We at Vital Ways Institute

want you to know that during this current global crisis we’re not just continuing to be open, but we’re increasing our services, and adapting and  evolving what we do, to rise up to meet the needs of this difficult time.

While 2020’s increased stress and radical disruption to our way of life has been difficult, we have been incredibly inspired by an unprecedented amount of impassioned people reaching out to us wanting to learn holistic herbal healing for themselves and their loved ones.

In our 2020 Herbalist Certificate Programs we had some of the most committed, dedicated and inspiring students despite, or maybe even because of the challenges of this year.

As the mainstream media continues to promote the false and disempowering narrative that natural medicine has nothing to offer us, and the only solution to our crisis is for-profit corporate medicine, there is a growing movement of conscious people, like our community at Vital Ways, that wholeheartedly rejects this narrative and  embrace this opportunity to stand up for ourselves and to change the narrative.

As difficult as things are, we also know that its in moments like these, moments of challenge and difficulty, where we have historically made the most progress.

So at Vital Ways Institute we are adapting and evolving what we offer to create new and even more effective ways of teaching, learning and growing as a community.

Over the past 10 years, in our 1-4 year Herbalist Certificate Programs, our Community Free Clinic, and in our public apothecary, we have been guiding students to become herbal healers who skilled with using traditional and modern herbal approaches, nutrition and a comprehensive holistic approach to whole person healing.  And this year,  with all that’s occurring, we see it as more important than ever.

Below you’ll find the highlights of our program and the innovations that we started in 2020 and are continuing to evolve.

Live, and Personal

Our classes are always live, so you can actively take part in the learning process by interacting with your instructors personally. Our instructors get to know you, and care about your journey as you get your questions answered, and are given guidance in real time.  But if you happen to miss class, as so many people are being forced to do due to increased responsibilities, we record all classes and you have unlimited access to the recordings that are uploaded to our private YouTube channel.

Hands-On: We send you herbs and supplies for each class.

Herbalism is a living medicine that must be experienced in order to be truly learned.  You can only really know a plant when you see, touch, taste, make medicine from it,  and feel its effects in your own body.

You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve ever tried to learn from herb books, writings or videos.  Since our mission is to guide you to become a skillful healers, we send you the herbs and supplies that we’re working with, to ensure that  you get a hands-on education.

Interactive, Experiential and Engaged Classes

Another essential area of learning that we’ve focused on is ensuring that even if we’re online that you are not just watching a class but have the ability to actively participate and be engaged.  We all know, that even if you like what you’re learning, it’s hard to stay focused if the class consists of someone talking at you for long periods.  So, we don’t do that.

We involve you in the learning process experientially, in a dynamic and interactive learning environment that includes multiple activities, including hands-on, small group interactions, even when online, that includes medicine making, tasting the herbs, practicing healing skills like pulse and tongue analysis.

In addition, we’re very aware of the reality that long periods of computer time are fatiguing to the mind, and therefore make it hard to learn online.  So, though we’ll meet in person as possible, for those who can make it in, when its safe and allows, we also include adequate stretch, food, tea, and going outside breaks.


When you take a class at Vital Ways Institute you are not a nameless, faceless student, you’re a member of our community.  The benefits of being in our community were never more evident than in 2020, when connections were harder than ever to come by, and  like-minded people who value healing, and health are so needed.

In our classes, whether you’re online or in person, you connect with like-minded, inspiring classmates and faculty who share your love of herbalism and holistic healing, and who care about your learning and health journey.

And let’s face it, learning holistic herbalism is an uncommon choice so it can be socially isolating to try to do alone, but with a community it’s not only more enjoyable, you also learn it much better too.


With increased economic challenges happening to many who want to become herbalists, Vital Ways Institute has established and expanded scholarship programs including dedicated People of Color scholarships,  Single Parent Funding, and Covid Relief, and we’ve also increased our flexible payment options.

Extra Classes For More Connected Learning

With the challenges of 2020, we saw that our students were eager to have more contact than just the scheduled  monthly sessions, so we added, at no extra cost, more classes , to keep us connected and learning.


We record all classes and upload them so you have unlimited access to recordings to watch and re-watch as you feel called.  This was implemented in 2020 as we saw that people’s time was more limited and their responsibilities increased.  With the ability to watch videos, our students told us that they even sometimes re-watched certain classes when they felt it would be helpful  and were often able to pick up things that they may have missed the first time around.


As the challenges continue to unfold, we at Vital Ways Institute are here,  doing even more to help train students to become herbalists and clients to be healthier.

If you feel called and would like to connect with us, or join our community to learn this amazing skill, with a wonderful group of people for inspiration, support, motivation and fun, then we invite you to reach out.

Wishing you a healthy, inspiring and transformative New Year,

Christopher Smaka,

Vital Ways Director