About Us

In April 2016, The NIMH Education Fund launched a new educational initiative, under the name Heartwood, with the aim of producing a suite of blended learning courses and programmes as part of its mission to promote excellence in Herbal Medicine education.

The project is led by Nic Rowley, MA, MRCS, PGCE (former Dean of Studies at the School of Herbal Medicine), and managed by Paul Hambly, MNIMH (Chair of the Fund), with Hananja Brice-Ytsma, MSc, MNIMH, as Clinical Director and Adrian McDermott, BSc, as Learning Systems Developer.

The NIMH Education Fund (registered charity number 262584)

In April 1971, Fred Fletcher Hyde, George Smith, Nalda Gosling, Albert Priest, Arthur Jenner and Albert Orbell set up the National Institute of Medical Herbalists Limited Education Fund “to establish the training and tuition of students of medical herbalism giving both lectures in theoretical aspects and demonstrations in practical training.” In pursuit of these charitable objectives, the fund makes grants to organisations and educational establishments, sponsors research, and supports the provision of practice and education facilities throughout the United Kingdom.

In line with its charitable status, all income derived from the operation of Heartwood in excess of course production costs will be used by the Education Fund to support new initiatives that benefit Herbal Medicine as a whole. Whilst it believes that Heartwood can make a significant contribution to national and international education in Herbal Medicine, it does not seek to attract potential students away from other institutions offering professional training, but rather to share knowledge and resources wherever possible.

The course development team


Dee Atkinson, MNIMH, qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 1988 and ran Napiers the Herbalists shops and clinics from 1990 to 2012. She currently runs D. Atkinson, Herbalist which provides a wide range of health care treatments and practitioners. Dee is a Council Member for the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and has represented the herbal profession in the Department of Health consultation into registration of herbal practitioners. Dee is currently on the UK Herbal Forum working on UK and European legislation regarding the sale of herbal products. She has been voted by Tatler magazine as one of the top 250 UK private doctors in both 2006 and 2007.


Bendle, MNIMH, has over 25 years of experience as a Medical Herbalist, and for most of his professional life has worked in an NHS setting alongside conventional medical practitioners. He has been a clinic supervisor and lecturer on the Herbal Medicine BSc course in Lincoln, and was a regular guest lecturer on the degree course at The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine. He also teaches on a number of post-graduate level courses, and has a particular interest in understanding the links between emotional and physical health that play a vitally important role in healing and recovery. He likes to grow and to collect plants to make his own herbal tinctures.

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Mary Bove, ND, AHG, obtained her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Midwifery Certification from Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, WA, and received her Diploma of Phytotherapy/HerbalMedicine at the School of Phytotherapy in Great Britain. Dr. Bove practiced Naturopathic Family Medicine and Midwifery at the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic, Brattleboro, VT. for 24 years, specializing in Naturopathic Pediatrics. Once a full-time faculty member at Bastyr University, Mary chaired the departments of Botanical Medicine and Naturopathic Midwifery. She is the author of the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants, considered an authoritative reference on natural pediatric medicine. Mary also co-authored Herbs for Women’s Health and has been published in many magazines, journals and collaborative books on botanical and natural medicine. She lectures and teaches internationally on the topics of naturopathic medicine, botanical medicine, pediatrics, natural pregnancy, childbirth, traditional food medicine and mind-body healing. She is currently Medical Educator for Gaia Herbs Brevard, NC.


Hananja Brice-Ytsma MNIMH, MSc, DipEd, has practiced herbal medicine extensively both in the UK and in Switzerland, working in private practice, in clinics and in hospitals for over 20 years. She qualified as a Naturopath in 1982 and then as a Medical Herbalist in 1990. In 1995, Hananja helped pioneer Britain’s first BSc degree in Herbal Medicine in partnership with Middlesex University, where she practiced at the Middlesex University training clinic. Hananja's practice marries science with tradition, using the knowledge gained from new research to enhance the established traditions of herbal medicine, including the crucial importance of nutrition to health. She has lectured widely throughout the UK for her specialist experience in gynaecology and paediatrics, and sees a large number of patients with gynaecological problems referred to her by GPs and hospital consultants. Hananja has contributed to the BBC series and accompanying books 'Grow your own drugs', and co-edited the book 'Herbal Exchanges'.


Chanchal Cabrera, MSc, FNIMH, (RH)AHG, has been a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) since 1987 and was awarded Fellowship 2009. She gained an MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003 and has been Faculty Chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster since 2004. She is also a Certified Master Gardener, Certified Horticulture Therapist, and holds Diplomas in Botanic Garden Management and Botanic Garden Education from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Chanchal lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she and her husband run Innisfree Farm and Botanic Garden, a 7-acre registered botanic garden specializing in food and medicine plants, and host internships in organic farming and herbal medicine. They also host Gardens without Borders, a federally registered not-for-profit society established to run therapy garden programs for people with disabilities.

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Tony Carter, FNIMH attended the School of Herbal Medicine in Tunbridge Wells, graduating in 1985. In that year he founded the Herbal Apothecary which set new high standards in the preparation of herbal medicines for the practitioner, pioneering the now commonplace 1:3 tincture. There followed a stint in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he started the Tree House Centre for Integrative Medicine, managing up to 38 practitioners. Upon his return to the UK, he partnered with Steve Hughes in opening Proline Botanicals, which was the first practitioner orientated company to earn its Manufacturing License through the MHRA (GMP). He is co-founder of the Botanical Extract Company Ltd, and currently manages Plant Medica, an innovative co-operative producing herbal medicines, and was Treasurer of the NIMH from 2005 to 2012.


Dílis Clare, BSc, MB, BCh, DRCOG trained in medicine at University College Dublin Medical School, and in Herbal Medicine at Middlesex University. She is a leading authority on Herbal Medicine in Europe, and has worked in full time Collaborative Medical Care since 1999, integrating the best of both pharmaceutical and herbal medicine. She is Honorary Clinical Fellow at the University College Medical School, Galway.

Nicole Freris, MB, BChir, MRCP, MRCGP, is a GP working in a busy inner London practice, addressing chronic health problems through dietary and lifestyle interventions. She has been through the rigors of mainstream medicine, graduating from Cambridge and becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians and General Practitioners. She took 10 years out of her GP training, to work on health projects in the Brasilian Amazon, where she also worked as a researcher for Greenpeace and trained in Permaculture design. Returning to the UK she became immersed in the Permaculture network, organising and teaching design courses. She took the degree in medical herbalism at the Middlesex University and went on to teach herbal students clinical skills. More recently she has worked with some powerful plant healers and guides. She has come to knowing that disease is deeply rooted in the disconnection with our purpose and with the unfathomable web of life that we are an expression of. It is this understanding that holds in meaning and helps her navigate the array of insights offered by science.

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Frances Hambly, MNIMH, qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 1987 from the School of Herbal Medicine, and has been a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) since then. She went on to study Aromatic Medicine with Dr Daniel Penoel, and incorporates the use of essential oils in her practice. Nutrition is a fundamental part of Frances’ work, and she also offers food intolerance and allergy testing at her practice in Wadhurst, East Sussex. She gives prenatal advice on conception and offers pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care. In addition to her commitments as a practitioner, Frances mentors newly qualified herbalists, gives talks on a variety of subjects related to Herbal Medicine, and is the author of Herbal Medicine for Children.


Kirsten Hartvig, ND MRN MNIMH DipPhyt, is a registered naturopath and a medical herbalist specialising in the use of food as medicine, and in utilizing the healing properties found in the medicinal herbs that surround us, in food stores, gardens, fields, hedgerows, wildernesses, mountains and forests. She trained at the School of Herbal Medicine in Kent from 1986 to 1990 where she gained her Diploma in Phytotherapy and Membership of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). She continued her training at the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in London and gained her Naturopathic Diploma and membership of the General Council and Register of Naturopathy (GCRN), where she is now President. She is also a member of the Danish Health Authority's Council for Alternative Medicine (SRAB). Kirsten started the European Journal of Herbal Medicine together with Hein Zeylstra and Colin Nicholls. She has taught nutrition and dietetics at the European School of Osteopathy, and has been in private practice in England, France and Denmark since 1992. For 10 years she ran a health retreat in the French Pyrenees. Kirsten is the author of 15 books on natural health, herbal medicine and naturopathic nutrition, the latest being Healing Berries and Healing Spices published in 2016 by Watkins (London). She also leads local herb walks, and gives lectures and workshops on the healing power of plants.


Anita Ralph, MSc, MNIMH, MCPP, began full-time training to become a medical herbalist in 1987, graduating as a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in 1991. She completed an MSc in herbal medicine in 2006. Realising there was a need to bridge the gap between people unfamiliar with professional herbal medicine and herbalists themselves, she was inspired by Dee Atkinson’s Napiers practice to open her own herbal dispensary in 1997. Since 2006, she has treated patients at the Integrated Gynaecology Clinic with consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician Anne Henderson. This innovative clinic has provided much needed help for women with complex pelvic pain and associated gynaecological problems. Anita is a member of the College of Practitioners of Herbal Medicine, and has been a guest lecturer for the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine’s BSc and MSc courses. She also runs regular informal courses, walks and workshops.


Mary Tassell, MSc, MNIMH, commenced training to become a medical herbalist in 1996. On graduating she became a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in 2000, subsequently taking over editorship of their in-house magazine for a number of years. Her professional career has also included teaching at both Western Herbal Medicine training clinics and for the Northern College of Acupuncture, where she taught Anatomy and Physiology and herb/drug interactions. She strongly believes that medicine should not be a ‘one size fits all’ discipline and actively encourages and enables her patients to adopt strategies to improve their own health wherever possible. Mary completed an MSc in Western Herbal Medicine in 2006, and currently practices as a consultant Medical Herbalist in Bridport. She also runs a variety of informal courses, walks and workshops in the area.

The project management team:

 Chairman, NIMH Education Fund

Paul Hambly, MNIMH, MBAC, qualified as a Medical Herbalist in 1988 and became a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) that year. In 1995, he became a member of the British Acupuncture Council after completing a three year training at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (CICM) in Reading. Paul has been on the post-graduate training board and the policy committee of the NIMH, and has taught orthodox clinical skills at CICM. In 2002 he helped produce the Code of Good Practice for Herbal Dispensaries for the NIMH. As well as being an official mentor to newly-qualified herbalists for the NIMH, Paul has also been an examiner for the final clinical exams in Herbal Medicine at Middlesex University. He has served on the NIMH council, and has been on the Education Fund board of trustees since 2008. He works full time at Hamblys clinic, using both acupuncture and herbal medicine, and is co-author with Frances Hambly of the book “Herbalism”, a guide to using herbal medicines for the lay person. He also owns and runs a smallholding in East Sussex.

Project Leader


Nic Rowley, MA, PGCE, MRCS, LRCP, BAc, trained in medicine at Cambridge University and the Royal Free Hospital, and has practised as an holistic doctor in the UK, France and Denmark. He is a past Dean of Studies at the School of Herbal medicine and past vice-principal of the European School of Osteopathy, and author of 'Hands On, a Manual of Clinical Skills' and also of 'Basic Clinical Science' (both originally published by Hodder and Stoughton). Nic is an experienced teacher and lecturer, and holds a PGCE from the Institute of Education in the University of London. He has given workshops and seminars at Diploma, Higher Diploma, Degree and Master’s levels for The University of Surrey, The University of Chichester, and many colleges of alternative and complementary medicine, and has also been a consultant to a wide range of institutions on course development and degree validation at Bachelor and Masters level. He has comprehensive experience of curriculum design, and of representing institutions at successful validation events (with the Universities of Surrey, Wales, Glasgow, Middlesex, Greenwich and Chichester). He also served for some years as an assessor for the University of Wales' external degree validation panel, and was involved in validation events for a variety of UK and European institutions. He has written a number of self-help health books, and has contributed articles to various journals in the UK and Denmark.

Learning Systems Developer

Adrian McDermott, BSc, DipPhyt, studied Human Sciences at UCL, and qualified as a medical herbalist in 1993. During the next 10 years, he built up a herbal medicine practice in East London, took over the editorship of the European Journal of Herbal Medicine and worked for four years as a Clinical Supervisor at the Archway training clinic (providing training for herbal medicine students on the Middlesex University Herbal Medicine BSc course). His interest in the creative possibilities of the internet began in the 1990s, since which time has has trained as a qualified Java programmer and a database administrator, and worked extensively as a professional website consultant and copy editor. Since moving to Switzerland in 2003, Adrian has been a teacher of Biology, Latin, and for a time ICT for years 10-12. He set up his school's Moodle site in 2008 in order to offer more interactive resources for students, and has been its administrator since that time. Over the past few years he implemented a number of Moodle installations for other educational institutions, configuring them to fit and extend their educational offerings.