Fancy studying for a new career in herbal medicine? NHS doctor Beth Eaton is doing exactly that, with the help of Health Food & More in Kirkcaldy
If you’re passionate about natural health, a career in herbalism could be for you!
Medical herbalists take a holistic approach to illness – treating the underlying cause of disease and not just the symptoms.
If that sounds like the direction you’d like to take, you’ll need to study for a BSc degree or equivalent in Herbal Medicine, and acquire a minimum of 500 hours’ practical, clinical experience.
As part of your course, you’ll study both orthodox and plant medicine and train in the same diagnostic skills as a GP.
Once you qualify, you’ll be able to prescribe herbal remedies to be used alongside other medication and treatments.
Find out about accredited courses here
Training the medical herbalists of the future
A new teaching clinic at Health Food & More in Kirkcaldy is helping to train the medical herbalists of the future.
The Kingdom Community Herbal Clinic is giving second and third year medical herbalism students the chance to clock up the 500 clinical training hours required to become fully qualified.
As part of their training, the students get to shadow mentor Keren Brynes Maclean MNIMH, who is one of Scotland’s most experienced medical herbalists, with more than 30 years’ natural health expertise.
Working alongside Keren gives them the practical, face-to-face consulting and dispensing experience that’s essential for a career in medical herbalism.
The students are all undertaking professional studies with Heartwood, which is the education and training arm of the NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists) Education Fund, a UK charity specialising in foundation and post-graduate professional development courses in herbal medicine.
They are all mature students, for whom herbal medicine is an addition to their existing medical profession, qualification and skillset.
Keren, who qualified in 1996, believes there’s a real need for more medical herbalists in Scotland and is willing to train the future competition to make that happen.
“There are currently only around 50 NIMH qualified medical herbalists in Scotland,” she says.
“Yet we know from our patients and ongoing research that modern, or allopathic, healthcare doesn’t have all the answers.
“We also know that the drugs don’t always work for every condition or for every person. But medical herbalism can help to bridge that gap between the shortfalls in mainstream medicine and NHS waiting times.
“A lot of patients we see suffer from long-term, chronic or auto-immune conditions, which can benefit from complementary medicine over and above the care they receive from their GP or specialist.
“Simple, natural remedies such as herbal teas, supplements or tinctures can, at the very least, help relieve the symptoms or anxiety associated with certain conditions and help sufferers get a better night’s sleep.
“Some of the issues we see in the clinic include menopause and other hormonal problems; stress, anxiety and panic attacks; IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and other digestive complaints; skin problems; allergies, and just plain being tired all the time.
“We know that NHS services are stretched and GPs often don’t have the time, resources or jurisdiction to take a more holistic view, but that’s where herbal medicine can help.”
And it’s a win, win because the new teaching clinic, which runs two days every month, means that professional, natural health advice is now more accessible to people in Fife.
Each student consultation is offered at a reduced rate – making herbal medicine affordable for people on lower incomes.
The new Kingdom Community Clinic is open to men, women and children of all ages.
To find out more, including dates, visit healthfoodandmore.co.uk
“Conventional healthcare can be very restrictive”
Beth Eaton (pictured) is one of the students training at Kingdom Community Herbal Clinic.
She works as a speciality paediatric doctor within the NHS and has decided to add to her skillset by studying medical herbalism.
Her focus is babies and normal infant development.
“I have recently undergone a major re-evaluation of my purpose in life and feel that my current role doesn’t always allow me to fully meet my patients’ needs,” says Beth.
“Conventional healthcare can be very restrictive and guideline driven and I believe in a more bespoke approach that’s tailored to the individual.
“When I started this journey, I wasn’t sure how herbalism would fit into my career as a doctor. I’m now realising that I’ll be giving up conventional medicine to focus on herbal medicine. My interest will always be in children’s health.
“I’m inspired by how clever nature is at helping to heal itself and by those living in synchrony with nature.
“Modern drugs may have powerful effects but, in adjusting the composition of natural therapies, they introduce many side effects.
“Polypharmacy (the use of multiple medications by a single patient) is a growing issue. Herbs, on the other hand, work synergistically with very few side effects.”
Beth is enjoying her training at Health Food and More – also home to Fife Herbal Dispensary – and says studying herbal medicine even helps her to relax.
“The days I spend observing in the herbal clinic leave me on a major high,” says Beth. “The future of herbal medicine is bright!
“The NHS is not sustainable in the current model. The government is keen for privatisation and it’s likely we’ll have to contribute financially towards our healthcare in the future.
“When people are required to pay, they expect the best possible service tailored to them. Many may find that herbalism and other holistic therapies offer this more readily than conventional medicine.”