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— updated 2013-09-11

Chinese herbal artwork

Herbalist Review, Issue 2013 #3: The right to practice herbology, legal history and basis — updated with new information since 1996

by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.

Copyright ©2013 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved.


The following article has been significantly updated and now includes a section explaining personal experiences of the author validating much of the information and conclusions of the original written in 1996:


This article was first posted on RMHI's website in 1996. It has consistently remained one of our most widely referenced articles by other herbalists. Your lawful right to disseminate educational information about health is implicitly protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by each state constitution. However, medical practice acts defining the practice of medicine also prohibit such practice without a license, and the ambiguous zone between free speech and the practice of medicine without a license is largely determined by the exact words one uses to communicate with clients. Freedom of speech does not mean that we can speak or write anything we wish: yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, making threats, slander and libel, and making false statements with intent to defraud are just a few examples.

State medical boards have a history of aggressively targeting alternative practitioners who trespass on the turf of the medical profession by the use of specific keywords that imply one is a licensed physician: claims to diagnose, treat, and/or cure medical conditions constitute the practice of medicine, as well as using the title "Doctor" to refer to oneself.

The rules for avoiding the use of such prohibited words are generally quite simple, though many alternative practitioners have stubbornly refused to recognize the reality that misuse of specific keywords is frequently what triggers the enforcement actions of state medical boards.

In this updated version of the original article, I explain some of the personal history and experiences that led me to investigate this topic thoroughly. Within the 17 years since the orginal article was written, I have had numerous confirmations of the validity of the original article, and those confirmations are documented in this update.

Subtopics of the update section include:

  • Personal experiences that motivated this article
  • Victimless statutory crimes and their role as tools in the rise of corporate and government corruption
  • The purchasing of politicians and professional credentials and the disintegration of health care education
  • What a true free market in health care and health care education would look like


To read the updated article: