How to Become an Herbal Doctor

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Herbal doctors, also known as herbalists or naturopathic doctors, receive intense training that integrates natural remedies with Western medicine. This approach takes into consideration an individual as a whole instead of just treating specific symptoms or conditions by employing methods that encourage the body's own natural healing process. While traditional physicians receive the title of medical doctor, or MD, licensed herbal doctors receive the title of natural doctor, or ND. While Herbal doctors cannot write prescriptions for drugs at traditional pharmacies because they are not licensed medical practitioners.

  • Pass the prerequisite courses required to enter an ND program. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) states that most colleges of natural medicine require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. You must take the following classes and pass with a C while working toward a degree or afterward graduation: college math, organic chemistry or organic biochemistry, general biology, physics or human kinesiology, psychology and humanities courses.

  • Enroll in a college of natural medicine. In North America, there are seven schools affiliated with the AANMC that meet academic and federal standards of education. While some community colleges and distance-learning institutions offer certificates in herbal medicine, the U.S. Department of Education, according to the AANMC, does not approve most.

  • Meet the admission requirements. Because there are so few accredited colleges of natural medicine in the U.S., the competition to be accepted is high. Many schools require applicants to pass an interview with an admission's counselor. The AANMC states that colleges look for applicants who welcome challenges, think critically and are also intuitive and creative. As an applicant, you must show concern for other people, be motivated, believe herbal and natural medicine if effective, have a high sense of integrity, show social maturity and have keen communication and observational skills.

  • Pass the courses required to become a doctor of natural medicine. The National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore., states that first-year students learn about functions of the human body, philosophy, naturopathic theory and therapeutics. Second-year students study diseases and their diagnosis, therapeutic manipulation, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine and nutrition. Students must also pass the clinical entrance exam their second year of school. During the third year, students continue to learn about botanical medicine, nutrition, manipulation and homeopathic medicine, as they begin to learn about the different organ systems and receive clinical training in order to pass the primary status exam. In their last year of school, students continue to learn about organ systems in the body but also begin to work with patients under the supervision of a licensed physician. To graduate, students must pass a clinical proficiency exam.

Tips & Warnings

  • With the exception of Utah, an individual does not need to complete a doctor of naturopathic medicine residency program in order to receive an ND license and practice as an herbal doctor.

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