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


“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson


Academic Community Of Radical Nature-cure

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.  ​

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. 

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

​​​"Flipped" Classroom Model
ACORN School of Herbal Medicine certificate courses offer a “flipped” classroom model for most of the academic portions in each program where reading materials and instructional audio recordings are done prior to class time. Class time is then spent engaging in further discussion, answering questions, and working together in participation of hands-on class work. This approach allows for community learning as we practice key components with feedback. This is a teaching model that is being adopted by Universities and Colleges. The benefits of classroom flipping is that students are able to learn more deeply, there is more active participation in learning, the interaction increases and students learn from each other. This method of education helps both instructors and students to get more feedback. 

​​School Information                                                              

The ACORN School of Herbal Medicine (referred to as ACORN) offers education in medical herbalism, clinical nutrition, basic physiology, field botany, herbal pharmacy, and other aspects of natural health. Our faculty members are qualified practicing 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.

The Footprints in Medical Herbalism program teaches curriculum created by Paul Bergner, Medical Herbalist, Clinical Nutritionist for the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism (referred to as 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. 

Footprints in Medical Herbalism program students are dually enrolled at both the Acorn School of Herbal Medicine and the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism. Upon completion of this course you will receive two separate certificates: one certificate from ACORN and one from NAIMH.

ACORN School Director

Remedy Garden is Nevada City's homegrown herb shop! It is locally owned by Jahwei Chen-Graf, B.Nat (SCU), Clinical Herbalist and Naturopath. She is also a guest faculty member at the ACORN School. Remedy Garden is a wonderful source for all things herbal and natural including bulk herbs, herbal tea blends, tinctures, elixirs, medicinal mushrooms, salves, skin care, incense, gifts and more!

Students enrolled at ACORN School receive 20% OFF on all bulk herb purchases! 

This location is also a pick up spot for local students to collect their supplies and course materials during open business hours. 

Supporting local small businesses is vitally important to our community!   
Online ordering options available.

Remedy Garden 
412 Commercial Street

Nevada City, CA 95959 
11 am - 5 pm Monday - Saturday, closed Sunday

Support our local herb shop!

Herbal Education for Life

We have come to the conclusion that Paul Bergner’s audio lectures studied in the flipped classroom model are a serious upgrade to standard classroom education. Students get to listen to the recordings as much as they want for the rest of their lives for continued learning. Our online herbal education programs offer instruction and guidance to apply these teachings. The classroom setting is a guide to what’s in the audio recorded materials and shows students how to use the tools that are in them as a resource for the rest of their herbal career.

~ Heather Luna