Subject: do I need a license to practice as a Herbalist?
At the moment I am doing self study in Herbology and help out a few friends and acquiantances. I would like to become a registered/practising herbologist. My question is, do I need a license to practice as a Herbalist? (I live in Wisconsin). Many thanks.
What is an herbalist? In the United States, an herbalist is a self-defined professional. There is no national or state system of licensure or certification for herbalists. Professional groups may grant certification to members that have reached a certain level of training as an herbalist. Some herbalists concentrate on growing or wildcrafting (picking) herbs. Others manufacture herbal products. Still others teach or counsel people about the use of herbs as medicine.
One branch of anthropology, called ethnobotany, studies the use of plants in other cultures, particularly their use as medicine. Ethnobotanists, who receive their training through the standard university system, have classified a number of medicinal herbs. Their work helps preserve the traditional folk medicine of indigenous people around the world. The American Botanical Council web site lists some current ethnobotanical expeditions.
Can an herbalist practice medicine? Legally, in the United States, the practice of medicine is restricted to those professionals who have a license. Practice is generally defined as both diagnosis and prescription, with a focus on the treatment of disease (the laws vary from state to state). There are no restrictions, however, on teaching people how to take better care of themselves. Most herbalists define themselves as teachers, healers or counselors rather than as medical practitioners.
Several natural medicine professions are licensed and do use herbal medicine as part of their practice. So herbalists who want to practice medicine generally choose to do so under the license of another profession such as acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor.
"...How do states regulate the practice of herbal medicine?
In general, the "practice of medicine" is regulated according to the state’s licensing laws. The "scope" of the license dictates how you can use herbal medicine. For example, a licensed midwife may be allowed to use herbs in her practice, but only as they relate to a woman’s health, pregnancy or childbirth.
Herbalists generally fall under the state regulations governing a small business owner rather than under the laws concerned with the practice of medicine. If an herbalist is growing herbs for other people’s use, or manufacturing a product from raw herbs, regulations pertaining to the safe production of foods or food supplements may apply. Some states do restrict the sale of certain herbs considered potentially harmful, such as ephedra (ma huang). Professional organizations such as the American Herbal Products Association help members conform with these types of regulation..."
In the U.S., herbalists generally do not need licenses to practice as long as they follow certain guidelines established by the courts.
During the last several decades, states throughout the U.S. have added such professions as chiropractic, naturopathy, midwifery, massage and acupuncture to the roster of licensed professions. Many practitioners of these professions are under the illusion that having a state-granted license to engage in one of these professions automatically grants them the legal authority to prescribe treatments for diseases within their scope of practice. In the case of chiropractors, many states restrict their ability to diagnose and treat to specific illnesses of the musculoskeletal system. In many of the other licensed health professions, state licensing statutes often provide no explicit authority to diagnose or treat any illness; if this is the case in your state, you should take the same precautions as unlicensed health practitioners in avoiding the practice of medicine.
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