Saturday, 15 August 2009

Herbal Medicine Conference in Lampeter and Herbal Medicine Regulation in the UK

In this post:
1. The programme for a fascinating conference, Western Herbal Medicine: Ancient Heritage and Modern Practice, due to take place in Lampeter, Wales later this month. I gather there should still be some space left (I hope). I'd love for it to be a success so that such events might be put on more regularly (and then maybe I can go too sometime).

2. Public consultation on alternative medicine regulation in the UK was recently announced. I can't stress just how important it is that we all educate ourselves as to the pros and cons of this kind of healthcare regulation and then make our views heard before it's too late, please have a look at the bottom of this post for a variety of resources and thoughts on this matter.

Western Herbal Medicine:

Ancient Heritage and Modern Practice

August 25th to 29th 2009

University of Wales, Lampeter

This three-day conference will explore various aspects of Western Herbal Medicine from Ancient times, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to modern discussions and the dialogues with Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine. The main focus will be upon the Western tradition of constitutional and energetic medicine. This often-neglected, but rich and vital tradition will be explored from various angles. In addition to scholarly presentations by experts in the field, there will be workshops, exhibitions, and an optional trip to the National Botanic Garden of Wales. There will also be plenty of social and networking opportunities, as well as a closing Twmpath, or Ceilidh. The event is largely aimed at medical herbalists, but practitioners and academics from other disciplines would also be very welcome.

This joint event has been developed by the Body Programme of the University of Wales, Lampeter, in conjunction with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). The University, with its long-established reputation for research in these areas, is now committed to developing academically-informed, humanities-based CPD events for a range of CAM practitioners in careful liaison with professional bodies such as NIHM. Body Programme also supports post-graduate work up to doctoral level (PhD). Its flourishing Master’s programme, The Body: Eastern and Western Perspectives, features related modules such as: Ancient Medicine, The Subtle Body, The Holistic Approach to Healing, The Western Esoteric Tradition, Medical Astrology, Ayurveda, and The Understanding of the Body in Traditional Chinese Medicine (see:

The fee for the whole event, including full-board for four nights, is just £240; excellent value, we hope you'll agree. The University offers good-quality en-suite accommodation, as well as a restaurant and a cafĂ©. It is the smallest University college in Europe, with a small and friendly campus in the heart of the rural market-town of Lampeter. The town itself is set in the beautiful countryside of West Wales, only fifteen minutes from either the coast or the depths of the hills.

Provisional Programme Outline

The final timetable, with further details of our speakers and events, will be available on the NIMH website nearer the time (

Tuesday 25th August

  • From 4pm - arrivals, registration and afternoon tea.
  • 7pm Dinner and Reception

Wednesday 26th August

  • 8.00 Breakfast
  • 9.30 Paracelsus and the Western Herbal Tradition by Dr Clare Goodrick-Clarke and Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (Centre for Esotericism, University of Exeter)
  • 11.30 Herbs and Hippocrates by Dr David Noy (Department of Classics, Lampeter)
  • 1.00 Lunch
  • 2.00 Demonstration of Distillation of Aromatic Herbs given by Joe Nasr (Dip Phyt, DO, MNIMH)
  • 3.30 Break
  • 4.00 Workshop on Traditional Welsh Herbal Medicine (to be confirmed)
  • 6.00 Dinner
  • 7.30 The Galenic Temperaments in the Writings of Nicholas Culpeper by Graeme Tobyn (Author of Culpeper's Medicine)

Thursday 27th August

  • 8.00 Breakfast
  • 9.30 Ancient Cosmology and Medical Astrology given by Dr Nick Campion (Sophia Centre, Lampeter University), and Jane Ridder-Patrick (Lampeter University & NIMH).
  • 11.00 Break
  • 11.30 Optional trip to National Botanic Garden of Wales including lunch and guided tour, taking in the the Apothecaries Garden, the Mediterranean Glass-house, and the Apothecaries Gallery. There will be a buffet lunch in our own dedicated marquee. There is a small supplement to cover travel, entrance, and tour fee (please see booking form).
  • For those not wishing to visit the gardens, there will be alternative Lampeter-based activities, or participants may wish to take free time and make independent visits to the hills and coast. There are many local gardens, organic farms and herb growers whom you might also wish to visit.
  • 6.00 Dinner
  • 7.30 Herbs and Medicine in Medieval Wales, Dr Morfydd Owen (Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth). Introduced by the President of the University, Dr Brinley Jones

Friday 28th August

  • 8.00 Breakfast
  • 9.30 Herbalism in the Ayurvedic Tradition, Anne McIntyre (FNIMH, Ayur HC)
  • 11.00 Break
  • 11.30 A Comparison of the Principles and Practices of Chinese & Western Medical Herbalism, Michael McIntyre (FNIMH, MBAcC, FRCHM).
  • 1.00 Lunch
  • 2.00 Holism in the Western Tradition by Vicki Pitman (M.Phil, MURHP, MIFA)
  • 3.30 Break
  • 4.00 Panel Discussion on Modern & Comparative Herbalism
  • Dinner
  • Twmpath (Ceilidh) featuring local Welsh musicians

Saturday 29th August

  • Breakfast
  • Open Day from 10.30 till 4pm featuring stalls, exhibitions, presentations, and workshops
  • Regional Meeting of Welsh NIMH Herbalists at 11am in University

Exhibitions and bookstalls will be on display throughout the week. This will include an exhibition of exquisite ancient herbals, dating back as far as the fifteenth century, from the University’s collections.

I have an extensive price list with details for full board and single day attendance and everything in between. It's too long to include here so if you're interested I can forward it to you. Please e-mail me at

Public consultation on alternative medicine regulation:

Consultation on the regulation of acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine was launched on the 3rd of August. Please visit the Department of Health press release for an explanation of the aims of the consultation process.

Meanwhile, I strongly urge everybody to partake in the process and make your views and needs known. The issue is a complex one which has divided the opinions of many of the herbalists I know. In my opinion regulation, as it is currently proposed, would have a disasterously negative impact on freedom of healthcare choices and access to herbal remedies at almost all levels. I have a variety of reasons for believing this, but I am still in the process of understanding the implications of the proposed legislation myself so prefer not to make any grand claims at this point without evidence. I am however happy to share my understanding and discuss the issues if anybody would like to contact me on the matter at I hope to say more on the issue here in later posts.

Alternatively, you may wish to visit this Public Consultation on Complementary Therapies discussion thread on the Herb Society website where herbalists and members of the public have begun debating the issue. Feel free to post questions or comments. The friendly people on the forum almost always respond thoughtfully and in great depth. It's a good opportunity to understand how the legislation will affect people at different levels.

Finally, to participate in the consultation itself please visit this Department of Health page. There are several downloadable PDF files full of information and the consultation document itself can be found at the bottom of the page. I am personally not convinced by many of the very leading questions and so aim to consider the document carefully before formulating and sending my own response. I think it would be interesting and useful to discuss what might be the most appropriate and coherent responses to some of the questions either here or on the Herb Society thread mentioned above.

It would also be interesting to know the views of a broad range of people (here and abroad) on this matter so I look forward to hearing from you personally or on the Herb Society forum.