do anything at all besides find information:

    I've been interested lately in finding information about Doctoral programs in Herbology or Herbal Medicine.

    I'm just interested in understanding what's available.

    You mentioned Ayurvedic medicine, and the way that field appears to me, one wouldn't get into it unless they planned to be in a patient-facing situation as the research side of it doesn't appear to be well developed from what I can tell.
  14. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  15. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    During my junior and senior years of high school I conducted a good deal of empirical research in the discipline of herbal intake. My working hypothesis was that if one inhales a certain herb, certain a priori effects will result. So there would be no question per the validity of the data, I repeated the methodology literally hundreds of times over a three year time span.
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Pure speculation on my part but I'm guessing that a statistically significant percentage of our members have replicated your findings.
  17. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Ha. Very funny :)
  18. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I really appreciate the information I've gotten here. I think I'm starting to understand this better now. Thanks everyone!
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I'm confused. Are you interested in research or being a licensed practitioner? A researcher does not need to be licensed. If you want to be licensed, then become a naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist. If you want to be a researcher, then get a PhD. If you don't want to go through the trouble of becoming a naturopathic doctor or acupunctuist, but want to be a practitioner, then you can become a consultant. That doesn't require a degree because it's an unregulated field. You won't be able to diagnose people or claim that you're a medical professional; you can only give them advice. States aren't going license the field of herbology; it's too narrow and there's no demand. Nurse practitioners, MDs, DOs, acupunctists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, and naprapathic doctors can and some do practice alternative and complementary medicine. Usually, acunpuncturists only need a master's degree, but there are doctor of Chinese medicine programs for licensed practitioners who want to further their education.

    I'm of the belief that mainstream degrees work fine for conducting research in this area. Biology, medical science, and pharmacology should do.
  20. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Fascinating! :smile: Such study was probably conducted whilst cranking up some Iron Maiden I suppose.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2016

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