The White Crane Academy is an exciting new college of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM). With a highly experienced teaching staff, a clear emphasis on practical learning, an integrated mix of classroom and online education and a commitment to promoting the very best clinical practice, we are taking CHM education to the next level.

What is Chinese herbal medicine?

Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is a traditional system of medicine that has been practised in China and other East Asian countries for thousands of years. Written records stretch back over two millennia, but the use of herbal medicines almost certainly originates in the very earliest stages of human development.

CHM is a sophisticated and elegant system that has been refined over centuries of clinical experience and more recently has been validated by increasingly rigorous research – both in vitro and in vivo. In China it is commonly integrated into basic medical care, is used in over 3,000 hospitals and has been investigated by 139 different research institutes. In the past 40-50 years CHM has also become established in the West and is widely practised throughout Europe, the US and Australia. This is one of the unique strengths of CHM – the combination of traditional knowledge and cutting edge practice in modern healthcare settings.

What are the benefits of CHM?

CHM offers a wide range of treatments for numerous disorders. In the West it has built a reputation for the treatment of conditions including:

  • skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and acne
  • respiratory tract disorders such as acute cough and asthma
  • genito-urinary conditions including acute and recurrent urinary tract infections
  • allergic and auto-immune conditions such as hay fever and Graves’ disease
  • digestive diseases such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), and ulcerative colitis
  • gynaecological disorders such as infertility, endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • mental and emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression
  • as a supportive treatment for people living with cancer.

However the potential of CHM extends much more widely than this, and in China most diseases treated by Western medical departments are also treated by CHM – in combination or as an alternative.

If you are an acupuncturist, how does CHM relate to acupuncture?

CHM and acupuncture both originate from the traditions of East Asian medicine. Much of the modern system of Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on a diagnostic and therapeutic framework that particularly suits CHM. At the White Crane Academy we see CHM and acupuncture as a kind of Yin-Yang pairing. Acupuncture excels at moving Qi and restoring its harmonious flow through the channel system, whilst CHM works at a more material level to strengthen deficiencies in the body and to expel the pathogenic factors that lead to disease.

Our experience is that using herbs and acupuncture in combination allows a practitioner to significantly extend the range and the potency of their treatment. Giving a patient herbal medicine to take on a daily basis allows for a regular intervention that reinforces and consolidates the benefits of treatment, enables substantial changes to be made, and a can offer lasting restoration of good health. CHM is in effect like giving an active treatment every day – something that is neither practical nor affordable using acupuncture alone.

Can I study CHM at the White Crane Academy if I have a background in other forms of medicine?

If you don’t have a background in acupuncture but have graduated from an accredited course in another complementary or conventional medical training you will still be able to study at the White Crane Academy. However you will need to do our induction course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that will familiarise you with the theory and diagnostic methods used in CHM. Details of these courses will soon be available on the website.

Why study at the White Crane Academy?

Our emphasis at The White Crane Academy is on providing rigorous and clinically relevant training, leading to confident, competent, and effective CHM practitioners with a deep connection to the herbs they work with. We will:

  • Provide a rigorous training that ensures the fundamental building blocks of CHM are in place in order to provide a solid platform for lifelong learning and engender solid professional competence.
  • Ensure that our teachers are experienced practitioners and that they teach clinically effective strategies for CHM. This is essential if students are to graduate with a justified sense of confidence in their knowledge and abilities.
  • Explore the most recent research relating to CHM and discuss appropriate research strategies for rigorously investigating CHM.
  • Organise excellent clinical training in our student clinic and offer all students an opportunity to do further clinical training in a CHM hospital in China.
  • Enable our students to connect with living plants and to develop a deeper appreciation of the natural world.

How is the herbal course structured at The White Crane Academy?

We are offering a 3-year herbal training with web learning support, additional residential workshops, a student clinic, and the opportunity for a study trip to a CHM hospital in mainland China.

Year 1: Introduction to CHM (history, philosophy, herbs & practice)

The first year of the course will involve an introduction to CHM and the meticulous presentation of over 250 herbal medicines. You will learn their names, energetic properties, primary and secondary therapeutic actions, contraindications and doses. Herbs from the same category will be compared and contrasted. This will enable you to differentiate and memorise each herb and build a herbal map as a a solid foundation for your future practice. In the first year we will also consider over 40 herbal formulae. In this way you will be able to gain an idea of how herbs can work together to generate important therapeutic synergies. You will also learn herbal chemistry and pharmacology and how to identify and dispense plants safely and effectively. In the first year you will spend at least nine days observing patients being treated in the student clinic.

For a more detailed look at the curriculum as it currently stands (there may be further development as the course evolves) you can download the following documents.

Year 2: Application of CHM (Integration of theory and practice)

The second year of the course will consider the treatment of common conditions that present in clinical practice. These will include:

  • Respiratory diseases
  • Digestive diseases
  • Musculo-skeletal diseases
  • Urinary tract diseases
  • Gynaecological and obstetric disorders
  • Skin diseases
  • Neurological conditions
  • EENT (ear, eye, nose and throat) disorders
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Mental-emotional problems
  • Paediatrics

A differential diagnosis of each disease will be given and an appropriate guiding herbal formula will be taught with modifications and adjustments to meet individual presentations. You will graduate from this year with a basic competence in using herbs to treat a wide range of conditions.

You will spend 12 days in the student clinic and will be expected to apply your knowledge to discussions and to preparing herbal formulae for patients.

At the end of year 2 you will have the option of attending a herbal summer camp in rural Devon where we will meet, think, and probably drink herbs in an intensive, enjoyable and instructive five days.

For a more detailed look at the curriculum as it currently stands you can download the following documents.

Year three: Advancing Practice (Focus on advanced treatments, independent diagnosis and practice)

In the third year of the course we are asking students to select at least 5 weekend modules. This allows students to develop more advanced knowledge in the areas they are most interested in such as:

• Dermatology
• Research methods for CHM
• Advanced paediatrics
• Providing supportive treatment for people living with cancer.
• A historical survey of CHM
• Autoimmune conditions
• Diseases of the Liver
• Metabolic diseases eg Diabetes
• Using external applications
• Plant spirit medicine

Students will also be required to attend seminars on herb:drug interactions and on herbs and diet.

You will also spend a further 15 days in the student clinic where you will take responsibility for the treatment and management of your own patients under the supervision of an an experienced clinical supervisor.

Students at this stage in their training will be required to submit a 5,000 word thesis in an area related to CHM that interests them. This can be produced in the third year or can be submitted within a part-time 4th year of study.

At the end of the third year students will have the (recommended) option of attending 3 weeks study in the herbal departments of a Chinese hospital. This will allow you to significantly broaden your experience of herbal medicine and treating patients.

For a more detailed look at the curriculum as it currently stands you can download the following documents:

Web based learning

We expect that for each hour of face-to face teaching you will put in 2-3 hours of home learning. To facilitate this we will also be providing up to date resources including a variety of on-line materials to complement what you learn in the seminars. You will be able to navigate your way through this material in a fashion that suits you and your way of learning. We will also be running regular live on-line seminars where you can discuss your studies with your teachers. This is a cost effective and powerful way of reinforcing what you learn during lectures.

Additional residential workshops

You will also have the opportunity to attend at least three residential workshops.

The first will be a pharmacognosy and dispensary workshop at the Bristol Herb Garden. This will allow students to ‘meet’ many of the herbs they will be using and will also provide practical skills on what is known as Pao Zhi the preparation of herbs to optimise clinical benefits.

The second will be a residential herbal summer school, to be held in Devon. Camping facilities will be available and this will be a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the herbs that grow in the UK as well as to attend lectures from senior practitioners and get to know your fellow herbalists.

Finally we will offer third year students the opportunity to go away for a weekend to explore the shamanic aspects of herbal medicine. This will be a time of reflection and deep connection with the natural world.

Where and when will the course take place?

The course will be held in an established teaching college in East Grinstead, an old market town in West Sussex about 30 miles south of London. There are regular trains from London Victoria to East Grinstead station and the college is a 5 minute walk from there.

The first and second years of the course will both involve eight 3 day weekends (Friday-Sunday) of face-to-face study. This will be supplemented by web based learning, including virtual tutorials.

For the final year, students will have the option of selecting at least five advanced weekend seminars, which will be held In East Grinstead and at Regents College, in central London.

How will I gain clinical experience?

We will operate a student clinic on weekdays based at The White Crane Clinic, in Primrose Hill, North London. Students in the first year will be able to observe clinical practice for at least nine days. In the second year students will spend at least 12 days in clinic and be encouraged to make their own diagnoses and herbal treatment plans, which will be discussed with an experienced clinical supervisor. In the third year students will be required to spend a minimum of 15 days in clinic and will be responsible for diagnosing and treating their own patients with the support of an experienced clinical supervisor.

What about the study trip to China?

A 3-4 week study trip to China will provide students with the opportunity to consolidate their learning and gain invaluable clinical experience that will inform their future practice. This trip will be available for students after their third year of training.