Since childhood herbs and natural medicine have been a significant and poignant part of my life. From hedgerow to health, my childhood was punctuated by regular herb collection outings with my father and three sisters in the Highlands of Scotland where my family lived. Dare I say, we were lured out by a quarter of a snicker bar each at the time – I think we developed a good eye for accuracy over that! One of my earliest recollections is making Coltsfoot syrup out of the honey-smelling yellow flowers in a barrel next to the Aga which was subsequently pressed out and used to alleviate coughs. Looking back, those days spent gathering herbs now hold a special place although at the time more than a little coercion was required: being boot-deep in a bog collecting bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata), extremely useful for rheumatic and muscular pain, is not your average family outing. But I wouldn’t change a thing now, reaching high collecting Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) or on our knees picking Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), my favourite herb for hayfever – it all led to a profound appreciation of nature.
These experiences plus a deep interest in science and the natural world led me to follow in my father’s footsteps, some 20 years later, to gain an honours degree of Bachelor of Science in Herbal Medicine, incredibly, under the same school principle as my father, Brian Lamb. This made me the UK’s only second generation herbalist. My father made a u-turn in his career from an electrical engineer to a student of botanical medicine at 40 years of age after himself being cured of a troubling skin condition after consulting with a herbalist in London where other medical routes hadn’t been able to help. But his design skills continued to serve him as he developed superior extraction techniques for the herbs which are still being used today in products such as Thyme Syrup.
With a family history of doctors dating back nearly 200 years and a childhood where medicinal plants were first-line medicine, perhaps it is not surprising that I followed in my father’s footsteps. I now have over 15 years of working experience in botanical medicine plus a life time of first hand experience observing the power of herbs for a wide range of health complaints and I am more keen than ever to get the word out there that herbs have a powerfully protective, preventative and restorative role in health and disease.