In 2016 I graduated from Pacific Rim College with a Diploma of Phytotherapy. This program is the most comprehensive of its type in North America, and our training is extensive. The program allowed me to build relationships with the plants, gaining an intimate knowledge of this ancient medicine whilst concurrently studying bio-medical sciences (western pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology etc…) in order to get a full understanding of the human body’s disease and healing processes.
My training also includes:
- Integrated physical examinations, including: blood pressure, rapid urine tests, neurological, orthopedic and physical exams (including respiratory, cardiovascular and abdominal)
- Reading and interpreting blood work and other laboratory test results
- Over 500 hours of clinical experience
As a young girl, I had a strong sense of what was just and unjust (like so many of us do). I saw that the world was an unfair place, and struggled to understand why so little was being done to redress the balance between privilege and deprivation. I remember lying in bed at the age of around 6 in my comfortable home in Devon, England, and thinking about the Red Cross TV fund-raisers, where I had seen other young children my age with no clean water, no food. I promised myself when I was a ‘grown up’ that I would use my skills to help, heal and serve, in order to make the world a better place.
I understood early on that my calling was to be in service to those in need, and to speak for those who couldn’t be heard.
Throughout my life I have stood strong to my childhood ideals. At 16, during my college years, I joined the nonprofit organization ‘People and Planet’, and began fundraising and campaigning on issues of human rights, fair-trade and the environment. At university I studied for a BA (hons) in International Relations and Journalism, where I learned the skills to be able to voice injustice.
During my time at university I volunteered with Bristol Refugee Rights, a large refugee center, that dealt with both the basic and complex needs of newcomers. I was fascinated by the cross cultural perspectives, overjoyed to lend my ear to those that needed to tell their story, and thrived in a role where I felt real human connection. I felt at home working with the refugee community, and understood there was a special connection from my own lineage of Jewish refugees.
After graduating, I began reporting on the occupation of Western Sahara, a topic that is ignored by the mainstream media, and violates the rights of hundreds of thousands of people who have been left, forgotten, living as refugees for over 40 years in the Algerian desert. 6 years later, I am still writing on the topic, and having spent time in the region and done extensive research, I am more of an advocate for the freedom of the Sahrawi people than ever.
After gaining this life experience, my views on injustice began to widen. I saw that privilege and deprivation was not just served in terms of money, but also in terms of love, opportunity, community, and physical and mental health.
In 2011, I moved to a small rural island in Canada, where I had time to reflect. I spent time in the forest and learned the healing power of nature. As a young girl I had a strong connection with plants that was lost somewhere in the school-system. Now my interest was reigniting; I found myself allured by texts on plant medicine, and eventually ended up taking classes with an elder herbalist on the island. I felt compelled to pursue the journey, and enrolled to study botanical medicine full time.
I am now a practitioner of botanical medicine, with an interest in mental health therapeutics: I work with a wide range of emotional imbalances, including grief, trauma, addiction, and their physically related symptoms.
Empowerment is the common link in my work, and I believe it to be a key part of the healing process. In my botanical practice, I work with a model that I believe to be empowering to the patient. In my writing, I work with a model that is empowering to the subject.
Looking to the future I hope to continue to write, practice botanical medicine, work with refugees and expand into educational roles, as my passion for these subjects drives me to teach others. I speak from my heart when I say I will keep fulfilling the promise I made to my younger self to help, heal and serve, in order to make the world a better place.
“To serve you only need a heart full of gold and a soul generated by love” – Martin Luther King
My areas of interest
We so often hear now, both in popular culture and from our health practitioners, that stress and disease are linked. And so focusing on dealing with our stress seems a good place to start. But stress is such a broad and subjective term; the way it manifests for you is completely different from the next person. Being told to ‘deal with our stress’ because it is at the ‘root of our illness’ leaves us with few clues of how exactly to achieve this daunting task.
In my botanical practice I put an emphasis on listening carefully to my patients’ experience of the world, what is hard and what makes them flourish. In the smallest of details, I try to gain perspective on what it feels like to be them in the world, rather than just using labels like ‘stress’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’, which I find to be of limited use. I aim to meet the patient where they are at, rather than imposing preconceived ideas of what it means to be healthy. Based on this, I use plants to offer medicines that affect mood, emotions and experience.
Because our emotional and physical well-being are so deeply intertwined, introducing the plants at this level enables the body to harness its natural healing process. New research in the field of pyschoneuroimmunolgy shows that our immune system and nervous system are linked to our psychology, something that has long been known in traditional medicine.
This is not to say that all disease has an emotional root, and in all my sessions I ensure I am checking in on both the physical and emotional levels. However, harnessing mind-body medicine, in my experience, can be beneficial to almost every condition.
My work has several influences. I draw upon Rogerian psychotherapy practices (person centered counseling), as well as traditional herbalism, ayurvedic medicine and a range of meditation techniques. Most of my training has been under Sean Donahue, who has taught me the special relationship we humans can have with plants. I blend these influences with my biomedical knowledge and understanding of psychneuroimmunology to treat body and mind as a whole.