My eureka moment – what led me to become a herbalist
I was a relatively healthy person, growing-up, but recurrent bouts of cystitis in early adulthood, led me to look for options alternative to antibiotics, and this is where I chanced upon herbal medicine – and to my complete delight, it worked! This tiny spark of inspiration grew over the coming years, where I read more and more about the subject, whilst trying out different preparations for minor ailments, as well as starting to grow my own medicinal plants. I later read about the three-year, full-time degree course to become a herbalist, at the University of Lincoln (now taught at the College) and that was my “eureka moment”. I knew that was the direction I had to take.
A curve-ball entered the equation, a few months before joining the course, in the form of a serious illness. Determined to not let this affect my life negatively and my decision to start studying again, I successfully combined the wonderful care, treatment and knowledge of the staff, at the local hospital, with herbal medicine, nutrition and the support of my fellow students (and my nearest and dearests), and used herbs to support me physically and emotionally during my treatment. A year later, nearing the end of my first year of study, and after surgery, the “minor blip” (as I saw it) was dealt with, and I went onwards with my study, a little more wiser, through my own experiences.
Training to be a herbalist is an all-encompassing experience. Of course, you learn the in depth therapeutic, traditional and up-to-date research-based uses of the hundreds of herbs, wild flowers, plants and trees that medical herbalists use, but there’s also everything else that develops you into a well-rounded, professional health practitioner.
With one foot firmly placed in the medical sciences, the study of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, health psychology, clinical diagnostics, differential diagnosis and herb-drug interactions were also a large part of the degree.
Nutrition was also studied, because the food we eat plays a such a huge part in our health, and as Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
Over the course of the three years, I also completed over 500 hours of supervised clinic practice, both observing and taking consultations myself within the training clinic, in addition to completing a clinical placement with a Consultant Oncologist at Lincoln County Hospital, and writing my dissertation entitled “The safety, anti-proliferative and cell growth-inhibiting effects of Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) in oestrogen receptor-positive human breast cancer: a systematic review”.
Qualifications and professional membership
I graduated in the summer of 2010 with a First Class BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine degree, allowing me to register as a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH), where as a member, I adhere to their strict code of ethics and practice, and complete regular further learning (Continuing Professional Development, or CPD).
I am also a qualified FREC Level 3 First Responder, and have completed the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) course, allowing me to provide additional support for those that come to see me, if required, to point people in the right direction for further help. My ongoing CPD also ensures that keep up to date with the latest research and developments in medicine, health, and herbal medicine.
In addition to my work in clinic and out in the community, I continue to run a variety of workshops and learning opportunities to the public, for charities and the corporate sector and in Lincoln and the wider East Midlands. More details about these events can be found on the Events page.
I also lecture part-time in Clinical Examination Skills on the BSc Herbal Medicine degree course at Lincoln, as well as being a Clinical Supervisor within the course Training Clinic, and lecturing on other modules on the degree. In addition to this, I am course coordinator for the new foundation-style Introduction to Herbal Medicine course also taught from the College
My aims as a herbalist
In the summer of 2010, I set up as The District Herbalist. My aim was, and still is, to provide outstanding herbal medicine healthcare support, to my local community, in Lincoln itself, and also to a number of the surrounding villages and towns, namely North Hykeham, Nettleham, Welton, Sudbrooke, Scothern, Dunholme, Bracebridge Heath, Heighington, Canwick and Navenby.
I continue to offer home-visits in each of those areas (at no extra charge), to allow those who find it difficult to leave their home or spend time away from home, for whatever reason, to have access to appointments and herbal medicine, within the comfort of the home.
A large part of my work is now also from my beautiful city centre clinic, where I offer daytime, early evening and weekend appointments at a time to suit you.