Do you live in west London?
Yes, in Maida Vale.
What is your favourite thing about the area?
It feels like the countryside, so green and peaceful, and yet it’s only a 15-minute ride into central London so it’s perfect for any lifestyle.
Describe your perfect day in west London… any favourite haunts?
The things I do day-to-day in west London are pretty simple – meeting for coffee with a friend, going to a local authentic restaurant or having a massage (at Cloud Twelve of course!) I love doing things off the beaten track like going for a walk along the canals of Little Venice or buying flowers and herbs for my garden from Clifton Nurseries, which is an absolute gem. One of my favourite restaurants in the area is L’Aventure in St John’s Wood. It’s so authentic even the menus are in French!
Tell us about your career as a herbalist. What got you so interested in plants?
Shortly after I moved to London, I was trying to help my father overcome a critical health condition with the help of natural medicine. I started by taking a short course in nutrition and herbal medicine. At some point during my herbal studies, there was a revelation about the healing power of plants (and food in general) that gave me goosebumps and from that moment I knew that this was going to be my future career. I thought about how vital this knowledge was for people’s quality of life and felt I needed to go deeper into it and spread this knowledge beyond my friends and family. So I signed up to do a diploma course in Herbal Medicine at CNM, and as soon as I graduated I quit my job in finance to launch my wellness club, Cloud Twelve.
What’s the most common misconception people have about herbs and herbalism?
First of all, not many people know what a herbalist does. A herbalist utilises active ingredients from all parts of medicinal plants – the leaves, flowers, bark, berries, roots, seeds, to create healing therapies in the form of powders, creams, oils and alcohol extracts. Using a range of ingredients, these are carefully tailored to individual needs.
They may also not know that herbs are very potent as they absorb vital nutrients from the soil and, in processing and storing them, provide phytochemicals which are recognised as food, making them easily digested and absorbed by the body. This allows them to strike the perfect balance between being effective and gentle, with a low risk of side effects. It is often the case that the more gentle the herb is the more powerful it is (examples being adaptogens Siberian ginseng, astragalus, etc.)
Some people may also think that herbal medicine is not supported by research. This is not true, there are a lot of papers in research databases on most herbs. But for a herbalist, just like any naturopath, the focus is always on the individual and the cause of the condition, not just the symptom. So for the same condition, such as migraine, 10 different patients may get 10 different formulations because the causes may range from poor gut function, excess toxicity or stress to broader deregulation of the nervous system. Once the practitioner looks at a cause of the problem, the recovery is usually more meaningful, especially when it comes to chronic conditions.
What role do you think that alternative health care such as herbalism plays at this specific time in history?
It plays the most crucial role because first of all there are no preventative drugs, only preventative herbs, supplements, breathing and mindfulness techniques – all of which can boost our immune systems. People do not get sick because they get exposed to a virus. Viruses and bacteria are everywhere, inside of us and outside. People get sick because their immune system is unable to prevent the virus from spreading, so the immune system heavily relies on or diet, herbs, correct breathing and the state of the nervous system (fear and stress being most damaging).
Additionally, as viruses mutate, it is very difficult to develop a drug that can eradicate it and antibiotics that were often prescribed for Covid-19 are of course helpless against the virus itself, but deal with ‘what if’ scenarios, in the meantime weakening our microbiome which is full of beneficial bacteria that help us fight pathogens.
Herbs act differently, rather than attacking bacteria or viruses directly; they increase the activity of white blood cells, key ‘warriors’ of our immune system, which know the best form of ‘attack’. In this way, herbs are non-specific which sometimes makes them more effective.
I do not underestimate the effect of antibiotics which save lives, I just believe that in our society they are overprescribed. Finally, herbs also play a crucial role in post-viral recovery. Again there are no equivalent pharmaceutical drugs for post-virus fatigue, while adaptogens do an excellent job at restoring energy, boosting immunity and improving vitality in general.
You’ve just launched “Herbal House”, what’s your intention with the project? Who is it for?
I launched Herbal House to help people achieve their various wellness goals with the help of herbs and really feel their regenerative power to see how much calmer, happier and more balanced they can be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be kind to people as everyone is fighting a fight that you know nothing about.
And the worst?
The older you are the harder it is to realise your dreams.
If you could share one holistic wellbeing tip with our readers what would it be?
There are no magic pills or shortcuts in wellness. Whether you are taking pharmaceutical medication, supplements or herbs, to truly get better you need to review and make changes to your diet, lifestyle and other factors that affect wellbeing (such as sleep, hygiene, correct breathing or mindfulness). A wellness journey takes time and effort but the end result is always worth it.