About The Mansfield Herbalist
It’s been quite a journey from starting my nursing training in the early 1980s, to becoming a qualified medical herbalist 25 years later.
The start of my journey
I started training as a general nurse in 1983, when nurse training was a bit like an apprenticeship. I didn’t go to university and we started working on the wards almost straight away.
I had little interest in mental health at the time and, like many of my fellow students, felt quite afraid of mental illness. However, once I started my mental health placement, I absolutely loved it and I quickly realised that our mental health and physical health can’t be separated. Mind and body are linked, and we still have so much to learn about that connection and how it can affect us.
Mental health background
Having qualified as a general nurse, I went on to train as a psychiatric nurse. I thought that I would be able to nurse people in an holistic manner, caring for mind and body at the same time. I believed all nurses should be trained in both disciplines.
I was working in the area of motherhood and mental health (perinatal mental health) when I had my own young children. Around this time, I came to understand that there were causes of illness that involved emotional processes as well as genetics, microorganisms or bad luck. This led to me researching different systems of maintaining health and treating illness, such as nutrition.
Working with health professionals
When I was in my late thirties, I started to see a local herbalist about skin issues. She helped me to understand that my emotions were affecting my physical health. She did not simply treat the skin, she gave me herbs to help with my emotional confusion and distress. She also helped me evaluate my diet, and we made some beneficial changes.
I was working as a senior primary care nurse at our local out of hours GP service. This was a job that came with huge responsibility but I loved it because I was able to use all my nursing and communication skills. On the telephone to a distressed patient, or a mum with a sick child in the middle of the night, there is a necessity to develop a rapport and trusting relationship very quickly, often within minutes. I found that not only was I enjoying my role, I was pretty good at it, prompting me to stay in this job for many years. I learnt so much about the presentation of illness and the functioning of our NHS and social care services.
Finding a holistic approach
So, as a result of hearing hundreds of people’s stories at work, my belief in holistic health became stronger. I didn’t have a degree and realised that, in order to progress in my career, I would need one. I wanted to study nutrition, but there were no degree level courses that would be accessible to me with two youngish children. I was very excited when I discovered the Herbal Medicine degree at Lincoln University and I made an important decision to start studying academically for the first time age 40.
At University, it felt like Pandora’s box had been opened and absolutely could not be closed. We learnt about health and disease from various viewpoints, and studied psychology, pathophysiology, nutrition and research alongside botany, chemistry and the medicinal actions of herbs. We worked in a herbal medicine clinic at the university for over 500 hours over three years. This involved taking consultations, learning physical examination skills, recognising signs of serious illness and writing herbal prescriptions.
I met a huge variety of people from different backgrounds who had different ideas on health and wellness and who also had vastly differing world views.
I also discovered that I loved to study, and I achieved a first-class degree.
I was privileged to be appointed as a lecturer on the herbal medicine degree in 2011, and I taught on the course until 2022. I supervised the public herbal medicine clinic once a week, and I taught clinical diagnostic skills, various aspects of orthodox medicine, professional ethics and mental health. I learnt something new from the students and my colleagues every day.
While I was teaching I also studied for a Masters degree in Mission and graduated from Cliff College in November 2022.
Starting my own practice
I started in herbal practice soon after I qualified but also carried on working as a nurse. I found this tough because I knew I could help some people using herbal medicine, and an holistic approach. I work to broaden options and often herbal medicine can be used to supplement conventional medicine, or sometimes it can be an alternative, depending on the circumstances.
I worked throughout the pandemic protections as a key worker, teaching and consulting remotely for nearly 18 months before going back into college in September 2021. During that time I made the decision to leave teaching and return to nursing in view of the crisis situation in the NHS and I now work as a mental health nurse in primary care alongside a small herbal medicine practice.
As a herbalist I offer holistic care integrating nutrition, emotional support and medicinal herbs along with helpful lifestyle changes to support people experiencing menopause and common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
I am an active member of NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists), volunteering with various herbal related projects and I give talks to community groups on subjects such as menopause awareness and the relationship between plants and conventional medications. I hope to extend this to teaching health professionals about the benefits of herbal medicine.
Having completed further study in menopause, I am a member of the British Menopause Society.
About Eleanor Devereux
I have lived in Mansfield with my family for over 30 years. We have a rehomed sprocker spaniel and we love walking in the local countryside.
We’ve always enjoyed traveling and recently we’ve been touring the UK in our old camper van with the spaniel.
We have an allotment and spend as much time there as possible when the weather allows. We grow a mixture of vegetable, herbs and flowers.
I attend a local church and I’m one of the women’s ministry leaders.
The Lotus Therapy Centre at The Limes, 54 Nottingham Rd, Mansfield, Notts, NG18 1BN