Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
Natalia Kerkham is a medical herbalist and registered nutritional therapist based at Cheshire Natural Health in Warrington, Cheshire.
Natalia works with patients with a wide variety of chronic conditions, and has a special interest in migraine. She adopts a patient-centred approach, with a strong emphasis on understanding what each patient wants and needs from their treatment.
‘The combination of herbal medicine and nutrition is a powerful one,’ she says. ‘I use herbal medicines to target specific symptoms, such as arthritic pain, IBS, a skin problem or insomnia – patients are often surprised by how quickly they see results. Nutritional therapy, on the other hand, works quietly in the background to build and then maintain energy and resilience, and prevent future problems before they ever arise.’ Scroll down to read more about herbal medicine and nutritional therapy.
Some of the chemicals that plants produce for their own purposes also benefit human health. The bright pigments in fruit and vegetables can help to maintain a healthy circulation: bright red hawthorn berries are a tonic for the heart, while deep purple-blue bilberries have been used traditionally to keep the eyes healthy. The harsh tasting tannins that plants use to deter animals from eating their bark and leaves can also staunch bleeding – oak bark is particularly valued. It is the particular combination of tens or even hundreds of these beneficial compounds that gives each herb its unique healing powers. As a professional herbalist, Natalia uses a wide range of herbs to create mixtures tailored to the needs of each patient, taking into account their particular symptoms and designed to work safely along side any conventional medicines they may be taking.
Nutritional therapy is where science meets the dinner plate. What we eat, day in day out, has a huge influence on our health and, unlike our genetic make up, it’s something we can control. There are two branches to nutritional therapy. Dietary therapy, as its name suggests, involves making gradual, carefully phased changes to the diet to ensure that it supports your long term health rather than undermining it. Nutritional supplements, on the other hand, are useful for addressing underlying imbalances, and, when needed, can supply larger amounts of specific nutrients than can be obtained from diet alone.
No two people have exactly the same needs The aim of nutritional therapy is to help you find a diet that you can enjoy while it supports your health, with supplements if needed to supply any nutrients that are difficult to obtain from food alone.
Natalia gained her BSc in Herbal Medicine in 2003, and completed her MSc in Nutritional Therapy in 2015. As one of only a handful of practitioners in the UK trained in both herbal medicine and nutritional therapy, Natalia combines herbal medicines, nutritional supplements and dietary advice to meet her patients’ needs.
Originally an NHS finance manager, Natalia changed career after one of her children had herbal treatment for recurring ear infections. “After months of emergency GP appointments and broken nights, we had a healthy child again, and life returned to normal,” she says. “I wanted to make that kind of difference for other people.”
Natalia has a special interest in migraine. Her interest was originally personal – she has migraine herself, as do both her children. She completed her Masters degree in Nutritional Therapy with a research project on diet and migraine, and continues to research both herbal and nutritional approaches to migraine. She has contributed articles on nutrition to Challenging Migraine, the newsletter for migraine sufferers of the charity Migraine Action, and has given talks to groups of both patients and health professionals.
She is a lecturer in Herbal Medicine at the College of Naturopathic Nutrition in Manchester, and regularly gives general interest talks on herbs and healthy eating to clubs and societies.
Natalia is a member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy, and the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy.