Programs & Curriculum

Holistic Herbal Studies Certificate Program

This is the equivalent of a 355-hour program that will provide you with a general knowledge of holistic healing with a special emphasis on herbalism. In addition to the herb-related content, this program includes an introduction to human physiology and a number of related healing disciplines including nutrition, aromatherapy, homeopathy and Bach Flower therapy.

The Holistic Herbal Studies program is recommended for anyone who would like a general introduction to herbalism and natural healing. This program will provide you with practical knowledge that you may use for your own personal benefit as well as to help your family and friends. It is also recommended if you wish to complement another field of study or if you work with herbs and natural health products and require sound knowledge of their properties and application, such as if you are an employee of a natural food and supplements store, or a manufacturer or distributor of herbs and other natural health products.

You may complete the Holistic Herbal Studies program at your own pace. Upon completion of the courses and workshops required for this program, if you have met the academic requirements of the program you will be awarded an Holistic Herbal Studies certificate.

All of the courses and workshops in the Holistic Herbal Studies program are also part of the Traditional Herbalist diploma program. If you are an Holistic Herbal Studies student and wish to enroll in the Traditional Herbalist program, you may do so at any time as long as you have met the academic requirements of the Traditional Herbalist program.

Successful completion of this program is not a qualification for the practice of herbalism or any other field of natural healing.

Curriculum

The curriculum of the Holistic Herbal Studies program consists of the following courses:

Living Earth Online Courses

  • 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.

    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. You may enroll at any time.

    Tuition:  $65.

    Instructor:  Michael Vertolli.

    You may register here.


College Online or Classroom Courses
  • GSCI 1019 Health and Wellness (George Brown College)
    Prerequisite: Grade 12 English.
    -or-
    Stress, Wellness and Nutrition (Ontario Learn)
    Prerequisite: Grade 12 English.
  • GSCI 1120 Nutrition (George Brown College)
    Prerequisite: Grade 12 English.
    -or-
    Introduction to Nutrition (Ontario Learn)
    Prerequisite: Grade 12 English.

Living Earth Workshops

  • Herbal Field Studies Field Workshops

    This is a series of seven full-day 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 or naturalized in other regions 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.

    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 includes both lectures and demonstrations of how to prepare, macerate and press fresh and dried herb tinctures using different kinds of equipment. You 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 includes both lectures and demonstrations of how to prepare, infuse and press fresh and dried herbal oils using different kinds of equipment. You 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.

Online Courses Offered by Living Earth

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 during the classes, 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.

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.

College Online or Classroom Courses

Two of the courses that are part of the Holistic Herbal Studies program are not offered by Living Earth. In the past students took these courses at George Brown College. If you live in the Toronto area and wish to, you may continue to do so. Alternatives to these courses are available in an online distance format from various colleges through Ontario Learn. You must enroll in these courses directly with George Brown College or through Ontario Learn.

If you live outside the Toronto area or Ontario, you may apply to have classroom or online courses from other colleges and universities accepted as a substitution for any of the George Brown or Ontario Learn courses that are required for the Holistic Herbal Studies program. In order to be accepted as a substitution, the course must include a similar curriculum and be of a depth that is equal to or greater than the courses required for this program. Acceptance of any courses as equivalents to courses in the Holistic Herbal Studies program requires the approval of the Program Director.

It is not possible for Living Earth to research all of the courses that might be acceptable substitutions from the many educational institutions that offer similar courses. It is your responsibility to research courses and provide the required information to the School.

College Course Enrollment

Scheduling, procedures and tuition fees of the college courses are not under the control of Living Earth School. You must enroll in these courses directly with George Brown College, through Ontario Learn or any other educational institution that is approved by the Program Director. It is your responsibility to make sure that you enroll in the appropriate courses to meet the requirements of the Holistic Herbal Studies program. You are also required to provide official transcripts indicating your completion of these courses and your final grades.

Workshops Offered by Living Earth

All of the 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.

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 each course and workshop in the program.
  • Receive a minimum final grade of 60% for each course and workshop in the program for which a final grade is awarded.

If you are an Holistic Herbal Studies student and you decide that you would like to enroll in the Traditional Herbalist program, you may do so at any time as long as you have met the academic requirements of the Traditional Herbalist program.

Marks

Upon completion of any course, you will be awarded a final mark or other designation that reflects your final standing in the course as follows: 

  • For courses for which you have completed the academic requirements for which it is the policy of the School to award a final mark, you will be given a percentage mark out of 100 that reflects your final standing in the course
  • For courses for which you have completed the academic requirements for which it is not the policy of the School to award a final mark, you will be given a 'Pass" designation.
  • For courses for which you have not completed the academic requirements, you will be given an "Incomplete" designation.

You will be given the opportunity to view all quizzes and exams once they have been marked, but the quizzes and exams remain the property of Living Earth School. A complete record of your marks will be accessible on our online student database. All assignments will be returned to you once they have been marked.

For Holistic Herbal Studies college courses, the marking policies will vary depending on the educational institution that offers the course. You are required to provide official transcripts indicating your completion of these courses and your final grades.

Exam Rewrites

If you should fail to achieve a minimum passing grade on the final exam and/or as a final mark for any online course, you will be granted one opportunity to rewrite the final exam for the course. If, upon rewriting the final exam, you are unable to raise your final mark for any course sufficiently to meet the minimum academic requirements of the Holistic Herbal Studies program, you may be required to repeat the course.

The decision to require you to repeat a course is under the sole discretion of the Program Director.

Repeating Courses

If you are required to repeat a course, you must make arrangements with the School Administrator. The tuition fee for any course that must be repeated is 50% of the regular fee for the course.

Course Exemptions

You may be eligible for course exemptions from one or more courses in the program. In order to qualify as exemptions, the course must include a similar curriculum, and be equal to or of greater length and depth than the course for which you are applying for the exemption. You must also have achieved an academic standing in the course that meets the academic requirements of the Holistic Herbal Studies program. The decision regarding the acceptability of previously attended courses as exemptions is under the sole discretion of the Program Director. 

Course exemptions for the Holistic Herbal Studies program are only allowed for the following subjects: Health and Wellness, and Nutrition. In order to be eligible for an exemption, you must provide official transcripts from the school that offered the course, including your final grade for the course.

Graduates of the Holistic Herbal Studies Program

If you successfully graduate from the Holistic Herbal Studies program, you will receive an Holistic Herbal Studies certificate. Graduation from this program is not a qualification to practice herbalism or any other holistic healing modality. If you wish to practice as a professional herbalist you should consider enrolling in the Traditional Herbalist program.

Other Academic Policies

Click here to review the Academic Policies.