A medical herbalist?
I liked the sound of that… what was a medical herbalist? I was about to find out… I had always held a reverence for the natural world around me and an inclination towards healing in its many forms.
Herbalist Amy Dadachanji foraging for hawthorn berries
When I was living abroad in the late nineties and early noughties, working on organic farms and smallholdings while doing part-time massage therapy, I encountered a naturopath who inspired me to train as a medical herbalist. I loved the way she practised and I saw myself being able to do the same kind of practice with herbs.
It is the immense healing power of plants that are on our very doorsteps that I am truly interested in and the way in which we can utilise these powerful plants in our everyday lives.
Education and Training
Herbalist Amy Dadachanji finding Cat’s Claw in Costa Rica
I decided to train in London which involved 4 years of amazing knowledge-gathering on the Herbal Medicine BSc (Hons) degree course at the University of Westminster. In London I gained a first class degree, a wealth of knowledge and a heap of wisdom from my mentors such as the ever-inspiring Christopher Hedley. I was also awarded the Hugh Mitchell Prize for Materia Medica by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) (2007) and the University of Westminster Botany Prize (2007).
I left the UK to live alongside a herbalist in Ecuador and try and learn as much as I could there. I then moved to India for some months where I deepened my knowledge of Ayurveda and how herbal medicine is used within this system of healing.
Finally I relocated to Gloucestershire as a herbalist and began practising herbal medicine from a couple of local clinics and also from home. When my son was born in September 2009 I carried on practising from home and doing home visits. My daughter was born in April 2011 along with the beginnings of my new place of practice. In Frampton Court’s beautiful walled garden my little clinic sits in a little cabin within a lovely space for courses and workshops at the Pan-Global Plants nursery HQ run by the brilliant plantsman Nick Macer.
Some years ago I found out I had a chronic illness. I’ve written a blog post on it which you can find here. This illness has determined a path of my life’s journey and without my knowledge of herbs and nutrition I fear I might not be where I am today. I see the power of plant medicine and have utilised it where orthodox medicine failed me. The whole experience served to deepen my understanding of both chronic illness and herbal medicine and allowed me to approach treatment of others in a much deeper way.
Herbal Medicine is for everybody, literally – it is the oldest form of medicine used by every people on the planet through history.
Herbs are powerful and the knowledge of how to use plants as medicine has passed through history, each generation learning more about the plants. Some have been made into drugs – think artemisin (Artemisia annua – sweet annie), aspirin (Filipendula ulmaria – was spiraea – hence the name – meadowsweet) and taxol (Taxus brevifolia – the yew tree).
So what do we see in clinic?
Well, herbalists treat the whole person rather than just a symptom. What does that mean? Basically it means whatever your condition, there is most likely something that can be done. I, and other herbalists, work with people rather than just with the symptoms that make up the ailment. That said, sometimes we do simply treat the illness as an acute treatment – say if you’ve got a cold. However, if you’re getting lots of colds, we’ll look deeper into the cause, into what’s going on for you on various levels. Might you be exhausted, eating foods that don’t agree with you, stressed, emotional, suffering with an allergy etc.?.. We look at it all.
In clinic I’ll see patients present with anything from eczema, anxiety or depression to autism, epilepsy, arthritis or heart disease. I’ve made a list of what I generally see in clinic but this is not exhaustive by any means:
Allergies such as hayfever, dust mites, foods etc.
Arthritis and rheumatism
Children’s ailments from conjunctivitis and nappy rash to ADHD and so-called children’s diseases
Chronic conditions such as ME, chronic Lyme, post-viral symptoms, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia etc.
Cystitis and urinary disorders
Depression, anxiety and panic attacks
Disorders that are more common to the elderly
Gastro-intestinal conditions, for example, IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, dysbiosis, diverticulitis etc.
Heart and circulatory conditions such as angina, varicose veins or Raynaud’s
Men’s health conditions such as BPH and impotence
Migraines and headaches
Post-operative or post-accident support
Respiratory conditions such as asthma or bronchitis
Skin disorders such as acne, eczema or psoriasis
Stress-related disorders and emotional disturbances or issues that might be conceived as mental health issues
Women’s health conditions such as endometriosis, PMS, menopausal symptoms or PCOS
Professional Body and Continuing Professional Development
I am a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists who are committed to thorough scientific research in the field of herbal medicine while being vigilant of the origins and essence of using plants to heal.
I am fully insured to practise and undertake continuing professional development in the form of professional herbal, medical and nutritional courses.