Hanging out with Kiwi herbalists.

May 29, 2016 Herbalists 0 Comments

The two-day conference & AGM of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists (NZAMH) was a chance to reconnect with old friend and meet new ones.

Isla Burgess, Guido Mase, Valmai Becker, Sue Evans, Asti Renaut

Isla Burgess, Guido Mase, Valmai Becker, me, Asti Renaut (MC)

Guido inspired us all with two presentations – one a discussion of the role of herbal medicine in mental health, and the other encouraging us to make our own blends of bitters. Isla took us on a journey to central Otago, and the way she is using the local plants, and encouraged us, with very practical suggestions, to get to know the plants around us.
Valmai gave a very personal account of her relationship with the plants she grows, and the ways in which she has encouraged some to adapt to the New Zealand climate. Her adventures growing and wild harvesting kept us all laughing with her.


group of people sitting on carpeted floor, discussing taste and appearance of dried herbs

looking, tasting, describing herbs

My presentations were two workshops – one on organoleptic assessment of medicinal plants, encouraging participants to develop a language around describing the tastes and smells of herbs, and the second encouraging herbalists as researchers.

But as usual the gold of any conference is in the sharing that occurs in the breaks, at meal times, and the incidental conversations.
One of the traditions of Kiwi conferences which I particularly enjoy is the Monday excursion. After the intensity of the conference presentations and the inevitable politicking of the AGM, it is good to just be with colleagues around our mutual interest – medicinal plants.

Group of herbalists standing around a plant, discussing

Herbalists are the same everywhere – walking among the herbs, discussing how they grow, sharing how they use them.

This time it was to Valmai’s place near Little River, where we wandered around her herb garden – these photos could be taken anywhere that herbalists gather and chat about plants.
We also chopped burdock root in preparation for burdock vinega. Herbal vinegars are very popular in NZ, and they seem to be particularly useful for those who want to avoid using alcohol in their herbal preparations.

Peeling burdock root

Peeling burdock root

Chopping burdock root

Chopping burdock root

Chopped burdock root, to be covered with apple cider vinegar

Chopped burdock root, to be covered with apple cider vinegar

Thanks to the NZAMH for their generous invitation and hospitality – it was wonderful to see you all again.