» my training and professional development
My initial training was at The School of Herbal Medicine at Herstmonceux, East Sussex. At the time (1988) it was the only full time course in Western Herbal Medicine in the world. The four year course was followed by a two year mentored, probationary period, and I have been in private practice from that time. The course included all the familiar areas of orthodox medical science that doctors study, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, clinical diagnosis and pharmacology as well as herbal pharmacology, and prescribing. Following graduation in 1992 I was invited to join the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. I have run clinics in Hastings, Bexhill and Chichester, and my current clinic at Rosemary Cottage has been in operation since 2002.
My professional body, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, was the first to be established, back in 1864. It is not only the leading professional organisation for practicing Medical Herbalists, requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of conduct and ethics, but it also ensures that all members take the Hippocratic Oath. I am also an associate member of the British Society for Ecological Medicine and have full professional indemnity and public liability insurance with Balens.
In order to provide my patients with a proper service I make studying and learning more a major priority for my practice. I make sure I am continually updating my clinical and diagnostic skills – for example, I recently undertook a three day training with an NHS Phlebotomy Service in West London so that I can now offer a one-stop-shop to patient when a blood test is needed. Hitherto they had to seek out a phlebotomist, as they often found that their GP practice would not help them. I am proud to say that, to date, all those who have had a blood test at my hands have stated that I am the best phlebotimist they have experienced as not only do I take blood painlessly, but no one has yet gone home with multiple puncture sites or a bruise.
I also regularly attend conferences, talks, seminars and workshops in order to maintain the level of expertise and clinical skills that patients deserve. The image above shows me at one of the lectures for GPs run at the Chichester Medical Education Centre at St Richard’s Hospital, which I attended every week for four years, in the process of which I got to know many of the local Consultants and Specialists, as well as a great many of the GPs in my area.
High quality medical conferences are held throughout the year and many of these are focused on the areas of medicine that our NHS find so hard to resolve. Chronic, ongoing conditions such as thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s, neurodegenerative conditions such as the various forms of dementia, and developmental conditions that fall within the autism spectrum, and autoimmune disorders which are effecting more and more people all require a great deal more time and specialism than GPs are able to provide. The standard approach to these, and many other conditions may be woefully inadequate for the patients, who can suffer for years with insufficiently thought through treatments, or worse. I attend conferences run by experts in their field, in order to save my patients from the same unnecessary failures.
There are also now some first class online webinars in which specific subjects are discussed by people working on new or expanding areas of research. Areas such as effective and safe removal of toxic metals like aluminium, mercury or cadmium from people who have struggled for years with unexplained symptoms. Or Lyme disease and the rise in this poorly grasped issue of vector borne diseases, which are also frequently mis-diagnosed. Experts in the field of microbes, epigenetic, nutrition, functional medicine, the microbiome, specific disease entities, new and better tests for old adversaries, or new therapeutic strategies are now available through these international online conferences, as well as venue based events, and I am fortunate to have made contact with many leaders in these fields of research, from whom I continue to expand my knowledge, whether in Herbal Medicine, nutritional medicine or biochemistry and physiology. I take all the opportunities I can to upgrade my knowledge in order to truly enable recovery in my patients, many of whom have been struggling for far too long with mysterious or unexplained problems that we can now confidently say can be tackled.
Below is a list of some recent CPD events:
- Thyroid disease, new research, testing parameters and better treatment
- Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and neurodegeneration: new research and successful treatment
- Lyme Disease and associated vector borne diseases: spread, new tests and treatments
Good clinical skills are all about observation, and observation is massively helped with the right kit. We are not talking MRI scanners here, but hands-on, front-line equipment that let me look and listen to the body more effectively. That’s some of my stuff laid out on my desk.
Stethoscope: this quintessential piece of medical kit is invaluable, not only for listening to the heart and lungs but also bowels thyroid gland and, occasionally a baby.
Mercury sphygmomanometer: for taking blood pressure the old fashioned way. Personally I prefer it, and trust it, far more than the modern digital ones. It is used in conjunction with the stethoscope, listening for the pulse to become audible (systolic) and fade out (diastolic pressure). With this traditional method I get to listen to the quality of the pulse at the same time – information you miss if all you are looking for is a number on a machine.
Magnifying glasses: essential for checking skin and eyes and mouth. Dermatology is a tricky business, and I am certainly not a specialist, but I have accurately diagnosed many a case of eczema, psoriasis, and all sorts of lesions, as well as correcting previously incorrect diagnoses, and all through careful observation and attention to the full history of the patient.
Otoscope and ophthalmoscope: for looking inside ears and eyes respectively. I can examine the ear canal and ear-drum, the ceiling, floor and sides of the ear canal, and identify and treat many problems, and with the ophthalmoscope observe the fundus, optic disc and retinal vessels of the eye to aid in an understanding of a variety of symptoms and signs a patient might present with.
Dipstix: as a first line aid in identifying a number of conditions urine dipstick are invaluable. A quick pee in a pot in the bathroom next door and in a couple of minutes I can obtain useful and actionable information. I get instant feedback on their urinary glucose, ketones, leukocytes, blood, protein and pH, all of which can be direct or indirect signifiers of pathology or underlying condition. Quick, cheap, reliable and invaluable.