What is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is the use of plants for their therapeutic effects upon the
body. Herbal medicine employs many different types of plants ranging in strength
from tonic herbs which can be taken with relative safety, to plants which may
have toxicity and must be used only by trained professionals. In the U.S. herbal
medicine usually refers to the use of plants that are indigenous to Europe and Northern
America. There are however many different disciplines of herbal medicine including
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which uses plants native to China or Asia;
Ayurvedic herbal medicine which uses plants native to India, as well as other
disciplines. Herbalism is a holistic approach which looks at the total person
rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
What is the history
of herbal medicine?
Herbal Medicine is the oldest known form of medicine. Every culture utilized
some form of herbal medicine. In fact, medical doctors in the United States
were trained in herbal medicine up until the early 1900's.
about herbal certification?
In the United States, there is no national or state system of licensing or
certification for herbalists. Many schools, including Herbal Bear, offer
a certificate to document the student's completion of an herbal program. These
certificates are useful when applying to professional groups such as The American
Are there Colleges that offer Studies in Herbal Medicine?
All of the instructors at The Herbal Bear are college graduates with science
degrees. Many of our instructors are currently college professors. We are
pleased to offer quality adult education. However, the Herbal Bear School is not
a full four year college. If you are interested in receiving a degree there are
a number of colleges that offer Bachelor and Master Programs.
If you are interested in receiving a degree from a NYS accredited institution
please consider the following schools:
Can an herbalist practice
The practice of medicine is legally restricted to those individuals who have
a license to practice from the state in which they are providing service. Generally
speaking the practice of medicine is defined as diagnosis and prescription,
with a focus on the treatment of disease (please check with your local state
to see the exact legal definition). Many professionals who already possess a license
to treat patients, such as medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, physician's
assistants, and acupuncturist have now incorporated herbal medicine into their
Today licensed practitioners who wish to include herbal medicine in their
practice often employ an herbalist. Many herbalists who want to practice medicine
do so under the supervision of a licensed professional.
There are no restrictions regarding using herbal medicine for your own use,
teaching other about herbal uses, and manufacturing herbal products (teas, tinctures,
Can I bring someone with me
We often get questions regarding whether a spouse, friend, children, can
attend a class with the participant. Only registered students may attend class.
We are an adult learning center. Participants must be at least 17 years old.
Can I bring my
toddler or infant with me to class?
Our classes are open to adults only.
Can I enroll my child in one of your classes?
Our classes are structured for adult learning. All participants must be at
least 17 years old. If you are interested in having your child learn about
herbal studies – I would recommend that you contact Steve Brill. Steve is a
naturalist who runs numerous children’s programs. His instruction is
informative, fun and easily accessible to children. Click here for Steve’s
How do you pick an
The first question you want to consider is "Why am I taking an herbal class?"
Are you taking the class for your own benefit? Are you taking the class for
career training? Answering these questions will be the first step in deciding
what type of herbal school is best for you.
Next take a look at the instructor(s). What type of background and training
do they have? Since herbalism is not a regulated profession, there are no standards
for how much instruction a person must have before they begin to teach others.
Take a look at the instructors and don't be afraid to ask what training the
instructor has had.
What type of learning environment do you want? Do you prefer a formal classroom
structure or are you interested in a program which involves field work? Some
programs are completely classroom lecture and offer little or no field work
or hands-on learning. Other stress field work, and hands-on activities such
as plant identification, harvesting, etc.
How large are the classes? Obviously smaller classes offer the student more
individualized attention. Class sizes can vary in schools from year to year.
Ask the school what the average size of the class is and if there is any class
What can you financially afford? Most herbal programs offer no financial aid.
It makes no sense to stress yourself financially in order to take an herbal
course. Make sure you can comfortably afford the program you pick.
What is the Herbal Bear School like?
Herbal Bear offers a variety of classes and learning environments. Some classes
are formal classroom instruction, others are field orientated classes. The principal
instructor for Herbal Bear is Ursula Basch. Ursula
has been a practicing herbalist since 1988. Herbal Bear has several instructors,
all have years of experience both in their field of study and in teaching. Many
of our classes are taught at Herbal Bear, Grand Gorge location in the Northern
Catskills. Learning takes place on a 30 acre private property where abundant varieties
of wild and cultivated medicinal plants are growing. Herbal Bear is not a
full time school. Classes range in length from a two hour workshop to a full 6
month herbal apprenticeship program (one weekend a month for 6 months).
is the Botanical Medicine Program?
Medicine Program is our entry level
apprenticeship class. Botanical Medicine Program is offered for those who desire an in-depth
herbal program. It is a beginning level program which assumes the students has
had little or no formal study of herbs. The program is held one weekend a month
for six months. It combines didactic study with practical hands-on learning.
This program offers a unique opportunity to totally immerse yourself in the
world of wild plants and herbs.
Over the course of study you will learn about many herbal topics including:
Herb Identification; Wild Food Gathering; Herbal Harvesting, Drying and Storage;
Making Herbal Vinegars, Teas and Tinctures; Herbs for the Digestive, Nervous,
Immune and Circulatory Systems; Herbs for Women's Health; Herbal Energetics and
Herbal Formulations; Herbal Case Studies; Field Identification of Mushrooms;
Mushroom Propagation; Field Orienteering; Exploring Energy Healing Modalities
and many other topics.
As a participant you will learn the gentle cycles and rhythms of the plants
as they develop and change through the seasons. Together with the plants, we
will discover our own rhythms and connection to Mother Earth.
For a full description of our current program please click
How is the Botanical Medicine Program different from other programs?
The Botanical Medicine Program is different from many other herbal programs in
a number of ways. The program was designed by Ursula Basch, a practicing herbalist
and an environmental engineer. The approach is towards a more holistic education.
The program is taught in the Northern Catskills with an emphasis on field work.
Medicine Program meets one weekend a month for 6 months. Students learn
about the medicinal plants, the wildlife that is around us and other healing modalities
that promote health. The program is not limited to one teacher. There a several
instructors who teach, each providing a level of expertise in their field. Classes
are not oversized. The Apprenticeship program is limited to no more than 15 students
to provide individual attention. Students are not required to provide their own
meals. All meals are provided during the weekend. The facility is not uncomfortably
rustic. There are a number of amenities available to students such as: a swimming
pool, hot tub, and individual reiki and reflexology sessions which a student can
schedule after class. In general, the program provides a comfortable environment
to learn in.