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Nurse Herbalist Martha-Ballard - 1734-1812

Nurse Herbalist - Martha Ballard

Martha Ballard (1734-1812) was an American midwife who worked as a nurse and herbal healer.  Her detailed diaries revealed her daily work as a midwife at a time when little was known about healthcare workers. She was an expert in giving herbal medicines and remedies, especially to women who had just given birth.

The history of herbalism extends back thousands of years from around the world.  


To learn more about the history of nurse herbalism subscribe to our website. To revitalize nurse herbalism in your community enroll in our introductory course for continuing education credits.

Nurse Herbalist: Job Description, Duties, and Requirements

Nurse herbalists are licensed health care professionals who use their specialized training in herbalism to make recommendations, provide care for patients and improve their wellness.  In order to practice, they must be either a registered nurse or a licensed practical and vocation nurse.  A nurse herbalist may work in a variety of environments from hospitals to home health care and wellness centers.

Essential Information

Nurse herbalists may be trained as licensed registered nurses (RN) or as licensed practical nurses (LPN) in addition to receiving specialized training in herbalism. They work in hospitals, clinics, holistic care facilities, private practices or in-home health care settings. They educate clients, take vital signs, and make and deliver herbal preparations. Requirements are the same as those of an RN or LPN and also include specialized herbalism training.


Required Education

Licensed practical and vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) require one year of nursing school; RNs can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program

Other RequirementsSpecialized training in herbalism

  • Median Annual Salary (May 2020) *$75,330 for RNs; $48,820 for LPNs and LVNs

  • Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) *7% for registered nurses; 9% for LPNs and LVNs

  • Source: * the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)


Job Description

Medical herbalists, including nurse herbalists, practice procedures similar to those of conventional medical practitioners. They take the client's history, perform tests and recommend changes in diet, exercise, and rest. Unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on illness, herbal medicine focuses on wellness.

Nurse herbalists may work in hospitals, clinics, or integrative or holistic health care centers, or they may work with a naturopathic physician or other medical herbalists in private practice. They might also work in home health care or hospice or palliative care.


Job Duties

A nurse herbalist is also either a licensed practical nurse or a licensed registered nurse. Nurse herbalists educate clients about various medical conditions, perform diagnostic tests, analyze the results of diagnostic tests, administer treatments and provide psychological and emotional support for patients and their families. Nurse herbalists use the least invasive medical procedures possible to encourage a patient's healing or continuing good health.

A nurse herbalist may observe and record a client's vital signs and collect samples for testing. If necessary, they may assist clients with dressing and undressing, walking, standing, turning in bed, or other activities.

Nurse herbalists take a client's full medical history, including making a list of herbs and medicines the client currently takes. A nurse herbalist may prepare herbal tablets, tinctures, infusions, or decoctions for a client.

Nurse herbalists must take continuing education courses or continue their education through readings and conferences. Having the most up-to-date information is essential for helping clients make informed choices about their health care.



A nurse herbalist may be either a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse. There are different requirements for each. LPNs must complete a year-long vocational course. They must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).

Registered nurses typically hold either an associate's degree (usually a 3-year program) or a bachelor of science degree in nursing (a 4-year program). They are also required to pass the NCLEX-RN examination.

In addition to education and licensing as a nurse, a nurse herbalist needs specialized training in herbalism. Interested students should look for an accredited school or certificate program with a specialization in herbalism. Professionals who practice as herbalists often have a master's degree in herbal medicine.


The American Herbalist Guild is one body that promotes professional competency in herbalism. Another is the AHNA, the American Holistic Nursing Association. Although holistic nursing is recognized by the American Nursing Association as a professional specialty, membership in either the AHNA or the American Herbalist Guild is voluntary and no examination is required for membership.

The certification body for traditional Chinese herbal medicine is the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Applicants must meet background requirements of formal education and apprenticeship or on-the-job training, then take and passes three exams, in the foundations of Oriental medicine, Chinese herbology, and biomedicine.


Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, ( predicts that jobs for registered nurses, in general, will grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $75,330 as of May 2020.

Nurse herbalists combine traditional medicine with their specialization in herbalism to treat patients. They must be either officially registered or licensed as an LPN or RN and can practice in a variety of environments from hospitals to hospices and home care. Nurse herbalists often join professional associations in the field or seek certification from NCCAOM.

Source:  Best Accredited Colleges

Registered Herbalist: Job Description, Duties, and Requirements

Clinical herbalists who have completed a specified number of hours of herbal education and clinical practice are eligible to apply to become a Registered Herbalist through the American Herbalist Guild.


Becoming a Registered Herbalist is a way to demonstrate a core level of clinical skill, knowledge, and experience in herbal practice, that establishes a meaningful standard of competency for themselves, their communities, and other health professionals and institutions.  


A registered herbalist has been evaluated, tested, and peer-reviewed, as confirmation of their clinical skills.


The designation ‘Registered Herbalist’ establishes a recognized level of expertise and commitment to the practice of herbalism.


Clinical herbalists who have completed a specific number of hours of herbal education and clinical practice are eligible to apply.


Clinical herbalists who qualify for Registered Herbalist designation (RH) must have a specific amount of training in botanical medicine and experience in clinical practice along with the other criteria described below.


Education and Training: Approximately 800 hours of comprehensive training in botanical medicine are achieved through formal, comprehensive education, and independent study. 


Materia Medica: A working knowledge of at least 150 medicinal herbs. You must demonstrate your knowledge by providing information about the clinical application of herbs from one of three categories of materia medica: Western, Ayurvedic, or Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Basic Sciences: A practical understanding of human anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and basic plant chemistry, obtained through independent or formal education, and applied in your differential assessment of clinical cases.


Clinical Experience: Approximately 400 hours of clinical experience needs to be obtained through independent practice, structured mentorship, and supervised clinical training as part of an academic program, or a combination of these experiences.


A clinical hour is an actual hour spent with a client. The initial intake/consult and research for your herbal protocols count for a maximum of two hours (even though we know it often takes much longer); follow-up visits count as one hour.


Independent clinical experience, where you are the primary practitioner, should include approximately 80 individual clients within two years. Your independent practice does not include clients you have worked with within a clinical training program.


American Herbalist Guild (AHG) Definition of Clinical Experience: Clinical experience must encompass more than casual consultations with family and friends. To qualify, sessions with individual clients must include a full health history intake, differential assessment, herbal protocols, and a reasonable number of formal follow-up visits. Providing herb recommendations in a retail sales environment does NOT count as clinical experience unless it includes all of the above. 


Registered Herbalists spend their clinical hours with their clients/patients addressing health issues that require a broad and comprehensive process of initial health history and differential assessment, herbal protocols, and recommendations, evaluation, and follow-up care.


Case Histories and Therapeutics: To qualify to because registered herbalists, you are expected to demonstrate the ability to conduct a comprehensive intake interview, compile a case history, and provide a differential assessment by presenting three case histories from your practice. 


Practice Management and Ethics: A registered herbalist candidate must show understanding of your scope of practice and personal practice limitations by supplying the names and contact information of three health care practitioners with whom you consult or to whom you refer clients when a case is beyond your scope of practice.


Letters of Recommendation: To be considered to qualify for the designation of registered herbalist, you must present two (2) letters of recommendation from colleagues familiar with your training and experience as a clinical herbalist. At least one letter of recommendation should be from one of your primary botanical medicine instructors. 


Continuing Education: A demonstrated commitment to ongoing botanical medicine education is required.

Source: American Herbalist Guild

Registered Herbalist Requirements
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