Welcome to Phyllis D. Light’s website and the Appalachian Center for Natural Health. A fourth generation herbalist and natural health educator, Phyllis has studied and worked with herbs, foods and other natural health techniques for over 25 years. Her studies in Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine began in the deep woods of North Alabama with lessons from her grandmother and father, whose herbal and healing knowledge had its roots in their Creek/Cherokee heritage. Phyllis’ studies continued as an apprentice with the late Tommie Bass, a nationally renowned folk herbalist from Sand Rock, Alabama, as well as with other herbal Elders throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South.
The Appalachian Center for Natural Health began as a small group of students wishing to learn more about traditional Southern and Appalachian healing techniques as well as Traditional Western herbal ways. At that time, the goal for the students was to help themselves and their families lead healthier lives and to study the regional folk medicine. Over the last several years, the Center has grown into a health resource for the community and region and now offers three different levels of classes including a practitioner certificate.
The Family Herbalist Program (FHP) is a nine month foundation program with an emphasis in Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine and Western herbs for specific body systems. The FHP looks at ways to build and maintain good health and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases using traditional herbs, foods and simple home remedies. This is a great hands-on class and the first year of the Practitioner Program or can be taken alone.
The Community Herbalist Program (CHP) is a ten month program and represents the second year of the Practitioner Program but can be taken alone. The emphasis in the CHP is the endocrine system and its importance in maintaining good health, body systems, assessment techniques and natural health education. In addition, we also take a more in-depth approach to Southern and Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine.
The final year, the Herbal Practitioner Program (HPP), an eleven month program, is an advanced level of study which emphasizes clinical skills, intake, assessment and the business skills needed by practitioners. Pre-requisites to this program include previous studies from an approved herbal program or the completion of ACNH Family Herbalist and Community Herbalist Programs.
In the third year, we bring our previous studies and skills together for a well-rounded approach to practice. This program emphasizes Western and Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine. However, we also explore Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The HPP takes a deeper look at the functioning of the human body, disorders and ailments and the role herbs, foods and lifestyle choices play in reducing risk factors for chronic disease and rebuilding health.
Not everyone enrolled in the Programs at the Appalachian Center for Natural Health are interested in becoming practitioners. Many people take the classes in order to better serve their families and friends; others take the classes out of curiosity or an interest and love of plants. Some take the classes to come home to their Southern and American roots and hold forth these traditions for future generations. Still others take the classes to work in health stores or the natural products sections of large grocery or retail outlets, as herbal consultants, or to work in other areas of the natural products industry.
For those wishing to further their herbal education with a view to becoming practitioners or working within the industry, the completion of homework assignments and full class attendance is required. For those wishing to take the courses for personal interest, the courses may be audited and while the fulfillment of homework is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Course fees are the same whether auditing or working toward certificate completion.
One of Phyllis’ goals is to help keep the traditional herbal knowledge of our native herbalism alive and available as a health tool and a resource for generations to come. Our folk medicine is still active and being practiced in many parts of the South. It evolved in North America and makes use of our native plants, especially those of the Appalachian region, the deep South and the Midwest. Our traditional folk medicine is a combination of Native American plant use and European Galenic (Greek) medicine within an African framework. In the Appalachians and the South, this is overlaid with Irish and Scottish folk medicine brought in by waves of immigrants during the 1600s-1800s. Thrown together by the vagaries of global history, all of these groups contributed to a traditional medical system that has evolved from before the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Phyllis is available for private consultations, to present at symposiums and conferences and as a guest teacher at other herb schools. She also offers corporate wellness classes, complementary and alternative medicine classes and continuing education classes for allied health care professionals.
But, most of all, Phyllis hopes that by becoming more aware of the importance of good health, we can build a community that is earth-friendly and human-caring. She hopes you enjoy this website.