Blog Oct 14th 2012


Posted on October 14, 2012

I attended the first of this season’s West Sussex History of Medicine Society’s lectures. As usual it was superb, but on this occasion I was invited to offer the Vote of Thanks to the first speaker, an honour which I accepted.

The committee who runs this society are particularly amiable and have, I feel, gone out of their way to be generous to me. I have a feeling they are pleased to have in their midst a living breathing Medical Herbalist who perfectly connects the current orthodox form of medicine with the ancient ways that we all know, in our water, were powerful, good and ancestrally wise. These are thoroughly experienced medical practitioners and consultants, experts in their fields, and know just what will fascinate and inform the people who attend their fortnightly meetings.

Yesterday the two speakers complemented each other perfectly, the first being Mark Nesbitt PhD FLS from Kew on Botany and Empire – the Materia Medica of the 19th Century, and the second, Dr Sedgwick, on The History of Tonsillectomy – Henry Cline and Sir Astley Cooper at St Thomas’ Hospital. Both presentations were highly informative, and very entertaining! Dr Segdwick has a special interest in all matters Ear Nose and Throat, and continues to train current GPs in this field, using great humour and wit to hold his audiences in wrapt attention. Mark Nesbitt, on the other hand, has taken on the vast and probably insurmountable task of Curator of Research into the Economic Botany Collection, Ethnobotany, Taxonomy of Useful Plants and Seed Morphology at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

 Mark Nesbitt’s role could actually be a task for a team of 50 researchers! One would need the combined brains of at least that number to be able to identify, accurately name, assess, catalogue, appropriately rearrange and store the information within the ultra-rich seam of material now brought together and housed at Kew. This job is not for the fainthearted! The collection contains hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of items of relevance drawn from many centuries of painstaking gatherings and garnering of men and women botanists, herbalists and physicians the world over. I thank Mark for his intellect, dedication and persistence in the service of my beloved Herbal Medicine.

Lunch was at The George and Dragon in North Street Chichester, and was surprisingly good. Thank you Prof Richardson for organising us all and seating us so thoughtfully. The service was excellent, the company superb and I went away replete at every level..