Considering the components of an herbal medicine course that translates well to the online format, and some aspects that don’t translate as well because they are best suited for in-person instruction

Anything that is theoretical, philosophical, or intellectual translates well to online herbal medicine courses. The understanding of anatomy, physiology, pattern recognition skills, and the foundational principles that underlie the different health modalities translate well to online herbal medicine courses. Anything where we’re talking about how people work with health and imbalance translates really well to the online format. Whether there is a live webinar portion or not, a lot can be done through just PDF files and audio, and in some cases visual.

Online herbal medicine courses that have good audio and video accompaniment help to illustrate or underscore whatever the presenter is talking about, whether it’s a diagram, an illustration, or a photo. It is also very easy to do good online herbal preparations class online with good video accompaniment. This would ideally show the person working in the kitchen or in the lab, demonstrating how to make different kinds of preparations. This also translates well for online herbal medicine courses, detailing how to cook medicines and prepare healthy meals.

What does not translate as well to online herbal medicine courses

There are a few areas of herbalism that don’t translate as well. For instance, when you want to be physically with the plants, like during herb walks. These are never quite as good online as they are in person, because you want the full-body experience of feeling what it’s like to be in the ecosystem where you’re looking at these plants and being able to get a complete sensory experience of what’s around you. If you’re online doing this virtually, you’re looking only where the camera is looking, and you don’t have the ability to smell and feel and trip over a root and all the rest of it.

Another area where the translation is lost even more is when we directly engage the Language of Plants through our Plant Attunement sessions. This is where we sit with the plants, often in groups, and allow ourselves to experience direct communication with the plant. When sitting calmly in this space, the plant can “speak” to us, so we can get a deeper, more direct understanding of what that plant is capable of. That does not translate at all to an online class.

Diagnostics, especially touching diagnostics, is another area that does not translate well to online herbal medicine courses. It is very hard to be able to have an online component where you’re taking pulses.

However, if you’re learning tongue signs, then that could be translatable to an online format, especially if you have good photographs or videos. Sometimes I work with clients virtually, and I tell them to take a photograph of their tongue and send it to me. So that can easily be done in an online format.

Summing it all up

Anything having to do with anatomy, with physiology, with the lens/understanding of the Western modality — the six tissue states or the humors and temperaments — anything conceptual translates really well to online programs.

It is also helpful if the teacher is able to create good self-tests, because a lot of people do well with testing themselves afterwards without pressure. It’s not like you’re getting graded on it, but it’s good to know if you’re understanding the material. If you’re not getting a correct answer, you can go back to see what you might be missing.

If I am leading people through visualizations in order to understand something better or a meditation in order to enhance or increase sensory awareness, that can easily be done online as well. Of course, I wouldn’t listen to those online modules while driving a car. If you are sitting around in your house, you can easily be led through a visualization or meditation to help you understand or visualize something better, and then you can take that and practice it on your own.


The first online herbal medicine course from Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine is the Foundations of Western Herbalism, part 1 begins with a systematic and comprehensive exploration of human beings and human health through the lenses of traditional Western-European and First Nations/Native American. This is interwoven with contemporary scientific and medical understanding.

In order to help others, we first have to learn how to help ourselves. This course takes you from the underlying principles of these healing paradigms to practical exercises to help you begin to embrace and embody the skills and tools that are everywhere around us and, even more importantly, innately part of each and every one of us.

Learn more about this online herbalist course here. You can watch an introductory video and take a deeper look at the information you will learn from this course.

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