Medical herbalist


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Currently employed in Scotland


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What's it like?

You would use remedies made from plants to treat people with medical conditions.

Herbal medicine (also known as phytotherapy) is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM).

Many conventional medicines are based on chemicals found in plants, but herbalists use whole parts of the plant such as leaves, berries or roots. They believe this makes a more ‘balanced’ natural remedy. You could specialise in western herbal medicine, or in Chinese or Indian herbal traditions.

You would see people who have skin problems, allergies, arthritis and stress-related conditions.

You would listen carefully and sensitively to each person. You would look at their lifestyle, diet and emotional issues as well as their physical symptoms.

You would:

  • Take details of the person’s symptoms and lifestyle
  • Do a physical assessment and appropriate tests
  • Make a diagnosis
  • Prescribe a relevant herbal remedy
  • Advise on wider health and lifestyle issues
  • Keep detailed notes
  • See people for follow-up appointments

In some cases, you would grow herbs and prepare them as capsules, extracts, ointments or infusions.

You’d also need to have the skills to run your own business, such as dealing with finances, and marketing and advertising your practice.

Working conditions


Most herbalists are self-employed. This means that you could choose your own working hours, although you may often provide evening and weekend appointments to meet the needs of your patients.


You would usually work from consulting and treatment rooms that may be at your home, an alternative therapy centre, natural health clinic or GP surgery. You may also visit patients in their own homes.


You may visit patients in their own homes.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Understanding
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Supporting
  • Social conscience
  • Researching
  • Observation

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You would need a BSc degree in Herbal Medicine (SCQF level 10).

There are currently no degree courses available in Scotland.

To enter a Herbal Medicine degree (SCQF level 9/10) elsewhere in the UK usually requires a minimum of four Highers and some courses require Advanced Highers. One course will only accept a BTEC or Higher National Diploma qualification.  

Degrees should be accredited by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA).

The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (SSHM) offers a correspondence course, which may be acceptable as an access course for entry to a degree course in herbal medicine.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • At least two science-related subjects

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding of health and wellbeing such as:

  • Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF 6)
  • Health and Social Care (SCQF 4/5)
  • SQA Wellbeing Award