Pacific School of Herbal Medicine Masthead

"The Pacific School of Herbal Medicine is dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of our student's future clients."
Adam Seller
School Director

Passion Flower

A Passion Flower (Passiflora sp.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine?
Most indoor classes are held at the School and it's demonstration gardens in North Oakland near the Berkeley border. We sometimes have indoor classes in San Francisco if this is more convenient for students. Outdoor classes are held in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Camping trips are held throughout California.
The School in Oakland is accessible by BART. It is a 12 minute walk from Ashby BART, and a quick bus ride from Macarthur and Rockridge stations. Many bus lines run within a six block radius from the school (including a bus from San Francisco). These are AC transit lines 12, 15, 40, 43, 88, and F.
Is there a set program of study?
Yes and no. There is a recommended course of study. Students study what they need. Advanced classes do have prerequisites. The modular curriculum is flexible to meet the needs working adults. Many professional herbalists and teachers of herbal medicine come here to take specific classes to further their clinical skills, and advance their professional development. Some people spend years taking just field classes before taking indoor classes. Others take the whole program start-to-finish in two years to two and a half years, often coming to class a few times a week.
Will my course work from another school of herbal medicine satisfy prerequisites at your school?
Sometimes. Credit for classes in medicine making and botany may be given provided that these classes were taught by an instructor who meets the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine teaching requirements, and covers necessary course topics for your work here. We will only allow credit for materia medica for students from the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. Allowing students from other schools to transfer in materia medica credits has left these students somewhat bewildered when they enter advanced classes here. Physiology can also be transferred from SWSBM, but most of those students have chosen to take physiology here also. This has been much to their benefit. These are general guidelines, not hard and fast rules. You may ask to test out of any class. Please be aware that no one who has not completed the coursework of the SWSBM has ever tested out of Physiology or Materia Medica.
Do you provide housing?
No. Expect to spend some time looking for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rental prices fluctuate a great deal. Currently rentals are readily available, and prices are dropping. You can easily find shared accommodations in the $400-700/month range. Housing is always harder to find in the Berkeley/Oakland area at the beginning of UC Berkeley's fall semester.
Is the practice of herbal medicine legal without a medical license?
In California, the unlicensed practice of herbal medicine is completely legal with a few mostly insignificant restrictions. For details see the Text of Senate Bill 577. Some states in the U.S. restrict the practice of herbal medicine to either acupuncturists or naturopaths. The legality of other licensed health care providers prescribing herbs professionally varies widely by state and profession, and is under continual revision. Between consumer demand, regulation by insurance companies, the Food and Drug Administration, and medical boards, expect the legal turf to constantly change.
Do you give certificates?
We do not offer a certificate because lay herbalism is not licensable, and a certificate has no real meaning or use. I suppose we could print them on toilet paper.
Are there other student expenses besides tuition?
Yes. Many classes have required reading. For most classes that meet weekly, expect to buy from one to four books. Most students will buy herbs to work with as they study. Students provide their own food and transportation on camping trips.
What are the school's facilities?
The Pacific School of Herbal Medicine is a one-room schoolhouse with demonstration gardens. We have a medicine making lab and a library for student use. Both are open to students outside of class time by appointment. The library's collections on modern herbal medicine, standard medicine, physiology, public health, counseling, and history of medicine may be borrowed. The Pacific School of Herbal Medicine library has a good historical collection of classic Thomsonian, Physiomedical, and Eclectic books representing most major authors from these schools as well as official dispensatories, formularies and pharmacopoeias. Rare and antiquarian medical books do not circulate. The medicine making lab has four percolators, a tincture press, a full set of tools to cut, powder and grind (communition), scales, and stovetop. The school maintains an herbal pharmacy that serves the student clinic and the director's private practice.
Can I work while in school?
Yes. The school is designed for working adults. Classes meet mostly evenings and weekends.
Do you have mail order or internet classes?
No. There are many good home study courses that cover basics. Some of Adam Seller's favorites include those offered by Chuck Garcia, Rosemary Gladstar, Jeanne Rose, and the Dr. Christopher's School of Natural Healing. Clinical work is best taught in person.
Do you offer health consultations over the phone, by mail, or online?
I'll answer this by quoting traditional curandero (and friend) Chuck Garcia, "No. It's is unethical to diagnose a patient without actually seeing him or her and getting complete background information - physical, emotional and spiritual."
Can I bring my children with me to class?
With a few qualifications, yes. The teachers at the Pacific School each run their classes differently. Most classes are taught by Adam Seller who welcomes children. Babies are always welcome. We expect them to be taken outside for a little while if they are crying louder than the teacher can comfortably speak. Toddlers are usually bored by class and are a distraction to their parents. Children four years and up have not generally been distracting to their parent's study. They are welcome to participate in class as appropriate in any of Adam's classes. He likes working with children. Teenagers who want to come study, alone or with parents, should enroll. Children are welcome on field trips. If you plan on bringing a young child on a field trip, consider bringing a second caretaker with you.
How are your classes priced, and how do your prices compare to other training programs of herbal medicine?
Our classes are on a sliding scale that starts at around $5/hr and goes up to around $12/hr. A few classes that have a lot of preparation and expensive supplies cost a little more. Most people pay in the $6-8/hr range. This price range is affordable. It is a good deal considering our staff is amongst the most experienced in both this region and country, and the school's students' career success in the herbal field. Prices for training in herbal medicine vary widely around the country and without any reference to cost of living where the classes are offered or the level of experience of the teachers. Most herb schools in Northern California, where former Pacific School students teach and direct programs, charge far more. Usually between $11 to $18 per class hour.
What is the make up of the staff and student body at the Pacific School?
The students and staff come from diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, race, class and economic background, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political viewpoint, age, and culinary identity (vegans and carnivores). Our teachers work to make the classroom a safe and respectful place, free of sexual harrasment and race-based hierachies. We expect the students to treat each other with respect, attention, and care.
Do you offer apprenticeships or an herbal apprenticeship program?
Adam Seller rarely offers apprenticeships. He has apprenticed only three people in over thirteen years. He usually politely refuses all requests for apprenticeship, but occasionally offers them to the unsuspecting. The School does not offer an herbal apprenticeship program. We call our training classes. Most advertised herbal apprenticeship programs in the United States are simply regular group classes with a quaint name. They have little or nothing in common with traditional one on one mentoring through work. They are most often expensive, and give the student little focused attention from the teacher. There are, however a few wonderful exceptions, such as Howie Brounstein's program.
Traditional one on one mentoring through apprenticeship is rare in mainstream herbal medicine in the U.S.-largely for economic reasons. A traditional apprenticeship is not for sale, and the teacher doesn't take cash payment. The mentor fosters the prentice out of care for his or her profession's future, and usually works harder than payment or trade could compensate for. Seeking this kind of apprenticeship is a bit like trying to find dedicated parental guidance from acquaintances. Many people will offer advice, but few will have the combination of skill, vision, care, professional commitment, and personal connection that you will need.
Can I get Continuing Education Units for classes at the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine?
Yes. CEU's are pending for licensed midwives, nurses, doctors, body workers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, licensed naturopaths, osteopaths and physicians' assistants. Please check with us for details.