No to licensing of herbalists

2 February 2006 Feast of Flames

Dear Marguerite, and anyone else who thinks herbalists need licenses:

No to all licensing of herbs and herbalists. Never. No way.

Ask the midwives of North America. They fell for "let's regulate ourselves before the big boys do." And they regulated themselves out of existence. There are no midwives left, according to Jeannine Parvati; only medwives. I agree. Let us learn from their mistake. No licenses for herbalists.

Herbal medicine is people's medicine. People don't need licenses to care for themselves and their families. Licenses don't protect people; they protect, and create, institutions. Herbalism is change, individuality, and uniqueness. Institutions don't change. Licensing herbalists kills herbal medicine. Licenses, and their companion, liability insurance, set up protocols. The art of herbalism is re-placed with "evidence-based" science designed to protect healers, not heal patients. No licenses for herbalists.

I have taught and lived in Germany, where herbs and herbalism are licensed. In daily life, this meant my access to herbs was limited, and my students -- many of whom are professional, licensed healers -- were threatened with loss of their licenses when they recommended home-made medicines such as dandelion vinegar and St. Joan's/John's wort oil. No licenses for herbalists.

Any American who wants a license to heal with herbs can get one. There are plenty available. Be an herbalist and a massage therapist, an herbalist and a chiropractor, a naturopath specializing in herbs, an acupuncturist/herbalist, even an M.D. herbalist. Surely these are enough. No more licenses.

Licenses do not confer credit or merit or worth. They replace these things. We have an excellent system already in place for "certifying" herbalists: the apprentice system. We know each other, our strengths and foibles. We know who we have trained. And we talk openly. Licenses make people less secure, less likely to trust each other, less open, more protective. No licenses for herbalists.

Herbs are not manufactured. They grow. Besides standards of purity and identity -- which are in place -- we do not need rules. Except perhaps to consider banning the use of herbs in capsules, which, to my mind, are more likely to be harmful than any other dosage form available.

I stand firm and proud for herbal medicine free of licenses. Reconsider your plan. Herbalists have a long heritage as revolutionaries. Don't make Culpepper and Euell Gibbons, Maude Grieves and Adelma Simmons rise from their graves to remind us: No licenses for herbalists.

I, personally don't want to be forced to go underground, like the Chinese acupuncturists in my area, who cannot legally practice because they don't speak enough English to pass the exam and get a license. No licenses for herbalists.

I say "NO" to all attempts to license herbalists. Please raise your voices with me, in a lusty green yell:


Green blessings, Susun S. Weed