Inspirational Articles

What is Herbalism?

What is Herbalism?

by Peter Laker

I began my career in herbalism 27 years ago, at that time it was almost an unknown profession. After studying with a Master herbalist for several years I felt compelled to teach this ancient practice of healing. Today things have changed dramatically and the term is common knowledge. The demand for the knowledge of herbs has resulted in the emergence of some reputable schools of herbalism.

Herbalism is the study and practice of herbal medicine based on the use of herbs for healing. Herbalism can also involve growing, harvesting, and making of herbal products.

There are many systems of herbalism in the world including Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Native North American medicine and Western herbalism. Many of these systems are thousands of years old and use an energetic approach to herbal healing, which is still applied today. Western herbalism focuses on the physiological actions or properties of a herb created by the interaction of its many constituents.

Even though there are many different approaches to herbalism, there are certain principles that all healing systems that use herbs follow. Our approach is to treat the whole person, the body, mind and spirit. Each treatment is customized to the individual, identifying the root cause of disease, rather than focusing soley on symptoms.

Herbs for food and medicine have been a vital part of man's evolution since his early beginnings. There is evidence that herbal use goes back more than 60,000 years. Traces of herbs such as marshmallow and yarrow were found in a Neanderthal burial ground in Northern Iraq.

Through the ages the one constant approach to healing has been herbalism. In fact 80 percent of the world's population relies on herbal medicine with no access to Western style medicine. Aromatherapy, Homeopathy and pharmaceutical drugs have their origin in Herbal medicine.

A herbalist understands the therapeutic properties of each herb and is aware of any interactions or contraindications. He knows the correct form of administration and dosage of a herb and when it should be taken.

Each herb has many properties that can be used for a variety of conditions. Herbs not only affect the physical body but can also balance emotions and lift one's spirits. This knowledge is traditional, empirical, and is handed down through generations of herbalists by observation of the affects that each herb produces with a patient.

The Transformational Arts College Herbal Studies course is over 100 hours and includes all the essential areas of herbalism that will allow the student to have a firm understanding of this healing modality.

There are many ways of preparing and administering herbs both internally and externally. Students will learn how to make a variety of medicinal products from a simple herbal infusion ? a traditional way of preparing and ingesting herbs for thousands of years, to a cough syrup and a healing ointment.

The student will learn how to make herbal preparations in the classroom and will take field trips to learn how to identify herbs in nature.

If you feel that herbalism is something you wish to pursue then this is an excellent course to give you knowledge of how to create and use herbal preparations.


Peter C. Laker, Clinical Herbalist
Instructor of Herbal Studies
Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training

Peter Laker is also a Clinical Herbalist and Iridologist for over 25 years with a practice at Herbs & Health Holistic Centre in Toronto. Phone: 416-221-1662. E-mail: .