Case study

Medical herbalist — Karin Mallion

Karin studied for a BSc in Herbal Medicine at the University of Lincoln. She now works as a medical herbalist for The Original Alternative

How did you get into herbalism?

Previously I was a full time foster carer specialising in children with severe behavioural problems. My grandmother and great grandmother used herbs prolifically as I grew up and I used herbal teas for some of the children that I looked after. While training in hypnotherapy to help the children I fostered I met a lady who was training as a medical herbalist. I commenced my training to become a medical herbalist that same year.

How did you get your job?

I ran my own health food shop for four years and my own herbal medicine practice for three years. I noticed a surge of interest in CBD oil and explored the career options surrounding this field. I worked alongside The Original Alternative for a year and was then offered the opportunity to work for them full time. I passed my practice onto another herbalist and sold my health food store and moved to Guernsey to take up my current role.

What's a typical day like as a medical herbalist?

My job involves running a health shop and herbal practice in Guernsey. I arrive at the shop, check my emails and online orders for click and collect products, which I then prepare ready for the customer collection slots.

The shop is open to the general public and I have consultations with patients in the afternoon. Patients come with aches and pains, hormonal and menopausal issues, skin complaints, anxiety and stress to give a general idea of some of the health issues I help to treat. I am often a last resort; so many people arrive with chronic complaints. I create bespoke medicines to suit their individual needs.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I particularly enjoy seeing the results of my remedies and treatments. Witnessing a patient's happiness and interacting with customers brings me great pleasure.

What are the challenges?

Time or the lack of it is an issue. I often find that there are not enough hours in the day.

How has your role developed?

When I began my career as a medical herbalist I ran a small, rural practice. I now work in a prestigious practice with national interest. In the future I want to continue to help people, alleviate their suffering and raise awareness of how herbal medicine can have a positive effect on people.

How do I become a medical herbalist?

  • Complete a degree in herbal medicine. They're a worthwhile investment. Courses usually take three years to complete full time or six years part time.
  • Consult a professional, qualified herbalist. They'll be able to offer you advice and may even be in a position to offer you a period of work experience or shadowing.

Find out more