In April 1971, Fred Fletcher Hyde, George Smith, Nalda Gosling, Albert Priest, Arthur Jenner and Albert Orbell set up the National Institute of Medical Herbalists Limited Education Fund (registered charity no. 262584) “to establish the training and tuition of students of medical herbalism giving both lectures in theoretical aspects and demonstrations in practical training.” 

In April 2016, in pursuit of these objectives, the Fund launched a new educational initiative (under the name of Heartwood) with the aim of producing a suite of distance learning courses combined with a practice-based clinical training scheme as part of its mission to promote excellence in herbal medicine education.

In designing its accredited Professional Course in herbal medicine, Heartwood’s aim was to produce a program that is fun, flexible, affordable, comprehensive, engaging, inclusive, mobile-friendly, environmentally responsible, international in outlook and up to date. It fulfils this aim by offering expert tuition by experienced tutors, an innovative clinical training scheme, open-source software, rich and varied content, “24/7” student support, and learning materials that cater for a wide range of development needs. 

The Heartwood clinical training program helps students develop their knowledge-base through experience, initially as observers, then as junior practitioners under supervision, and finally as fully trained herbal practitioners, ready for independent practice.  

The decision to offer the Professional Course as a combination of online learning and on-site clinical training came from a desire to make professional herbal medicine education more flexible and more accessible, and also to make it as good a preparation as possible for the demands of clinical practice. We see the computer as an aid to communication, not a barrier, and we do all we can to make the learning experience as human and personal as possible. 

In addition to the professional training course, Heartwood offers a Foundation Course made up of 12 online Units offering a broad introduction to the field of Herbal Medicine, with emphasis on the practical use of herbs to deal with common family ailments.

We are also working with an English Awarding Organisation to create a Level 5 Diploma in Plants and Health which will be regulated by Qfqual. This new course is a non-clinical programme designed for people who would like to learn about herbs and herbal medicine at a professional level.

In line with its charitable status, all income derived from the operation of Heartwood in excess of course running and production costs are used by the Trust to support new initiatives that benefit herbal medicine as a whole, sharing knowledge and resources wherever possible.

Visit the Heartwood website