Know that I am a student of Medical Herbalism, mentored by Christine Herbert, who I apprenticed for 2 years. See below for full details of my training.
I advocate for local, communally grown, Organic food, and am co-founder of a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at Wakelyns Agroforestry project in Suffolk. Please see www.realveg.org
My dispensary doesn’t stock any herbs on the endangered list, and I’m interested to make my practice more sustainable. What does that look like? I’ve learnt about, and inherited part of a practice which uses a wide catchment of herbs, and now I strive to re-localise and diversify my practice, with the idea to setup a Community Supported Herbalism project in 2022.
A reverence for Nature underpins my practice of ‘the peoples medicine’. This term for me encompasses all that we can do for ourselves and one another as lay people with minimal technology. I am not interested in condoning alternative medicine as an exclusive practice and only for those who can afford it, thus, I will never turn someone away if they cannot afford the set prices, and trust that we will find something that works as an equal energy exchange for client and practitioner. Read this as sliding scale/potential for bartering/skill swapping.
Preventative medicine practices, such as good diet and daily practices are well-proven as much more effective and joyful than curative medicines. Thus, lets get together and grow!
My trainings have been informal thus far. The most pertinent parts are briefly illustrated below…
After studying with friends and books in the heaths of North East London, and then from the peoples, meadows and mountains of Central Europe, I came back to Norfolk and apprenticed Christine Herbert for two years (2013-2015).
Christine has just retired from her practice of 22 years here in Norfolk. Herbalist, iridologist and allergies therapist, and a wonderful practitioner and friend, I consider Christine my mentor, and a foundation stone of my practice moving towards the medical practice from the folk style approach. With Chris I farmed, sat in with patients, worked in the dispensary, pressed many tinctures and worked step by step through the systems of the body and appropriate case studies. Formulating case specific tincture blends, flower remedies, and deciding on diet work and potential supplements. My strategies were critiqued, and Chris explained her approach and reasoning.
Following my time with Christine I relocated to B.C. Canada specifically to apprentice Chanchal Cabrera, a respected and somewhat specialized Medical herbalist. We spent 6 months as master practitioner and student.
Chanchal holds a student clinic from Innisfree Botanical garden, Vancouver Island, and takes interns and students to work in the gardens and be part of the food and herb growing, while having the chance to rotate through the dispensary. We worked all the parts of the Botanical garden come farm, and harvested and processed over 50% of the dry herb that went through the dispensary.
The lively once-a-month student clinics at Innisfree were really enjoyable as a student. Drop-in patients would attend for a consultation by group. Collectively we students, alongside Chanchal, and a couple of Natropathic co-teachers would work together to plan a treatment strategy which was then implemented and followed up.
Both the above mentioned apprenticeships were live-in and full-time. We farmed food and made medicine more or less side by side. I was the first to study as apprentice with both Christine and Chanchal. Deep gratitude extends toward them both for all they generously shared.
On leaving Chanchals’ I traveled Southwards through California, Mexico and Guatemala to the Amazon and the Andes, focusing on community, local farming practices and living local traditions of medicine.
In California I had the honor and pleasure of two months living in with Steven Alpern, Chinese herbalist, Accupuncturist, QiGong teacher. Steve suddenly passed away in 2017, leaving us the legacy of his body of work which is the Neijing Institute. Steve was a wonderful, very humble herbalist. He was driven by his understanding of transformational healing, his studies with Jeffrey C. Yuen, and a deep desire to share how he understood the ancient teachings and art of Chinese medicine.
Then came a 7 month period of farming and living in local community within the Amazon, Ecuador. Here I learnt Spanish, and how to prepare some of the Sacred plant medicines of the Amazon. I partook in many ceremonies, and farmed alongside the large family I lived with.
One year (out of two and a half years of travel) I spent volunteering and working at the Centro Hipico, Southern Peru working with a group of 12 horses. Here I oversaw the volunteers from the ground, and alongside the daily pasturing of the animals we prepared them herbal teas and I applied Crystal Herbs Remedies to one of the mares. When I wasn’t working I harvested herb and made product, profits of which go to the animals.
After this time an opportunity to volunteer at a Medicinal Mushroom farm in the Cusco Valley opened up. 4 months passed there learning how to facilitate best conditions for the growing of Reishi, Lions Mane, Shitakii, Oyster and several other types of Medicinal mushrooms. I also processed and packaged the dry Reishi and oversaw sales within the local community. Taki, the owner and teacher, holds sweat lodge on his land monthly.
On needing to leave Peru (for an expiring visa) I headed for Central Argentina and a Permaculture project run by an off-grid couple, who keep horses, hens, dogs cats. They make delicious in-house chocolates and process approximately 100 varieties of heritage seed which they ensure as viable through their garden. These are sold at markets, so I joined them with my produce made in the Peruvian highlands. Otherwise we made an outdoor kitchen from a horse-poop cob mix, I worked with the horses and we tended the land. Gladys, the hen in the picture below, had skin cancer, we treated her with herbal preparations and diet.
During these travels I learnt many things and was received with warmth and welcome wherever I went.
There is a deep grateful for these years of travel and study. Gratitude for the physical opportunity, the drive to go, and to all those I met and worked with. I continue to draw great support and inspiration from many whom I met in this time, and from many of the experiences of the road.
Shivananda ashram, Neyar Dam, India. Studies in yoga, pranayama, meditation.
At distance with Sean Donahue, Somatic Herbalist, West Coast USA.
Seaweed workshop with Dr Ryan Drum. San Juan Islands, Washington State. USA.
Core Herbs for Practice seminar with the late Christopher Hedley.
Gemotherapy workshop with Cathy Skipper.
I sit in Sweat-lodge whenever possible and partake in Shamanic Women’s Circles locally with Vera Proudlove.
Having studied with several different Shamanic practitioners over recent years there has been a deepened connection to the medicine within me.
Qualified, and fully insured as a Holistic Massage practitioner with the Jackie Hamilton School of Massage in Norwich, 2019.