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IRH Core Curriculum

Below is a summary outline of the IRH Core Curriculum (for the full document please request one from the General Secretary)


The IRH recognises that to be qualified to practice herbal medicine, the potential practitioner should have completed a suitable course in herbal medicine which meets the core curriculum outlined in this document.

We recognise the need for practitioners of herbal medicine to be competent, professional, safe and efficient. We encourage the pursuit of excellence across all aspects of herbal medicine and encourage the development of quality herbal medicine practice in Ireland and beyond.

Traditional herbal medicine is influenced by an amalgam of ethnobotany, anthropology, tradition, clinical experience and modern research which collectively define the expertise of the profession.

The IRH recognises the need for potential practitioners of herbal medicine to be appropriately cognisant in the history, botany, chemistry, uses, safety and development of the herbal medicine sector, so that they can practice as professionals, and so that the public can be assured of their credentials as bona fide herbalists.

Membership application criteria

 We have set out to establish the minimum criteria which providers of herbal medicine training should provide to students in order for them to be accepted as full practising members of the Irish Register of Herbalists.

Graduates of courses which have not met IRH criteria may still apply if they have other experience which they believe may be applicable. The IRH, through an interview process, will identify any gaps and suggest further training if appropriate. Once this further training has been completed to our satisfaction then full membership will be considered. See the IRH Grandparenting policy

Practitioners of traditional forms of herbal medicine who have not received any formal academic training will be treated in similar fashion. An interview process will determine the extent of their knowledge and experience and identify any gaps, such as knowledge of herb-drug interactions for example, and once appropriate training has been completed they can also apply for full membership of the IRH.

In addition, it needs to be taken into account that herbal medicine is part of our heritage, culture and tradition. Training may also be obtained through apprenticeships, or other traditional routes.

Those who have come through a more traditional training route are still required to demonstrate (through presentation of a portfolio and by interview) prior experiential learning and/or the demonstration of an adequate knowledge base equivalent to the criteria laid out in the core curriculum

Different Herbal Traditions

 Herbal medicine has a vast history and can be traced back to the earliest civilisations. A number of traditions have developed from these early cultures such as the Western Herbal Tradition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Unani Tibb.

The IRH recognises that there are a number of different herbal traditions which have evolved as distinct practices.

The IRH is the only professional association in Ireland open to all herbal traditions. The IRH has consulted with experts in the field for non- western traditions.

We consider that all these traditions should meet the basic criteria outlined fully in the policy document. We have also set out specific attributes for training standards in tradition-specific disciplines which have been independently verified. Where applicants meet some, though not all, of the core curriculum criteria the IRH will identify and advise applicants as to what they may need to do to bridge the gap in order to become fully practising members. This process is known as grandparenting.

Core Curriculum

  • Each module of the Core Curriculum is assigned a minimum level using a taxonomy of assessment domains. The use of minimum levels allows institutions some flexibility in curriculum design and in the educational nature of their programmes.
  • Training needs to be a minimum of 4 years part time or 3 years full time in duration.
  • MODULE HOURS (minimum number of hours to be incorporated into the programme to be accredited)
  1. Anatomy & Physiology 250 hours
  2. Nutritional Therapy 80 hours
  3. Clinical Sciences 350 hours
  4. Plant Chemistry and Pharmacology 80 hours
  5. Pharmacognosy and Dispensing 100 hours
  6. Practitioner Development and Ethics 150 hours
  7. Research Methodologies 150 hours
  8. The Western Herbal Tradition 1,150 hours
  9. Clinical Practice 500 contact hours
  10. Field Work 50 hours

TOTAL: 2860 hours

  • Within these minimum totals, the relationship between contact hours and home-study hours will depend on the design of the programme and the previous learning and experience of the students.
  • It is for each institution to justify in educational terms the hours allocated within modules and teaching/learning approaches used. For example a module might consist of 1 contact hour to 2 home-study hours provided this breakdown covers core learning outcomes.
  • In the case of the clinical-practice module, it is required that 50% or more of the module hours will be spent on clinical work in direct proximity to patients.
  • Remaining clinical hours may consist of case discussions, elaborating diagnoses, researching treatments, writing up cases, and other clinically relevant activities.
  • Please note that all clinical practice hours must be undertaken in an approved clinical learning environment, under the direction of the Clinic Supervisor and directly relate to the achievement of the clinical module learning outcomes.

 Assessment of Learning Outcomes

  • Each institution is required to present an assessment strategy for the programme as a whole, alongside a detailed account of the assessment process for each module.
  • The IRH does not impose any particular assessment techniques but will seek evidence from the institution to ensure that they fulfil certain criteria

The IRH education policy is reviewed annually, or in the event of important developments, legal or otherwise.

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