When she planted Borage in her first herb garden at the age of 15 , Christine Best “had no idea what to use it for”.
Little did she realize it was the seed for her career as a Medical Herbalist.
Christine now runs a busy practice from her home at Killflynn in North Kerry, surrounded by her extensive herb garden.
Despite a life long interest in plants and herbs, Christine began her working career as a librarian in her native Sussex.
She moved to Co Kerry with her husband and two young sons in 1989 to give her children the kind of freedom she herself had as a child growing up.
The family fell instantly in love with the house at Killflynn. “We bought it without even looking inside. It felt right”, she explains.
It fitted their needs for a place in the countryside with land around it to grow their own vegetables and herbs.
Four weeks after moving in, Christine gave birth to her daughter in a home-birth.
As her children grew older, the busy mother, felt she wanted to do something for herself.
“I had a large collection of books – all in order because of my librarian training. As I looked as all the different subjects I saw there was a huge number of books about herbs and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’”.
She applied for a course at the School of Herbal Medicine in Sussex just a few miles from where she originally went to school.
Initially she enrolled for a 12 month introductory course which would allow her use herbs with friends and family but by the end of the course she knew she “wouldn’t be satisified without learning more”.
Christine took a foundation course in chemistry and biology followed by four years of professional training, which involved regular trips to London.
She graduated in 2002 and by the end of that year was setting up her new Herbal Medicine practice in Killflynn.
“The biggest challenge was letting people know what I did and what I could do. Considering herbalism is the oldest form of medicine, nobody knew what it was. It was really a case of getting the message out there”.
She decided to “take a stall at Milltown farmers market where I sold dried herbs and a few tinctures. It was an opportunity to talk to people and I’m still going there because its such a lovely market.”
Christine holds regular workshops teaching people how to use healing herbs at home and make simple herbal creams and tinctures.
She also runs herbal walks through her garden at Killflynn and once a year has a big open day during Heritage week.
Christine points out that herbs can be used for all types of ailment. They are brilliant for coughs, colds and flu, both treatment and prevention. You can use them to keep your immune system up or treat infections when its down.
“Herbal medicine can also be used for more chronic conditions. I have treated people with cancers, auto-immune conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, osteo-arthritis, digestive problems. I see quite a lot of women with menopause, fertility and menstrual issues.”
She stresses the benefits of science in training. “All medicine should be an art and a science. The science element is important. You need to know anatomy, physiology and pathology. You need to understand different classes of medical drugs, how they might interact and if it is safe.”
She describes her career as life-long learning. “There is always something to learn. I don’t think you ever stop if you are passionate about your subject”.
Christine can be contacted on her Mobile 086-1939217 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her website is: www.kerryherbalist.com
Her latest workshop on “Herbs for Hayfever and more” is being held at the All Therapy Centre in Rock Street, Tralee on April 1st 2016 from 7.30pm- 9.30pm.
The fee of €20 includes all ingredients, samples and tasters. Please book in advance through phone call or email.