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, & am co-founder of a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at Wakelyns Agroforestry project in Suffolk. Please see www.wakelyns.co.uk/realveg
My dispensary doesn’t stock any herbs on the endangered list, & I’m interested to make my practice more sustainable. What does that look like? I’ve learnt about, & inherited part of a practice which uses a wide catchment of herbs, & now I strive to re-localize & simplify my practice, with the idea to setup Community Supported Herbalism as a part of the previously mentioned CSA at Wakelyns, Suffolk.
A reverence for Nature underpins my practice of ‘the peoples medicine’. This term for me encompasses all that we can do for ourselves & one another as lay people with minimal technology. I am not interested in condoning alternative medicine as an exclusive practice & only for those who can afford it, thus, I will never turn someone away if they cannot afford the set prices, & trust that we will find something that works as an equal energy exchange for client & practitioner. Read this as sliding scale/potential for bartering/skill swapping.
Preventative medicine practices, such as good diet & daily practices are well-proven as much more effective & joyful than curative medicines.
My trainings have been informal thus far. The most pertinent parts are briefly illustrated below…
After studying with friends & books in the heaths of North East London, & then from the peoples, meadows & mountains of Central Europe, I came back to Norfolk where I apprenticed Christine Herbert for two years (2013-2015).
Christine retired from her Norfolk based practice of 22 years in 2019. Herbalist, iridologist, allergies therapist, & now author, Christine continues to be my mentor & is a foundation stone of my practice moving towards the medical from a folk style approach. During my stay with Chris I farmed on her small-holding, sat in with patients, worked in the dispensary, pressed many tinctures & worked step by step through the systems of the body with appropriate case studies. Formulating case specific tincture blends, flower remedies, & deciding on diet work & potential supplements. My strategies were critiqued, & Chris explained her approach & reasoning.
Following my time with Christine I relocated to B.C. Canada specifically to apprentice Chanchal Cabrera, a respected & somewhat specialized Medical herbalist. We spent 6 months as master practitioner & student, while I again farmed and harvested herbs for clinic day to day.
Chanchal holds a student clinic from Innisfree Botanical garden, Vancouver Island, & takes interns & students to work in the gardens & be part of the food & herb growing, while having the chance to rotate through the dispensary. We worked all the parts of the Botanical garden come farm, harvesting and processing over 50% of the dry herb (read teas) that went through the dispensary.
The lively once-a-month student clinics at Innisfree were incredibly enjoyable as a student. Drop-in patients would attend for a consultation by group. Collectively we students, alongside Chanchal, & a couple of friendly Natropathic co-teachers would work together to plan a treatment strategy which was then implemented & followed up a month of so later.
Both the above mentioned apprenticeships were live-in immersive, & full-time. We farmed food & made medicine more or less side by side. I was the first to study as apprentice with both Christine & Chanchal. Deep gratitude extends toward them both for all they generously shared.
On leaving Chanchals’ in BC, Canada I traveled Southwards through California, Mexico & Guatemala to the Amazon & the Andes, focusing on community, local farming practices & living local traditions of medicine.
In California I had the honor & 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, & a deep desire to share how he understood the ancient teachings & art of Chinese medicine.
Then came a 7 month period of farming & living in local community within the Amazon, Ecuador. Here I learnt Spanish, & how to prepare some of the Sacred plant medicines of the Amazon. I partook in many ceremonies, a& farmed alongside the large Indigenous family I lived with.
One year (out of two & a half years of travel) I spent volunteering & working at the Centro Hipico, Southern Peru working with a group of 12 horses. Here I oversaw the volunteers from the ground, & alongside the daily pasturing of the animals we prepared them herbal teas & I applied Crystal Herbs Remedies to one of the mares. When I wasn’t working I harvested herb & 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 & several other types of Medicinal mushrooms. I also processed & packaged the dry Reishi, overseeing sales within the local community. Taki, owner & teacher, holds sweat lodge on his land monthly.
On needing to leave Peru (for an expiring visa) I headed for Central Argentina & a Permaculture project run by an off-grid couple, who keep horses, hens, dogs, cats. They make delicious in-house chocolates At Shamballa & process approximately 100 varieties of heritage seed which they ensure as viable through annual cultivation in 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 & we tended the land. Gladys, the hen in the picture below, had skin cancer, we treated her with herbal preparations & specific diet work.
During these travels I learnt many things and was received with warmth & welcome wherever I went.
There is a deep grateful for the personal opportunity of these years of travel & study. Gratitude for the physical opportunity, the drive to go, & to all those whom I met & worked with. I continue to draw great support & 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.
Irridology weekend with Julie Bruton-Seal, & a day at hers exploring the herbal Lymes protocol of Stephen Harrod Buhner with Hilary Holden, now retired.
Gemotherapy workshop with Cathy Skipper.
I sit in Sweat-lodge whenever possible, & 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, & fully insured as a Holistic Massage practitioner with the Jackie Hamilton School of Massage in Norwich, 2019. Not currently practicing massage.