What the letters mean
BSc (Hons) means I have a Bachelor of Science Honours degree (in Herbal Medicine). MNIMH means I am a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, which is the oldest professional body of herbal practitioners in Britain.
I completed a 4 year degree at the prestigious Scottish School of Herbal Medicine in Glasgow between 2005 and 2009. Training included 500 hours clinical practice and intensive study (I’m talking no holidays!) including anatomy & physiology, pathology, differential diagnosis, clinical examination, nutrition, aromatic medicine, allopathic treatment strategies, pharmacology, pharmacy preparations, drug/herb interactions, pharmacokinetics, botany, plant identification, therapeutics and of course Materia Medica.
This is the study of the actual herbs of which we covered nearly 200. The usual traditional and modern indications and uses, constituents, actions, research into efficacy by human (not animal) clinical trials and pharmacology were taught and this was balanced by an energetic approach that was unique to the Scottish School. We ‘met’ every single herb first by tasting it blind before we were told what it was.
This process of herb tasting involved initially smelling the scent of the herb and allowing any impressions to come forward, then tasting a tiny amount consciously aware of flavours, sensations in the body, temperature, colour, character or anything else that sprang to mind. Our findings were then correlated with those of the rest of the class before being told the herb’s name. In this way we learned to ‘taste the pharmacology’ and to hone the ancient skills innate in everyone to perceive the therapeutic properties of plants from an energetic perspective. We were also introduced to Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Humoric Medicine.
Other therapeutic qualifications I have include Ear Acupuncture up to Level 111, ITEC massage and aromatherapy and Usui Traditional Reiki up to Level III – Masters/teaching level.
I also have a background in horticulture, which I studied at Norwood Hall Institute of Horticultural Education. I have worked in commercial growing and had a landscape gardening business before I had children.
Why I became a herbalist
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 16 years old. After a couple of years in and out of hospital in various states of crisis, taking steroids and trying to work in my remissions, I discovered the demulcent herb Comfrey. Within 2 weeks of taking Comfrey all my pain had ceased, my ability to eat and subsequent energy returned and I was back on the road to health. This obviously made a lasting impression on me and I started to teach myself everything I could about this fascinating subject from books and became a lay herbalist. However, the Crohn’s continued to flare up occasionally whenever I reached a prolonged period of extreme emotional stress. 15 years ago I had an acute intestinal obstruction and had 4 foot of my large bowel removed. I had refused to believe that it was a relapse of the Crohn’s because I was so terrified of hospitals, and so it remained untreated. This denial led to such a monumental error of judgement on my part that I made the decision to study herbal medicine at a professional level. After a long and convoluted path I arrived at the Scottish School and attained my goal.
Ziggurats are a type a stepped temple built by the ancient Mesopotamians. They reflect the universal archetype of the Sacred Mountain, which links Heaven and Earth / Spirit and Matter. This symbology can also be seen in the Mayan pyramids and the spiral Tors (sacred hills) found in Britain. The ziggurat traditionally has an underground sanctuary inside.
Within the darkness of the Earth lies the innate power of transformation.
I see a connection between this power, which is carried in the healing plants, as they push their way out of the soil into the sunlight, and the power to transform ill health into vitality.
Comfrey was the plant that got me into herbal medicine when I was a teenager.
I love bees. They are an obvious link between the plant and animal kingdoms. They are ecologically vital as pollinators and possibly because of this they have a rich history in folklore and myth of being sacred. My father was a beekeeper and I grew up associating the scent of honey and propolis with him. Although I’m aware of the many therapeutic products from the hive, I am actually a vegan and believe that the bees, especially in their current crisis, would benefit highly from being left undisturbed. Planting organic bee-friendly herbs and flowers and leaving skeps to make homes in would help to increase their numbers in the wild.