by Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

Year long sales of herbal products ending in May 1998 is over 106 million dollars compared to 57 million dollars for previous years. This represents an increase of 101 percent over one year. Each year more students enroll in courses not only for personal use, but also with the intention of forming a wonderful new career as a professional clinical herbalist.

In 1989, Michael Tierra, foreseeing this trend, formed the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), to foster a legacy that will establish and uphold educational and other standards for the professional clinical training and practice of herbal medicine in the US. The AHG was also intended to serve as a networking between all those seriously interested in herbal medicine, as well as an interface between the public, the media and government agencies, on behalf of its members. Implied in all of this was the need to elevate the profession of clinical herbalist to the status of a recognized legal profession throughout the US.

Every profession strongly relies on its organization(s) to represent them. Maintaining an active membership is only the minimum requirement.

The AHG is the national organization formed to represent the practice of clinical herbal medicine in the US. It is comprised of professional members who are admitted by a process of peer review, student membership and general membership. All those seriously interested in the evolution of clinical herbal medicine in the US and seeking professional endorsement should be willing to maintain their yearly $35 yearly AHG student membership.

With herbal medicine rapidly entering the mainstream, it is vitally important that herbalists have a voice in its evolution. As the millennium dawns, it will be one of the main purposes of the AHG to promote the ever-evolving tradition of holistic herbal medicine, including Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine traditions.

The Guild is a non-profit, financially sound organization. Based on the recent symposium held in October in Seattle it now has the will, and direction to pursue the complex and costly process of establishing respected legal standing for clinical herbalists. If there was ever a worthy cause and need for extra funds to be made available, it is now.

We are proud of the fact that many East West students are members of the AHG and a few have already completed all the requirements for professional membership. Among these are herbalists Susan Kramer and Aviva Roma. At the recent AHG meeting in Seattle, Aviva was unanimously elected to the five member AHG governing board. East West students should recognize that upon completion of the East West Course, the AHG serves as the accrediting organization. It is important that serious students of clinical herbal medicine maintain their active $35 yearly student membership. This entitles them to many benefits including a highly informative quarterly newsletter, discount on books and the yearly symposium.


Local East West Students Study Groups


Many East West Course students are organizing weekly study groups with fellow students in their area. Another step is to use your study group as the core of a local AHG chapter. The AHG will reimburse $10 of each member’s yearly dues to the local chapter for its own organizational business that may include operating costs for monthly meetings, herbal events and even occasional herbal workshops. Those who are interested should contact the Guild office for further details.


The Seattle AHG Symposium


The newly formed Seattle AHG local chapter hosted the yearly AHG symposium in that city. They are to be commended for an outstanding job. Besides offering a fascinating and outstanding array of classes on herbal medicine by some of the countries’ leading herbalists, there were special workshops and panels with state medical lobbyists, lawyers and individuals with prior experience in achieving legal recognition for the professions of acupuncture and naturopathy. Joe Pizzorno, president of John Bastyr naturopathic college in Seattle, gave an inspiring keynote speech that exhorted herbalists to come to maturity and recognize the need for educational standards as a prelude to pursuing legal acceptance. His speech met with a standing ovation and will be published in one of the upcoming AHG newsletters.

I was overjoyed to see the AHG overcome some of the past misunderstanding and resistance of its own membership and those outside of the Guild, to seriously explore and resolve to pursue the elevation of the profession of herbalist to a place of dignity and legal standing.

For more information, contact them as follows: American Herbalists Guild 1931 Gaddis Road, Canton, GA 30115, Tel. 770.751.6021 or its website at

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