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— updated 2012-05-06

Introduction to the Level 1-H option: Personal and family health (Family Health Educator program)

Instructor: Roger Wicke, Ph.D.

Subtopics on this page…

Copyright ©2011-2012 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved.








Who should consider this course option

  • Have you or a family member ever been frustrated by brief, rushed appointments with health care practitioners?
  • Do you or a family member have a chronic health problem that has not responded well to the standard medications that are often prescribed at the end of such appointments?
  • Are you the type of person who independently verifies the appropriateness of your health care providers' recommendations by doing Internet searches and reading books?
  • Are you seeking ways to become more independent of the medical-industrial complex and save substantial amounts of money at the same time?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, please continue reading.

The importance of regaining control of your own health

In traditional cultures worldwide, each tribe or extended family typically had at least one member who was known for his or her skill in basic health care, knowledge of common illnesses, methods for preparing foods and herbs to resolve such illnesses, dealing with injuries, etc. For example, only one hundred years ago in the American West, such skills among the new settlers were necessary for survival. Knowledge of the healing properties of herbs and foods was an important aspect of the traditional culture of that era. Another major advantage that the traditional herbalist-healer had was an ongoing familiarity with the individual lives of their tribal or family relations. Without needing to ask, they already knew the hazards and risks unique to the local environment and the stresses, weaknesses, and idiosyncracies of individuals that might lead to specific illnesses.

In modern times, specific lifestyle, environmental, and occupational hazards may well account for over 80% of all chronic disease in the U.S. and other industrialized nations. An increasingly toxic commercial food supply, unnecessary vaccinations, and pharmaceutical drugs account for most of this 80%. (Proper diet alone can often have a huge impact on our health, as I can attest from observing health improvements that my clients, students, and I have personally experienced after making dietary changes. An increasing number of medical professionals like Drs. Jonathan Wright, Weston Price, William Kelley, Nicholas Gonzales, Max Gerson, James Howenstine, and Joseph Mercola have acknowledged this and have emphasized proper diet as the first priority in helping someone regain their health from a chronic illness.) When I do individual client counseling, I often schedule three hours for the initial interview in order to take a thorough health history that includes occupational, home environment, social/emotional stresses, and food intake habit patterns that will help me to spot factors likely to be related to the client's health problems. However, even after such an interview, I may know only a fraction of a client's relevant life details, details that may be well known to the client's family.

Side-stepping the health care assembly line

Even many of the best TCM herbalists in China and the U.S. rarely delve into diet, environmental, home and workplace toxicity issues, because it's simply too time consuming. However, in many cases eliminating toxic substances from one's life can often result in major health improvements, and sometimes even simple changes can have dramatic results. Determining the offending chemical, dietary toxin or nutrient deficiency can be like doing detective work — it requires time, patience, and attention to detail, which is best accomplished in an educational context by reading, discussion, and targeted questions to experts when necessary. It is unreasonable to expect your health practitioner to know all the relevant details of your life and your home and family situation and to give you a comprehensive list of changes that you need to make. On the other hand, if you arrive at your health appointment having already done your homework by preparing a list of relevant symptoms and observations, questions, and possibilities, you will be much more likely to access the practitioner's expertise in the limited time allowed.

Our modern industrialized medical system is designed to extract huge profits from people whose dietary habits and lifestyles are setting them up for a lifetime of chronic disease; standardized medical protocols and toxic pharmaceutical drugs commonly alleviate symptoms while burdening the body with ever greater toxicity and sowing the seeds of future disease. The system is not designed to restore the health of people with complex health problems caused by multiple toxic factors from diets and from home and work environments. The assembly-line economics do not allow it, even when well-intentioned practitioners try to buck the system and give thoughtful advice. Many years ago, a pediatrician friend with a considerable knowledge of herbs and holistic treatment methods complained to me that it was simply not possible to give meaningful personalized advice when her medical partners were demanding that she see at least 6 patients each hour. Ten minutes per patient! Her partners warned her that the difference between 15 minutes and 10 minutes was the difference between meeting their clinic overhead costs and making a profit. Even alternative health practitioners who graduate from schools of naturopathy or Chinese medicine with student-loan debts of $100,000 or more are under pressure to limit patient appointment times.

I empathize with the frustration my pediatrician friend expressed, and in the remainder of this document, I outline what I believe is a solution. To give you a hint of what I'm proposing, imagine that before you made an appointment with her, you did the following:

  • Eliminate foods, food additives, and chemicals from your family's diet and home environment that are generally unhealthy for almost everyone; exercise regularly; educate yourself about healthy diets and lifestyles and gradually implement them.
  • For specific health problems that persist even after doing the preceding, search for the relevant symptoms and disease categories on the Internet.
  • Try to obtain and read articles that give you multiple perspectives: conventional medical, environmental and dietary, behavioral, herbal, etc.
  • Prepare a written summary of the facts in your case (or your child's or family member's): a concise history of the problem, symptoms, what aggravates or relieves it, including detailed dietary and home/workplace environmental factors.
  • Prepare a list of possible remedies and solutions you have investigated and specific questions you still have that were not explained by your reading.

I know from experience that this system can be very effective, because some of my own clients have done this, improving their health through their own efforts and, in the process, often avoiding wasting huge amounts of money on unnecessary and ineffective medical care. By their own reading and study, they have already tried and eliminated the obvious, simple solutions, popularly recommended dietary changes, etc. I can then quickly scan the written summary and spend the remainder of the appointment discussing what I know about the problem, give my opinions about which solutions are most appropriate, or refer the client to someone else if it is beyond my expertise. It's even possible that the pediatrician I described above, if you had handed her your typed summary in the first minute, would have been able to give you appropriate advice tailored to your unique situation in the remaining 9 minutes that her medical partners allowed her.

Our solution:  educate yourself and become your own health care manager

As I learned by personal experience 20 years ago, if anyone was ever going to systematically unravel my own health problems, it would have to be me. Various practitioners, textbooks, and information sources held pieces of the puzzle, but ultimately, I had to spend the time to assemble them all together into a coherent whole that led to practical solutions. Below, I outline the program that we at RMHI have designed to give you the same reference and study tools that we have used to train health professionals for the past 20 years, in an easy-to-understand, self-explanatory software and distance-learning package.

How Level 1-H (Family Health Educator program) differs from Level 1, our introductory-level professional course

In recognition of the traditional importance of families and tribes to health and survival in the midst of an increasingly toxic, inhumane, and spiritually corrupted industrial culture, in 2011, we at RMHI have initiated a new certification option — the Family Health Educator.

This program, designated in our listing of courses and certification options as "Level 1-H", is mostly identical in content to the Level-1 professional course in Traditional Chinese Herbal Sciences, but the requirements are not as stringent:

  • No formal education in human anatomy and physiology is required; this prerequisite is waived. (Surprisingly to us, one's level of formal education has little to do with how well one does on our admissions aptitude exam; determination to succeed and persistence are more important factors.)
  • Certification requirements are simpler, but will still require you to understand basic symptom-sign pattern recognition principles that ensure safe use of herbs (herbal indications and contraindications).
  • Greater emphasis is placed on simple solutions first: improving diet and nutrition, elimination of hazardous or toxic substances from your immediate environment, lifestyle choices.
  • Fewer herbs must be learned (only 90 of the most commonly used in the Chinese materia medica, most of which are commonly available worldwide), and emphasis is on using foods, kitchen spices, and locally available herbs as a first recourse, then exploring Chinese herbal formulas and more complex options only if necessary.

A significant portion of the course material is devoted to exposing the toxic aspects of our environments, diets, lifestyles, corporate media, and culture. We explore the use of music, sound, exercise forms, outdoor activities, esoteric spiritual traditions, and the study of suppressed world history as some of the means available to help people overcome addictive and dysfunctional behaviors and unplug themselves from The Matrix.

Chinese herbology is one of the most sophisticated systems for understanding how to practically apply herbs to improve health, and this course will show you how to apply its insights to far more than just "Chinese" herbs. Many people are rightly concerned about questionable quality of products from China (see our article: "Trends that will affect the practice of TCM herbology over the next 10 years — the Internet Revolution, the College Bubble, Chinese adulteration scandals, regulatory wars"), and we show you how to use insights from the Chinese herbal system to understand the effects of any herb, food, exercise form, and even music on the human body.

If you participate in this program and realize that you have an aptitude for Chinese herbology, upgrading to the full Level-1 certification program is easy. All you will need to do is to complete the anatomy and physiology prerequisites (we accept documented independent study) and upgrade to the full Pro version-option of the HerbalThink-TCM software.

How this course will help you improve your health

Since 1987, our curriculum has steadily evolved with technology, incorporating interactive game software, computerized and searchable databases, student email discussion groups, and the Internet. Consequently, we have been able to offer this program at greatly reduced tuition costs relative to conventional colleges.

  • The focus of the course is on practical solutions. Our goal is to give you practical tools for making effective decisions about health issues affecting you and your family as quickly as possible, yet in a way that enhances your understanding of safety issues such as herbal contraindications and side-effects.
  • The theoretical basis of Chinese herbology is explained in a clear and easy-to-read Self-Study Reference. After you read this material, interactive computer games (rather than boring rote memorization) will help you understand important principles as they apply to real life situations.
  • You will learn how to take an accurate and complete health history, including crucial details that must be included in every case history in order to apply TCM rules of assessment successfully.
  • Just as knowing the multiplication tables is a basic prerequisite to doing simple arithmetic, knowing the potential significance of random clusters of symptoms and clinical signs is the single most important skill in designing effective herbal formulas tailored to an individual's specific needs. RMHI ensures that all its graduates develop this clinical assessment skill and can apply it practically with the help of interactive learning software.
  • You will participate in small email discussion groups where you can ask questions about specific issues you are working on — your own health or that of family members and friends. The course materials explain, step-by-step, how to take a thorough health history so that you will be able to present your case to instructors, invited guest experts, and other students for suggestions and help. By applying principles of Chinese herbology to your case assessment, you will be able to go beyond the simplistic "formula X for medical disease Y" strategy that often does not work, and, even worse, can lead to side effects. (See article: "Correct and incorrect ways of choosing herbs".)
  • You will have access to all except the advanced material in the HerbalThink-TCM professional software. HerbalThink-TCM provides an interactive and engaging way to learn aspects of Chinese herbology not taught even at many colleges of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The instructional materials and lesson plans take you step-by-step from the theory of Chinese herbology to clinical applications.
  • Each week all students receive by email recommended Internet reading lists, organized by topic category so that you can focus on your specific interests. We are continually combing the Internet for articles that help our readers make practical decisions regarding issues of diet and nutrition, health freedom, environmental health, behavior and psychology, earth changes, disaster preparedness, law and government, financial and international trends. If we believe certain sources contain disinformation or serious omissions, we add brief notes to explain why. These articles are an important supplement to your studies of traditional Chinese herbal and health theory and will help you to bridge the time gap between the ancient Chinese scholar-physicians and the 21st century.
  • All course participants will have met our admissions requirements and you will be learning together with other highly committed individuals from around the world.
  • If you ever decide that you need the services of a local TCM practitioner, this course will provide you with the knowledge to recognize quality TCM herbal health care.

Get started

All the starting materials that you will need for completing your application for admission, including the free download of the HerbalThink-TCM software, are available on our website. See the following step-by-step outline for how to get started:

We've placed one of the more challenging parts of the Level-1H curriculum right at the beginning in the form of an aptitude test, which is accessible in the Free version-option of HerbalThink-TCM. (This knowledge is essential for using herbs without side effects and for matching patterns of symptoms with appropriate herbal formulas.) That way you can determine for yourself whether this course is right for you.

Note: If you discover that you enjoy studying Chinese herbology and want to enroll in RMHI's full professional course, upgrading from the Level-1H to the Level-1 program is easy.