Programs & Curriculum

General Interest Courses

All of our online courses as well as the Herbal Field Studies, Medicine Making and Spirit of Herbs workshops can be taken as general interest courses by anyone who is interested. However, some of the more advanced courses may require that you first take one or more other courses as prerequisites. As a general interest student, you are not required to enroll in a certificate or diploma program. You may take as many courses and workshops as you wish.

If you wish to enroll in any certificate or diploma program, you may do so at any time as long as you have met the academic requirements of the program in which you would like to enroll.

Online courses

Our online distance learning courses were originally offered as classroom courses. The online versions of these courses are almost identical to the classroom versions. They consist of streamed audio lectures recorded live during the classroom version of the courses, including any questions that were asked by the attending students. All of the handouts from the courses are available as PDF files. Once you have enrolled in a particular course you will be able to ask questions of the instructors and communicate with other students via an online forum. This provides you with an opportunity to benefit from the answers to questions asked by other students. Course evaluation is through online quizzes and exams.

You may enroll in online courses at any time and complete them at your own pace. Some courses have prerequisites and must be taken in the appropriate order. Click here to register.


  • Healing With Herbs

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 30 hour classroom course. It includes a general introduction to the use of medicinal herbs for health promotion and the treatment of common health conditions. It provides a firm, practical foundation for anyone who wants to use herbs for themselves and their families, as well as for those who are considering further education in this field. This is the primary entry level online course and is a prerequisite for most of the other online courses. It establishes the basic philosophy and paradigm that underlies all of the intermediate and advanced courses as well as the fundamental elements of using herbs and the practice of herbalism.

    Topics include: The philosophy of Western herbalism; the therapeutic properties and uses of herbs; herbal preparations; making herbal formulations; protocols for using herbs for the treatment of acute and chronic conditions; herbs and stress; herbs, detoxification and chronic disease; herbal treatment of acute infectious conditions.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  This is an online course. You may enroll at any time.

    Tuition:  $350.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli

    You may register here.


  • Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica, Parts I, II and III

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 122 hour classroom course. It provides detailed information on the principles and practical application of traditional herbalism. It is organized by organ system.

    Because of the length of this course and the amount of information covered it is divided into three distinct parts. Each part runs like a separate course. The major units of each part are as follows:

    Part I

    • Physiology from a Holistic Perspective
    • Formulating
    • Herbal Treatment of the Epithelial Membranes
    • Herbal Treatment of the Muscular and Skeletal Systems
    • Herbal Treatment of the Nervous System


    Part II

    • Herbal Treatment of the Endocrine System
    • Herbal Treatment of the Female and Male Reproductive Systems
    • Herbal Treatment of the Immune and Lymphatic Systems


    Part III

    • Herbal Treatment of the Cardiovascular System
    • Herbal Treatment of the Respiratory System
    • Herbal Treatment of the Digestive System
    • Herbal Treatment of the Urinary System


    For each organ system the following information will be discussed:  An introduction to the physiology of the system; lifestyle and nutritional factors affecting the health of the system; the therapeutic properties of herbs that are required to treat the system and their mechanisms of action; specific herbs that are recommended for the treatment of the system; protocols for using herbs to treat the system.

    Prerequisite:  Healing With Herbs.

    Required textbooks:  Holistic Anatomy: An Integrative Guide to the Human Body (Pip Waller).

    Scheduling:  This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisite.

    Tuition:  $475 for each of Part I, II and III. $1,425 in total.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Complementary Herbal Therapies

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 26 hour classroom course. It provides an introduction to a number of holistic therapies that utilize remedies derived from herbs and how some of these can be utilized as complementary therapies that can be integrated with Western herbalism. This course also includes an introduction to some of the energetic and spiritual elements of healing and herbalism.

    Topics include:  An introduction to aromatherapy; energetic healing; traditional Chinese medicine; ayurvedic medicine; homeopathy; Bach Flower Remedies.

    Prerequisite:  Healing With Herbs.

    Recommended reading:   Aromatherapy: To Heal and Tend the Body (Robert Tisserand); Homeopathy: Medicine of the New Man (George Vithoulkas); The Bach Flower Remedies: Step by Step (Judy Howard).

    Scheduling:  This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisite.

    Tuition:   $275.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Herbal Materia Medica

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 40 hour classroom course. It provides detailed information on the properties and uses of over 120 herbs. Many of the herbs that are part of the Traditional Herbalist materia medica, and therefore discussed in this course, are traditional herbs for which there is very little information available in the herbal literature. You will be provided detailed information on these herbs, most of which not available from any other source. In addition, information on the better known herbs is provided at a level of detail that is much greater than is available in the general literature.

    For each herb the following information will be discussed: Habitat and botany; harvesting instructions; therapeutic properties; indications; toxicity and contraindications.

    Prerequisite:  Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica, Part III.

    Required textbooks:  You are required to have access to at least two good herbal reference books for supplementary reading. A list of recommended reference books for this course can be found here.

    Scheduling:  This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisite.

    Tuition:  $525.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Herbal Field Studies Introductory Class

    Herbal Field Studies consists of an online Introductory Class and a series of seven full-day field workshops running monthly from April to October. You will learn how to identify, harvest and use many wild herbs that grow in Ontario, many of which are native to or naturalized in other regions of the world as well. At each field workshop you will also have the opportunity to make some kind of herbal preparation using herbs that they will harvest during the workshop.

    The course begins with an online Introductory Class that establishes the theoretical foundation for the field workshops. The field workshops take place in various wilderness locations outside of the Toronto area. Whenever possible, carpooling will be arranged for participants who do not have vehicles.

    For students who enroll in the Traditional Herbalist program that do not live in southern or central Ontario and are unable to attend the regularly scheduled field workshops, the field workshops will be included as an extension to the Level 2, Advanced Workshops.

    Topics include:  Identifying local herbs through the various stages of their life-cycle; introductory botany and plant anatomy; the ecology of wild harvesting herbs; harvesting instructions for different herb species; drying herbs; making herbal preparations from fresh plants; the medicinal properties and uses of local herbs.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Lawrence Newcomb); Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants of Eastern and Central North America (Steven Foster, James Duke).

    Scheduling:  This is an online course. Students may enroll at any time.

    Tuition:  $65.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Chemistry for Health Sciences

    This course provides an introduction to general, organic and biochemistry oriented towards students of the life sciences. It replaces the college course which is no longer available. The textbook supplements the content with lots of examples that relate to health and environmental issues. It is supported by an online website with excellent supplementary multimedia and interactive components that will enhance your learning experience. The lectures provide an overview of the content and relate it to the study of herbalism. This course focusses on basic principles. The math component is not included except for some very basic calculations that directly relate to the practice of herbalism.

    Prerequisite:  Healing With Herbs.

    Required Textbooks:  Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry Plus MasteringChemistry with eText Access Card Package, 12th Edition (Karen Timberlake). There is more than one version of this book. Only the version for a one semester course with the MasteringChemistry Access Card Package is acceptable for this course.

    Scheduling: This is an online course. Once the course is available, you may enroll at any time.

    Tuition:  $150.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Pharmacology

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 33 hour classroom course. It provides an introduction to the major classes of chemical constituents that occur in medicinal herbs, the most common plant families that they occur in, how they interact with the human body, and their relevance to the practice of herbal medicine. It also includes a brief introduction to the pharmacology of most common classes of pharmaceutical drugs and information on potential herb-drug interactions.

    Prerequisite: 
    Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica, Chemistry for Health Sciences.

    Required textbooks:  Medical Herbalism (David Hoffmann).

    Recommended reading:  Basic Concepts in Pharmacology, Fourth Edition (Jenet L. Stringer).

    S
    cheduling:  This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisites.

    Tuition:  
    $300.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Advanced Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica, Parts I, II and III

    This is an online distance learning course that is based on and equivalent to a 135 hour classroom course. It integrates all of the information from the preceding online courses up to this point, adding a greater level of depth and organizing it into an integrated therapeutic system.

    Because of the length of this course and the amount of information covered it is divided into three distinct parts. Each part runs like a separate course. The major units of each part are as follows:

    Part I

    • Diet and Lifestyle
    • Protocols
    • Potentizing Herbs
    • Contraindications
    • Four Elements Herbal Therapy


    Part II

    • Integrated Treatment of the Skin
    • Integrated Treatment of the Muscular and Skeletal Systems
    • Integrated Treatment of the Nervous System
    • Integrated Treatment of the Endocrine System
    • Integrated Treatment of the Female and Male Reproductive Systems


    Part III

    • Integrated Treatment of the Immune and Lymphatic Systems
    • Integrated Treatment of the Cardiovascular System
    • Integrated Treatment of the Urinary System
    • Integrated Treatment of the Digestive System
    • Integrated Treatment of the Respiratory System


    Prerequisite:  Herbal Materia Medica, Anatomy & Physiology II*, Pharmacology.

    Required textbooks:  Medical Herbalism (David Hoffmann).

    Scheduling:  
    This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisites.

    Tuition:  
    $525 for each of Part I, II and III. $1,575 in total.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Bach Flower Therapy

    Prerequisite: Complementary Herbal Therapies, Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica.

    Required textbooks: Bach Flower Therapy (Mechthild Scheffer).

    Scheduling: This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisites.

    Tuition: $390.

    Instructor: Michael Vertolli.


  • Herbal Practice Issues

    Prerequisite: Advanced Herbal Therapeutics & Materia Medica.

    Required textbooks: None.

    Scheduling: This is an online course. You may enroll at any time upon completion of the prerequisite.

    Tuition: $220.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.


  • Diet and Health

    Coming Soon!



A Note on Lecture Times
The hour equivalents for online courses are based on the length of the original classroom course, not including lunch breaks, homework or home study. For any classroom course, there is a certain amount of time that is not devoted to lectures. This can include set-up time; writing and erasing notes on the whiteboard; short breaks; writing and taking up exams, etc. For the online version of the course, this time is not included in the streamed lectures. Therefore if an online course is equivalent to a 30 hour classroom course, this does not indicate that it includes 30 hours of streamed lectures, but rather that it includes all of the lectures from a 30 hour classroom course. The total amount of lecture time will vary depending on the nature of the course content.

Workshops

All of our workshops take place in person at specific times and locations. The dates and locations of the workshops are posted well in advance. Whenever a particular workshop is opened for enrollment, you may enroll online at any time as long as there is space available. For the Herbal Field Studies field workshops there is an online Introductory Class that must be taken first as a prerequisite. For each workshop you will be able to continue to ask questions and communicate with other students via an online forum. Course evaluation is through workshop participation, assignments and/or online quizzes and exams, depending on the workshop. Click here to register.


  • Herbal Field Studies Field Workshops

    Herbal Field Studies consists of an online Introductory Class and a series of seven full-day field workshops running monthly from April to October. You will learn how to identify, harvest and use many wild herbs that grow in Ontario, many of which are native to or naturalized in other regions of the world as well. At each field workshop you will also have the opportunity to make some kind of herbal preparation using herbs that they will harvest during the workshop.

    The course begins with an online Introductory Class that establishes the theoretical foundation for the field workshops. The field workshops take place in various wilderness locations outside of the Toronto area. Whenever possible, carpooling will be arranged for participants who do not have vehicles.

    For students who enroll in the Traditional Herbalist program that do not live in southern or central Ontario and are unable to attend the regularly scheduled field workshops, the field workshops will be included as an extension to the Level 2, Advanced Workshops.

    Topics include:  Identifying local herbs through the various stages of their life-cycle; introductory botany and plant anatomy; the ecology of wild harvesting herbs; harvesting instructions for different herb species; drying herbs; making herbal preparations from fresh plants; the medicinal properties and uses of local herbs.

    Prerequisite:  Herbal Field Studies Online Introductory Class.

    Required textbooks:  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Lawrence Newcomb); Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants of Eastern and Central North America (Steven Foster, James Duke).

    Scheduling: The dates of the 2017 field workshops are Saturdays 10:30 am to 5 pm: April 22, May 20, June 10, July 8, 29, August 12, October 14.

    Location:  Various rural locations within an hours drive of Toronto. Upon completion of the Online Introductory Class you will receive information on the specific locations for the year in which you are enrolled.

    Tuition:  $65 per workshop. For students who attend the first six workshops in the year that they first enroll, the seventh workshop is free.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    Attendance Requirements for the Field Workshops

    General Interest Students may attend as many of the field workshops as they wish as long as they have completed the online Introductory Workshop.

    Holistic Herbal Studies Students must attend at least five of the seven field workshops in order to fulfill the requirements of this course and the program.

    Traditional Herbalist Students must attend at least five of the seven field workshops in order to fulfill the requirements of this course. However, in order to fulfill the requirements of the Traditional Herbalist program, they must attend a minimum of ten field workshops over the course of their program. The ten field workshops must include all of the seven regularly scheduled workshops and three repeats.


  • Making Herbal Tinctures

    This workshop covers all aspects of the process of making herbal tinctures from both fresh and dried herbs, including:

    • Understanding different extraction media (menstruum).
    • Preparing different potencies.
    • Jars and equipment.
    • Using different kinds of presses.
    • Differences between using fresh and dried herbs.
    • Administration and dosages.
    • Differences between tinctures and other herbal preparations.


    This workshop will include both lectures and demonstrations of how to prepare, macerate and press fresh and dried herb tinctures using different kinds of equipment. Students will receive samples of fresh and dried herb tinctures of the same herb that are prepared during the workshop to use and compare.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  This workshop is not scheduled at this time. It will be running in fall 2017. Check back periodically for updates.

    Location:  Living Earth School in Maple, Ontario.

    Tuition:  $95.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.


  • Making Oil Extractions, Ointments and Other Topical Herbal Preparations

    This workshop covers all aspects of the process of making poultices, compresses, infused oils, liniments and ointments from both fresh and dried herbs, including:

    • Understanding different base oils.
    • Different methods for preparing oil infusions.
    • Herbs that are suitable for oil extractions.
    • Jars and equipment.
    • Differences between using fresh and dried herbs.
    • Using essential oils.
    • Comparison with other types of oil-based preparations.
    • Using water-based topical preparations such as poultices and compresses.


    This workshop will include both lectures and demonstrations of how to prepare, infuse and press fresh and dried herbal oils using different kinds of equipment. Students will receive samples of an infused oil and ointment that are prepared as a demonstration during the workshop.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  Saturday March 11, 10 am to 5 pm. This workshop is now open for registration.

    Location:  Living Earth School in Maple, Ontario.

    Tuition: 
    $95.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Making Medicinal Creams

    The focus of this workshop is on making topical creams for therapeutic use using herbs and other natural substances. The workshop covers all aspects of the process of making medicinal creams using only natural ingredients, including:

    • Different methods for preparing creams.
    • Understanding emulsification.
    • Herbs used in medicinal creams.
    • Using infused oils and herbal teas.
    • Using Bach Flowers, homeopathics and essential oils in creams.
    • Understanding different base oils.
    • Storage and preservation of creams.
    • Jars and equipment.
    • Comparison with other types of topical preparations.


    This workshop will include both lectures and demonstrations of how to prepare medicinal creams. Students will receive samples of creams that are prepared as a demonstration during the workshop as well as informative handouts.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  Saturday April 15, 10 am to 5 pm. This workshop is now open for registration.

    Location:  Living Earth School in Maple, Ontario.

    Tuition:  $125.

    Instructor:  Monika Ghent.

    You may register here.


  • Making Sun Care Products

    In this fun, interactive and informative workshop you will learn teh art of making your own effective, natural sunblocks, SPF lip balms and after sun care products with no toxic compromises using only 100% natural and organic ingredients. This workshop covers:

    • What is SPF?
    • An introduction to many different natural products such as base oils, essential oils, butters and herbs that have natural SPF.
    • How to make everyday light sunblock and stronger sunblock for more intense sun exposure.
    • How to make SPF lip balms including tinted lip balms using natural pigments.
    • After sun care: how to heal your skin when you've gotten too much sun.
    • Facial repair serums: what natural substances can be used to reverse sun damage.
    • We'll also be covering equipment, storage and preservation.


    This workshop will include both lectures and demonstrations. Participants will receive samples of products that are prepared during the workshop as well as informative, detailed handouts including lots of recipes.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  Saturday June 24, 10 am to 5 pm. This workshop is now open for registration.

    Location:  Living Earth School in Maple, Ontario.

    Tuition:  $125, which includes all material fees, handouts and samples.

    Instructor:  Monika Ghent.

    This is a general interest workshop. It is not part of the Holistic Herbal Studies or Traditional Herbalist program. You may register here.


  • The Spirit of Herbs

    Although the conventional belief is that the vast wealth of knowledge of the medicinal uses of herbs that has been accumulated by traditional cultures around the globe has resulted from trial and error, according to their traditions much of this knowledge and wisdom has come from a more direct source. The ability to connect and communicate with the many beings with whom we share the Earth, including plants, has long been considered one of the most important attributes of traditional healers. In the last few centuries, reductionism, rationalism and materialism have come to characterize the philosophy that underlies Western medical dogma. This has also had a significant influence on the practice of herbalism. The focus of the curricula of many herbal schools has shifted to the study of the pharmacological properties of chemical constituents of herbs as demonstrated in animal, in vitro and human clinical studies. As a result, the intuitive side of herbalism has been largely ignored or denied at a great cost to our connection to the medicines and effectiveness as healers. To truly master the art and science of herbalism it is necessary to develop both its intellectual and intuitive elements and find a balance between the two so that each supports and enhances the other.

    There are many theories that have been proposed to explain the intuitive aspects of herbalism, however, this is something that can not be fully understood intellectually and must be directly experienced. The Spirit of Herbs workshops are intended to help participants to obtain this experience and ultimately to be able to integrate it into their daily lives and healing practice — for those who have been called to such a path.

    Although the content of these workshops may be practiced by individuals of any philosophy or faith, it does require an open-minded attitude. Some people may have difficulty accepting some of the views that are expressed. Anyone who is concerned about this should enquire further before enrolling in any of these workshops.

    The Spirit of Herbs workshops are not intended to initiate anyone into the practice of "shamanism" although they do include some practices that are common to what are often generically referred to as "shamanic" traditions. The traditional healing path is a life-long commitment. To be initiated into this path requires many years of intensive apprenticeship. This can not be accomplished in a few short workshops.

    The Spirit of Herbs is a six day intensive workshop that focuses on the energetic and intuitive elements of herbalism. It will help you to expand your connection to plant medicines and Nature. This workshop utilizes a variety of meditation and attunement exercises that will help you to experience a greater awareness of and connection with all aspects of the natural world and to develop your ability to intuit medicinal and energetic information directly from plants. It will also help you on your own healing journey and to live in deeper relationship with yourself and the world. The remainder of the workshop provides the theoretical background and guidelines to help you to integrate this knowledge and experience into your daily life. You will also learn how to make and work with flower essences.

    The information and techniques used in this workshop are based on a unique synthesis that draws upon the philosophy and practices of North American and Eastern healing traditions.

    Prerequisite:  None.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  Sunday July 30 to Friday August 4. This workshop is now open for registration. Space is limited. It is best to register early as the workshop often fills up.

    Location:  Maple Sweet, Rocklyn, Ontario.

    Tuition:  $850.

    Food and Accommodations:  The fee for the workshop includes the cost of meals and accommodations. The meals are mostly vegetarian and organic as much as possible. Indoor accommodations consist of shared rooms that sleep two persons. Occasionally single rooms are available. Tenting is also an option.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Advanced Spirit of Herbs

    This is a six day intensive workshop that is open to who has attended and preferably continued to practice the techniques introduced in The Spirit of Herbs to some degree. It includes more advanced methods that will help you to deepen your intuitive experience of and capacity to communicate with plant medicines and Nature.

    This is a general interest, optional or post-graduate workshop. It is not part of the Holistic Herbal Studies or Traditional Herbalist programs. However, for Traditional Herbalist students who attend this workshop it will satisfy 50 hours of their clinical apprenticeship requirements. Students who attend both this workshop and Applied Spirit of Herbs will have satisfied all of their clinical apprenticeship requirements for the program.

    Prerequisite:  The Spirit of Herbs.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  This workshop is not scheduled in 2017.

    Location:  TBA.

    Tuition:  $850.

    Food and Accommodations:  The fee for the workshop includes the cost of meals and accommodations. The meals are mostly vegetarian and organic as much as possible. Indoor accommodations consist of shared rooms that sleep two persons. Occasionally single rooms are available. Tenting is also an option.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


  • Applied Spirit of Herbs

    This is a six day intensive workshop that is open to anyone who has attended and preferably continued to practice the techniques introduced in The Spirit of Herbs. The focus is on how to integrate these techniques into a healing practice or to deepen your connection to the plant medicines for your personal benefit. Although this workshop is oriented towards herbalists, naturopaths and other practitioners who are using herbs in their practice, anyone who feels a deep connection to the medicines even if they aren't feeling called to practice professionally will benefit from this workshop as well.

    This is a general interest, optional or post-graduate workshop. It is not part of the Holistic Herbal Studies or Traditional Herbalist programs but is strongly recommended for Traditional Herbalist students or graduates. For Traditional Herbalist students who attend this workshop it will satisfy 50 hours of their clinical apprenticeship requirements. Students who attend both this workshop and Advanced Spirit of Herbs will have satisfied all of their clinical apprenticeship requirements for the program.

    Prerequisite:  The Spirit of Herbs.

    Required textbooks:  None.

    Scheduling:  Sunday July 9 to Friday July 14. This workshop is now open for registration. Space is limited. It is best to register early as the workshop may fill up.

    Location:  Maple Sweet, Rocklyn, Ontario.

    Tuition:  $850.

    Food and Accommodations:  The fee for the workshop includes the cost of meals and accommodations. The meals are mostly vegetarian and organic as much as possible. Indoor accommodations consist of shared rooms that sleep two persons. Occasionally single rooms are available. Tenting is also an option.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.


Academic Requirements

In order to successfully fulfill the academic requirements of any general interest courses and workshops you must satisfy the following:

  • Complete and hand in all assignments for the course or workshop.
  • Write all quizzes and the final exam for the course or workshop.
As a general interest student, you are not required to achieve any specific grade. However, you are encouraged to write all quizzes and the final exam as these are important tools that will help you to learn the course content. If you feel that there is a possibility that at some future point you might wish to enroll in the Holistic Herbal Studies or Traditional Herbalist program, it is important that you fulfill the academic requirements of the program in which you might consider enrolling.

Academic Policies

Click here to review the Academic Policies.