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Apprenticeship. These people and others have been my inspiration and guides, both in my life and in my practice, which I fi rest established in 1982. On a historical note, Ezra Suggest, a herbal apothecary in Eccles, Suffolk, was my great-great-grandfather. He inspired me through the wonderful tales of his work that were told to me as a child by my grandmother. His dispensary and clinic was similar to many of its kind in the mid nineteenth century.

His material medical would have included at least 40 percent herbs imported from America, such as slippery elm, goldenseal, and sarsaparilla, with the other 60 percent coming from Europe, mostly from Britain, and a few from Asia. Many would have been collected locally (by knowledgeable gatherers), and many remedies would have included these local plants — for instance, sea holly root from the beaches, or fennel, burdock, and plantain from the hedges and meadows.

His clientele would have visited his dispensary and bought herbs after a quick chat or lengthier consultation, or alternatively he would have made a house call on his horse, carrying a saddlebag large enough to hold his traveling medicine bag and poisons box (which I still have baby and removed the diaper pin, which was pricking the baby’s tummy! He then rode twelve miles home again.


The large building that once housed his thriving business is now a bank, but his love and use of herbs live on. It is believed that when the apothecaries came under fi re from the medical profession, Suggest joined the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, which was founded to safeguard their profession. To this date it is one of the largest and oldest herbal associations in Britain.

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