About Heartwood

About Heartwood

In April 2016, The National Insitute of Medical Herbalists Education Fund, at the instigation of Paul Hambly, MNIMH (Chair of the Fund) launched a new educational initiative, under the name Heartwood and led by Dr. Nic Rowley, with the aim of producing a suite of blended learning courses and programmes as part of its mission to promote excellence in herbal medicine education.

The project is currently managed, under the guidance of the Education Fund, by Guy Waddell, PhD as Director of Studies, Hananja Brice-Ytsma, MSc, MNIMH, as Clinical Director and Adrian McDermott, BSc, as Head of Operations.

The management team:

General Manager


Lisa Smith is recognised as a passionate business manager with many year’s experience managing large teams across multiple sites in the healthcare sector and, as a registered manager for the Care Quality Commission.  Lisa has a proven track record in maximising service development opportunities and has extensive experience in all aspects of management. Lisa has created and developed various strategies since joining Heartwood in 2018 including financial reporting and management and student liaison.

Director of Studies


Guy Waddell, PhD, BSc(Hons), BA(Hons), fHEA, MNIMH. It was the stories that Guy heard from herbalist Christopher Hedley in the early 1990s that drew him into herbal medicine and eventually into teaching and research. Guy gained a diploma before completing a degree in herbal medicine at the University of Westminster, graduating with first class honours. Also at the University of Westminster, Guy undertook doctoral research combining his interests in narrative and in herbal medicine, arguing that herbalists’ relationships with plants and herbal medicines help to sustain them in their work and allow diverse influences to be brought into practices. Guy taught herbal medicine at the University of Westminster between 2011 and 2019 where he was awarded a fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and was a member of several research groups. He was a lecturer, clinic supervisor and module leader, with a particular interest in materia medica, therapeutics and pharmacy, teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, until joining Heartwood in September 2019. In his clinical practice he works with patients to find solutions to chronic and complex health conditions using an approach that is always as simple and personalized as possible. He has learnt much from his students and patients. Guy has authored ‘The Enchantment of Western herbal medicine: herbalists, plants and nonhuman agency’ (Aeon books, forthcoming). He is also working on an edited collection of the teachings of Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw

Clinical Director


Hananja Brice-Ytsma FNIMH, MSc, DipEd, has practiced herbal medicine extensively both in the UK and in Switzerland, working in private practice, in clinics and in hospitals for over 20 years. She qualified as a Naturopath in 1982 and then as a Medical Herbalist in 1990. In 1995, Hananja helped pioneer Britain’s first BSc degree in Herbal Medicine in partnership with Middlesex University, where she practiced at the Middlesex University training clinic. Hananja's practice marries science with tradition, using the knowledge gained from new research to enhance the established traditions of herbal medicine, including the crucial importance of nutrition to health. She has lectured widely throughout the UK for her specialist experience in gynaecology and paediatrics, and sees a large number of patients with gynaecological problems referred to her by GPs and hospital consultants. Hananja has contributed to the BBC series and accompanying books 'Grow your own drugs', and co-edited the book 'Herbal Exchanges'.

Head of Operations



Adrian McDermott, BSc, DipPhyt, studied Human Sciences at UCL, and qualified as a medical herbalist in 1993. During the next 10 years, he built up a herbal medicine practice in East London, took over the editorship of the European Journal of Herbal Medicine and worked for four years as a Clinical Supervisor at the Archway training clinic (providing training for herbal medicine students on the Middlesex University Herbal Medicine BSc course). His interest in the creative possibilities of the internet began in the 1990s, since which time has has trained as a qualified Java programmer and a database administrator, and worked extensively as a professional website consultant and copy editor. Since moving to Switzerland in 2003, Adrian has been a teacher of Biology, Latin, and for a time ICT for years 10-12. He set up his school's Moodle site in 2008 in order to offer more interactive resources for students, and has been its administrator since that time. Over the past few years he has implemented a number of Moodle installations for other educational institutions, configuring them to fit and extend their educational offerings.


The course management team

Head of Professional Course


Veda West, MSc, BSc, BA, MNIMH, is a medical herbalist, working in multidisciplinary practices in Lancashire. She qualified as a herbalist in 2008, graduating with first class honours, and went on to gain an MSc with distinction in herbal medicine. She is particularly interested in clinical reasoning and has published a paper on this subject. She was awarded the Phyto Products Award by NIMH for her work in pharmacology, in which she analysed the role and mechanisms of phytoestrogens in breast cancer. Veda is an experienced lecturer, has experience working as a learning adviser for HE students, and has worked as a Development Consultant for City and Guilds.  Veda also holds a degree in Fine Art, and remains a passionate painter of portraits and botanical subjects. It is her belief that the practice of herbal medicine draws on both the sciences and the arts.  She is an experienced lecturer, course developer and writer.

Head of Foundation Course


Anita Ralph, MSc, MNIMH, MCPP, began full-time training to become a medical herbalist in 1987, graduating as a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in 1991. She completed an MSc in herbal medicine in 2006. Realising there was a need to bridge the gap between people unfamiliar with professional herbal medicine and herbalists themselves, she opened her own herbal dispensary in 1997. Since 2006, she has treated patients at the Integrated Gynaecology Clinic with consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician Anne Henderson, providing much needed help for women with complex gynaecological problems. Anita is a member of the College of Practitioners of Herbal Medicine, and has lectured at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine’s BSc and MSc courses.

Course Administrator



Nikki Harrison worked in administration and marine underwriting for 12 years for a Lloyd’s Syndicate. For several years she lived in the US, working in veterinary care before returning to the UK and raising a family. She joined Heartwood as Course Administrator in 2018.


The course team


Alison Denham, BSc (Hons), MA, is currently appointed to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC), which advises the MHRA on licensing applications for registration of OTC herbal medicines, proposed changes to the regulation of the prescribing of herbal medicines by herbal practitioners, and pharmacovigilance of licensed and unlicensed herbal medicines.


Alison Morton, BSc (Hons), MSc, NIMH, obtained her MSc at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, and spent several years teaching on the BSc Herbal Medicine course at the University of Lincoln. In the 1970s and 80 she spent 12 years as an operating theatre scrub nurse before re-training as a health visitor in 1987. She worked as a health visitor in Stockport, Congleton and Gwynedd over a 15-year period, during which time she specialised in child protection and child behaviour management work. She spent 4 years on a secondment to the NSPCC and almost two years as the Designated Senior Nurse for child protection in East Cheshire. During this time, she designed and delivered training in safeguarding for a variety of health and other professionals.

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Bendle, MNIMH, has over 25 years of experience as a Medical Herbalist, and for most of his professional life has worked in an NHS setting alongside conventional medical practitioners. He has been a clinic supervisor and lecturer on the Herbal Medicine BSc course in Lincoln, and was a regular guest lecturer on the degree course at The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine. He also teaches on a number of post-graduate level courses, and has a particular interest in understanding the links between emotional and physical health that play a vitally important role in healing and recovery. He likes to grow and to collect plants to make his own herbal tinctures.


Chanchal Cabrera, MSc, FNIMH, (RH)AHG, has been a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) since 1987 and was awarded Fellowship 2009. She gained an MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003 and has been Faculty Chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine since 2004. She is a Certified Master Gardener, and Horticulture Therapist, and holds Diplomas in Botanic Garden Management and Education from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Chanchal and her husband run Innisfree Farm and Botanic Garden, specializing in food and medicinal plants. They also host Gardens without Borders, a registered not-for-profit society that runs therapy garden programs for people with disabilities.


Dedj Leibbrandt, BSc (Hons), Lic Ac, MBAcC, MRCHM, FNIMH. Dedj trained in nursing and  trained for four years in Western Herbal medicine, qualifying in 1992. She then trained in Chinese Herbal Medicine, qualifying in 1997. This 2 year post graduate course concluded with 6 weeks full time clinical practice under supervision in China. In 2006 Dedj undertook a further 4 year BSc (Hons) degree in acupuncture at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine. Dedj is part of the Conventional Medical Science teaching team at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, and is a past Director of Education for the National Institute of Herbal Medicine and a clinical examiner at Middlesex University. In 2013 shej was awarded a Fellowship of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists; “in acknowledgment of her professional attainments and the great services which she has contributed to the science and practice of Medical Herbalism”. Dedj is a qualified Emergency Medical Technician and First Aid trainer and founded a group of qualified and undergraduate herbalists who provide Herbal First Aid and Acute Medical Services at festivals.


Dee Atkinson, MNIMH, qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 1988 and ran Napiers the Herbalists shops and clinics from 1990 to 2012. She currently runs D. Atkinson, Herbalist which provides a wide range of health care treatments and practitioners. Dee is a Council Member for the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and has represented the herbal profession in the Department of Health consultation into registration of herbal practitioners. Dee is currently on the UK Herbal Forum working on UK and European legislation regarding the sale of herbal products. She has been voted by Tatler magazine as one of the top 250 UK private doctors in both 2006 and 2007.


Dílis Clare, BSc, MB, BCh, DRCOG trained in medicine at University College Dublin Medical School, and in Herbal Medicine at Middlesex University. She is a leading authority on Herbal Medicine in Europe, and has worked in full time Collaborative Medical Care since 1999, integrating the best of both pharmaceutical and herbal medicine. She is Honorary Clinical Fellow at the University College Medical School, Galway.


Elle Devereux, BSc (Hons), MNIMH, is a medical herbalist working in a multidisciplinary practice in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.  She graduated from Lincoln University with a degree in Herbal Medicine in 2008. Her background is in the NHS and as a dual-trained nurse she has worked in both general and mental health nursing with experience in out-of-hours urgent care and a variety of community mental health teams. Most recently Elle worked with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) as a specialist practitioner.


Mary Bove, ND, AHG, obtained her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Midwifery Certification from Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, and received her Diploma of Phytotherapy/HerbalMedicine at the School of Phytotherapy in the UK. Dr. Bove practiced Naturopathic Family Medicine and Midwifery at the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic for 24 years, specializing in Naturopathic Pediatrics and was a full-time faculty member at Bastyr University, chairing the departments of Botanical Medicine and Naturopathic Midwifery. She is the author of the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants, and is currently Medical Educator for Gaia Herbs Brevard, NC.


Mary Tassell, MSc, MNIMH, commenced training to become a medical herbalist in 1996. On graduating she became a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in 2000, subsequently taking over editorship of their in-house magazine for a number of years. Her professional career has also included teaching at both Western Herbal Medicine training clinics and for the Northern College of Acupuncture, where she taught Anatomy and Physiology and herb/drug interactions. Mary completed an MSc in Western Herbal Medicine in 2006, and currently practices as a consultant Medical Herbalist in Bridport. She also runs a variety of informal courses, walks and workshops in the area.


Niki Lawrence, MSc, MCPP, is a senior lecturer on the University of Westminster Herbal BSc course, where she has led a range of different herbal teaching modules (BSc and MSc), with her specific interest being Materia Medica and Botany. She also works as a practitioner supervisor in the University's herbal teaching clinic. She previously practised as a nurse in Cape Town and helped manage a farm in the Klein Karoo district of South Africa. On returning to England, she studied herbal medicine at the University of Westminster, before gaining an MSc in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent. She is a Council Member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP).  Her interests include medicinal plant identification; herbarium voucher specimen collection and preparation; organic cultivation and sustainability; and ethnobotanical interview-based research.


Melissa Ronaldson, BSc, MNIMH, qualified with a Bachelor of Science in herbal medicine in 2000 and has been in practice ever since. Her herbal practice has been varied and diverse: she was based for many years at a mental health and arts project in Hackney; she has worked on traditional medicine projects in Ecuador and in Peru; first aid posts at Glastonbury and other festivals – and more recently the refugee camps in Northern France. In 2002, Melissa became a founder member of London Community Herbalists and later went on to project manage the building and integration of a large, award winning, intensive medicinal roof garden for North Haringey Primary school. In 2007, Melissa began the journey to fulfil a dream to create a floating herbal medicine venue that would traverse the London waterways. Stormvogel the Herbal Barge is now an established clinic, teaching space and apothecary.

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Tony Carter, FNIMH attended the School of Herbal Medicine in Tunbridge Wells, graduating in 1985. In that year he founded the Herbal Apothecary which set new high standards in the preparation of herbal medicines for the practitioner, pioneering the now commonplace 1:3 tincture. There followed a stint in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he started the Tree House Centre for Integrative Medicine, managing up to 38 practitioners. Upon his return to the UK, he partnered with Steve Hughes in opening Proline Botanicals, which was the first practitioner orientated company to earn its Manufacturing License through the MHRA (GMP). He is co-founder of the Botanical Extract Company Ltd, and currently manages Plant Medica, an innovative co-operative producing herbal medicines.

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Bee McGovern, BSc (Hons), MNIMH, has had a lifelong love of plants and developed an interest in food and nutrition as a teenager.  She grew up in South Africa and her first BSc was in Botany and Zoology from Stellenbosch University.  Her calling to work in natural healthcare came after spending a number years working in business.  She qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 2006 and established her practice in London before moving to rural Shropshire where she lives on a 2 acre smallholding.  Bee grows many medicinal plants and makes as much of her own medicine as she can – she believes the vitality of fresh plant tinctures and the quality of small batch medicine making are hard to beat, along with the benefits in terms of sustainability.

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Sue Bottomley, NIMH, studied herbal medicine at the School of Herbal Medicine in East Sussex and has practiced as a Herbalist in Sheffield since 1994. She works from a multi-disciplinary clinic, sharing a well-stocked dispensary with two other herbalists. She has taught pharmacology to Herbal Medicine students for ten  years, and is currently a member of a small team that delivers a module on Complementary and Alternative Medicine to final year medical students at the University of Sheffield. Her background as a pharmacist informs her interest in using herbs safely alongside conventional medicines, as well as on their own.  

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Caroline Butler, BSc, NIMH studied herbal medicine at the University of East London, and has been a practicing herbalist in her home town of Bridport ever since.  She loves growing herbs and gathering them from her local area to make her own preparations, and she is interested in the ways people can incorporate herbs into their daily lives to maintain health.  She enjoys holding workshops and teaching people how to make their own home remedies and believes that herbal medicine should be accessible to everyone.

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Delphine Sayre, Dip Phyt, NIMH, graduated from the School of Herbal Medicine in 1989 and has been a practising herbalist in Sheffield ever since. In 1997 she completed a 3 year training as a psychotherapist to enhance her working style, and has been part of a supervision group since then. She runs her private practice from The Lodge House in Sheffield, and shares the space with a range of therapists. Her other main area of work is for a charity called Cavendish Cancer Care which supports patients, carers and families affected by cancer and which offers a range of complementary therapies free of charge. Dee has run WEA courses on herbal medicine for about 20 years and she has been a guest teacher for the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, amongst others. 

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Pieter Meiring, BSc, qualified as a Medical Herbalist from Westminster University. Working from his home-based practice in Watford, he treats clients with a range of conditions including BPH, menopause, osteoarthritis and auto-immune conditions. He is passionate about creating the best quality herbal medicines from seed to tincture, cream or distillate and grows many herbs in his garden and allotment. Pieter has won awards for achievement and innovation in herbal medicine and botanical pharmacy, and has featured in a number of publications promoting herbal medicine and growing medicinal plants.

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Victoria Kearns, BSc, qualified as a Medical Herbalist from Westminster University. She supports clients with a range of issues affecting the digestive, endocrine and reproductive systems, in particular IBS, IBD, endometriosis, PCOS, pelvic pain and fertility. She teaches and supervises Herbal Medicine students at the Westminster University Polyclinic and practices in London and from her clinic in Watford where she also grows herbs for her clients. Victoria holds post-graduate qualifications in clinical massage and is currently completing her studies towards becoming a Psychosexual Counsellor.

The NIMH Education Fund (registered charity number 262584)

In April 1971, Fred Fletcher Hyde, George Smith, Nalda Gosling, Albert Priest, Arthur Jenner and Albert Orbell set up the National Institute of Medical Herbalists Limited Education Fund “to establish the training and tuition of students of medical herbalism giving both lectures in theoretical aspects and demonstrations in practical training.” In pursuit of these charitable objectives, the fund makes grants to organisations and educational establishments, sponsors research, and supports the provision of practice and education facilities throughout the United Kingdom.

In line with its charitable status, all income derived from the operation of Heartwood in excess of course production costs will be used by the Education Fund to support new initiatives that benefit Herbal Medicine as a whole. Whilst it believes that Heartwood can make a significant contribution to national and international education in Herbal Medicine, it does not seek to attract potential students away from other institutions offering professional training, but rather to share knowledge and resources wherever possible.

Chairman, NIMH Education Fund



Paul Hambly, FNIMH, MBAC, qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 1988 and became a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) that year. In 1995, he became a member of the British Acupuncture Council after completing a three year training at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (CICM) in Reading. Paul has been on the post-graduate training board and the policy committee of the NIMH, and has taught orthodox clinical skills at CICM. In 2002 he helped produce the Code of Good Practice for Herbal Dispensaries for the NIMH. As well as being an official mentor to newly-qualified herbalists for the NIMH, Paul has also been an examiner for the final clinical exams in Herbal Medicine at Middlesex University. He has served on the NIMH council, and has been on the Education Fund board of trustees since 2008. He works full time at Hamblys clinic, using both acupuncture and herbal medicine, and is co-author with Frances Hambly of the book “Herbalism”, a guide to using herbal medicines for the lay person. He also owns and runs a smallholding in East Sussex.


EXTERNAL EXAMINERS: Julie Whitehouse, Gillian Leddy

Visit our online clinic

Heartwood Professional Course in Herbal Medicine

Online Student Clinic

Originally conceived to provide quality clinical training for our final year students during the Covid-19 restrictions, Heartwood Education are now able to offer appointments in our online student clinic to all.

Consultations are taken by final year students, but each session and all treatment is overseen throughout by an experienced qualified herbalist.

Consultations take place via a secure video call (rather like Zoom or Skype), and access to the consultation is restricted to Heartwood students, Heartwood herbalists and you. You will only see the supervising herbalist and the student practitioner involved in taking your case, and it is very helpful if you also use your webcam so that they can see you too.

To book, or find out more, visit https://10to8.com/book/heartwoodonline/

Accessing your online clinic sessions

On the day of your appointment, you will be emailed a secure private link to the online session 10-15 minutes before your appointment time to enable you to access the online Clinic room. We find that Chrome or Firefox web browsers work best - Safari and Internet Explorer don’t seem to work very well, and sometimes not at all.

The consultation part of your appointment takes up to an hour and a half, and you will be asked to return to the clinic session again - approximately two hours after the end of your appointment - for the clinical student and the supervising herbalist to explain your treatment plan, and to organise how you will receive your herbal medicines.

If you live outside of the UK, the supervising herbalist will explain how you can obtain the required herbal medicines locally.


The initial consultation fee is £30 and follow up appointments are £15. Any medicines prescribed are dispensed by the professional herbalist overseeing your consultation. The cost of medicines is usually between £5 and £25 per week, with an average of about £12 per week (excluding postage and packing). A course of treatment usually lasts between 6 and 12 weeks. The practitioner will always seek to reduce the cost of medicines in cases of financial hardship. Medicines will be posted to you directly, and payments can be made online.