I walked across the stage to receive my yearned for certificate with the knowledge this could be illegal in three months time. For six years I had studied and trained, scraping together the money to pay for it all. I gave up my weekends to attend the training clinics. I gave up my evenings to read, to study, to write assignments. And it affected not just me. My family gave up weekends and holidays together. My husband supported me at every step of the way, taking our children out day after day so I could write essays or revise for exams. And here they all were, in London, at the presentation ceremony to witness my oath and affirmation of herbal practice, and to celebrate that I had finally qualified as a medical herbalist and was being admitted to the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. But in the background a European directive about to be implemented in the UK would remove a huge raft of herbal medicines from public access, rendering them illegal. How can a herbalist help people if they cannot give them herbal medicines? The legislators hadn’t realised what they were doing or the impact it would have. But we would not go down without a fight. That was 1994. October. Suffice to say after a good deal of campaigning in a very short space of time, the UK government found a solution. The thousands of people I have helped since then is testament to the resilience of herbalists and to the public who supported us in that fight and meant that we could go on helping people by using the medicines that have helped people the world over for thousands of years.
Here’s why this is important. Qualifying as a herbalist and becoming a member of the NIMH was a huge achievement and the fulfilment of my dream to work in medicine but that’s a different story. Every day hundreds of people consult herbalists like me. Lobbying the government ensured that people could continue to choose their healthcare and access the medicines they get from their herbalists. History is peppered with times like this when herbalists had to fight for the right just to treat people. Most of those people don’t know what the herbal profession has had to go through just to be able to provide them with the expert care they get, and that doesn’t really matter. Your herbalist has come through lengthy training, personal sacrifices and even political struggle, but what’s important is they will be sitting there with you just focussed solely on you and your health and helping you get well. If you’re ready to try it, give me a call and we’ll see if herbal medicine can help you be well.