Who got that job?

January 12, 2007

Lisa Nelson, clinical training practitioner in herbal medicine, University of East London. Job advertised : The Times Higher, June 30, 2006

The World Health Organization estimates that Britons spend £437 million a year on alternative medicines and that more than 50 per cent of Europeans have used alternative medicines at least once.

But although herbal medicine is the most widely practised form of medicine in the world, there are just six places in Britain where it is studied.

At the University of East London, Lisa Nelson has been clinical training practitioner in herbal medicine since September 2006. "Herbal medicine takes a holistic approach to illness, treating the whole person individually and not just addressing their symptoms," she said.

Medical herbalists have to study anatomy, physiology and pathology and to complete more than 500 hours of clinical training to qualify.

"We teach the importance of using the best of each medicine - herbal or mainstream Western," Ms Nelson said. "It is important for students to know not only about herbal medicine but also the latest research discoveries.

There are limitations by law on what can be treated. We can't treat epilepsy or diabetes. But we do have treatments for conditions such as skin disorders or arthritis where GPs don't have so many options available."

Ms Nelson worked in finance before completing a BSc in herbal medicine at Middlesex University. She then split her time between teaching and working as a herbalist and sports therapist. "What attracted me to this job was the mix of students and patients," she said.

"It has always been my passion to teach the next generation of herbalists,"

she added.

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