The College of Medicine’s Self Care Lead, Simon Mills, first encountered herbalist and acupuncturist Michael McIntyre around 45 years ago as the pair met as practitioners trying to drive forward plant medicine in the UK.
In 2022, the College of Medicine awarded Michael a rare Fellowship to honour his lifetime work devoted to the development of professional herbal medicine.
His extraordinary contribution was cut short by a severe stroke, from which Michael has been making a slow recovery over several years.
In this fascinating conversation, recorded at Michael’s home in rural Gloucestershire, Simon asks him to reflect on the progress of plant medicine in the decades since the 1970s – and where herbalism is in 2023.
He explains how plant medicine could help the NHS, saying: ‘We’re so short of doctors and one of the solutions, in my opinion, is to use what already exists, which is a huge body of knowledge, enthusiasm and interest in plant medicine. There are some very clever people who’ve put their lives into helping other people using it.’
Michael also touches upon the regret he feels that promising initiatives developed in the last 30 years ‘haven’t found a regulatory framework that allows herbal practitioners to work in this country.’
Of the future? He says: ‘We’ve got a big problem with antibiotics but we’ve got a solution potentially using plant medicines – but of course, the research is the big issue and, understandably, all of the research money is going into conventional channels. Getting research money for plant medicine is extremely difficult.’
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