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Academic Community Of Radical Nature-cure

In order to practice herbalism effectively, one must turn towards Nature as the original instructor

Solomon's seal

Understanding Vitalism

      “Vitalism in healing is a clinical strategy based on the principle that Life, Nature, and the Great Spirit from which they arise are fully present in all the tissues of the body, and also in the psyche, the spiritual heart, and the soul, sustaining life and health, providing momentum for personal evolution on all levels, and for the fulfillment of the highest purpose in social and spiritual life. Vitalist practitioners employ clinical strategies and methods which support this life power through encouragement of nourishment, digestion, rest, and appropriate activity, identification of purpose in personal life, connection with nature, an active spiritual life, identification and removal of obstacles to cure on all levels, and avoidance of methods which suppress or distort life processes. The Vitalist incorporates all aspects of science, especially physiology and pathophysiology, but equally values knowledge from traditional herbalism, empirical observation, instinct and intuition, and is not confined to the narrow materialistic world view that dominates much of modern science, medicine, and social life.”     – Paul Bergner

Trees & sunlight

Our Lineage

 In 1854, a Bavarian Priest named Sebastian Kneipp grew famous for treating thousands of sick people using herbs, nutrition, specialized applications of water, and steams, along with prescriptions for exercise in the fresh air. He learned herbalism from his mother then added the Nature Cure treatments he learned as an avid reader. Kneipp Therapy became adopted across Europe with the establishment of Kneipp nurses practicing these methods. One of the people Kneipp treated was a man named Henry Lindlahr who became his devoted student and brought the teachings of Nature Cure to America. Lindlahr developed a school and held a 200 patient bed hospital in Chicago, to which people traveled from across the country seeking his treatments and knowledge of natural medicine. OJ Carrol later took up his work practicing these methods in Spokane, Washington. It was one of Carrol's students, Dr. Harold Dick, who instructed at the Naturopathic University in Portland and influenced Paul Bergner to carry on this Vitalist system of medicine. Heather Luna became one of Paul Bergner's dedicated students and began to practice in vitalist therapeutics in 2002.  The core principles of this Vitalist lineage are carried on in their original essence with adaptations for modern life through the teachings at ACORN.


Working with plants is working with the forces of Nature

​Nature Cure is a healing modality as old as humanity itself. Our contemporary expression of it originated in the mid-1800s. Practitioners used whole food diets, restoration of the circadian rhythm, bathing in healing waters, movement in the fresh clean air, and the skilled application of herbs. This was practiced while spending ample time in natural landscapes and wild places. They found these methods to be curative of many conditions. It is from this tradition that modern naturopathic medicine was developed. In order to facilitate a cure we must unpack the habits of modern lifestyle and restore the balance of Nature’s original instructions in human life. It is our mission to resurrect these principles in the practice of western herbalism today.

We are a learning community and each of us comes to this calling with something to offer. We learn directly from experience, from our own and from each other. Every student on this path has the ability to become a teacher for ourselves, for those we serve, and for one another. The unique effects of herbs on one individual offer experience for all of us in the setting of shared community learning.


We cultivate a ferocious appetite for learning with in-depth study and rigor in our academic work. In defense of Nature’s ability to heal, we take a radical stand against those dominant medical practices that suppress life’s innate healing processes. We are the resistance against the distorted views of suppression which are known to cause harm and illness. 

We have come to call our school the Academic Community of Radical Nature-cure. Servants of life, lovers of trees, humble nuts of the mighty oak.

Circle of hands

Our Philosophy

In the practice of herbalism, we seek to treat the whole person, not the disease. In doing so herbalists employ healing methods intended to increase vitality and support the natural forces within us to restore balance on all levels. Our educational programs emphasize Vitalist principals in which to elevate the quality of life to facilitate deeper and more meaningful relationships with ourselves, our bodies, our community and to the Earth. We offer both a traditional and clinical platform from which to launch herbal practitioners into the life long journey. Using herbs as a way of life is an art. We support the creative process of self-care as a means to offer our services to others.  ​

St. John's Wort

Our Vision

We invite you to participate in paving the way for a cultural shift in healing the landscape of the human being. As herbalists we employ healing methods that support Nature's innate ability to flourish. On this journey we learn to work with the forces of Nature.  We seek to establish a better quality of life in modern living, knowing that health and wellness are not limited to what is perceived in physical form, but must be addressed at all levels of our being. This approach to personalized health care fosters an enriched human experience which directly affects the well-being of our relationships, our communities, and our culture. ACORN School of Herbal Medicine wellness programs are how we want to contribute and best serve our community, both locally and globally. 

ACORN School

School Information

The Acorn School of Herbal Medicine (referred to as ACORN) offers education in medical herbalism, clinical nutrition, basic physiology, herbal pharmacy, and other aspects of natural health. Our faculty members are certified herbalists with professional clinical experience and strong backgrounds in clinical nutrition. Our programs are not accredited by any educational agency in the State of California. 


ACORN is affiliated with the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism (referred to as NAIMH). ACORN teaches the curriculum created by Paul Bergner, Medical Herbalist and Clinical Nutritionist for NAIMH. Paul founded NAIMH in 2003, and from 2003 until 2012, NAIMH was approved and Regulated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Private Occupational School Board. In July 2012 NAIMH relocated to Portland, Oregon. Oregon does not regulate this type of school, but NAIMH has kept and maintained the coursework approved by Colorado. NAIMH is not academically accredited, and students are not eligible for federal government loans.

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