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Traditional Herbal Medicine: Ancient Heritage & Modern Practice (16 - 20 August 2019)


This colourful gathering will be the climax of Lampeter’s ‘Summer of Herbs & Folk’ in which the community and the University have come together in a celebration of traditional folk medicine and traditional folk music.

Community events, talks, herb-walks and demonstrations are spread throughout the Summer. The Town Museum offers a display on local herb lore, including recipes and recollections provided by local people. Antique herbals from the original library dating back to the very foundation of the University almost exactly two hundred years ago, are being displayed in our Founders’ Library - with postcards available of some of their most striking and charming botanical illustrations and frontispieces.

The folk music programme, headlined by Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita and the iconic Martin Carthy, will conclude with the Twmpath and folk music concert on the final evening of the conference featuring local singers, musicians, and dancers.

The conference itself is being presented by the University and its Harmony Institute in conjunction with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, Britain’s oldest professional body of herbal medicine practitioners.

The conference is open to all with a personal or professional interest in herbs, health, and healing. Please come! The more the merrier!

The Conference Programme

The conference is composed of three potentially stand-alone days - particularly important if you have to choose particular days to attend.

A detailed, hour-by-hour timetable will be available on this page nearer to the event.

Friday August 16th

Welcome to Lampeter

Friday afternoon and evening, will be for arrivals and welcomes. There will be a Welcome Desk in the Cloisters of our Saint David’s Building and Dinner will be at 6:45pm.

For those travelling to Lampeter via the M4 - or who have time for a pleasant detour - we have arranged a particular welcome at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales for you to visit their Apothecary’s Garden, the Physicians of Myddfai Collection, and the Apothecary’s Hall: a charming re-creation of an Edwardian pharmacy. The Gardens are about ninety minutes from Lampeter. Further suggestions for Friday activities are very welcome.

Saturday, August 17th

‘The Living History of Western Herbalism’

The first big day of the conference will celebrate the living history of western herbalism. Talks will range from herbal medicine in the Anglo-Saxon world, through Galen’s medicine with its humours and temperaments, to the esoteric tradition with its hermeticism, elements, correspondences, and astrological calculations.

The day will end with a challenging presentation by Dr Graeme Tobyn exploring our relationship, as moderns, to these thousands of years of tradition.

Presentations will include:

  • Dylan Warren Davis on ‘Nicholas Culpepper and the Missing Philosophy of Western Herbalism’
  • Steve Taylor on ‘The Galenic Assessment of Constitutions, Humours, and Temperaments’
  • Val Thomas on ‘Anglo-Saxon Remedies and Modern Practice’
  • Professor Nicholas Campion on Medical Astrology
  • Elisabeth Brooke ‘As Above, So Below: The Key to Traditional Herbal Medical Practice’
  • Alison Denham ‘Dr John Skelton (1805-1880): herbal practitioner, author and lecturer in Victorian Britain’
  • Dr Graeme Tobyn  ‘Ancients versus Moderns in Herbal Medicine: Authority, Evidence, and Effectiveness’

Sunday, August 18th

‘Myddfai: The Spiritual Home of Welsh Herbalism’

The second day will be devoted to the Welsh Herbal Tradition. The conference will be taken up into the hills to the little village of Myddfai, the spiritual home of Welsh herbalism.

Myddfai is also the Welsh home of HRH Prince Charles, the Chancellor of our University. It is said that he chose to make his home there attracted by the legends and associations with traditional herbal medicine. The Physicians of Myddfai were renowned in Wales for many centuries, and legend tells of how the first of their family lineage was given a bag containing all the secrets of medicine by a mysterious, faery Lady who appeared out of the primal lake, Llyn y Fan Fach, at the foot of the dramatic Black Mountain. Some of the more adventurous may want to get up extra early and go up to the lake itself - one hour of hearty walking up; 50 minutes down!- whilst most will go directly to the village.

In the new Visitors’ Centre, recently opened by Prince Charles, we shall be welcomed by Dr R. Brinley Jones C.B.E., the Chairman of the Physicians of Myddfai Society and the President of our University. There will be lunch and a chance to explore this beautiful little village with its extraordinary history. We shall then have presentations by the leading authorities on the Myddfai legends, texts, and tradition, and review the ancient remedies and their present day uses. Then back to Lampeter and - appetites honed by our hearty day out - there will be the Conference Dinner in the evening (nothing too formal, but there will be table service and so forth).

Presentations will include:

  • Dr Brinley Jones Welcome and Introduction
  • Dylan Warren Davis on the Lives and Legends of the Physicians of Myddfai
  • Dr Diana Luft on the Medical Texts of the Myddfai Tradition
  • Rosemary Westlake on Myddfai remedies in current practice for respiratory conditions

Monday, August 19th

‘West meets East and the Future of Traditional Herbal Medicine’

The third day will explore the future of Western Herbal Medicine and its relation to the ancient traditions of India and China.

The first morning session will concern the philosophy and principles of Ayurvedic herbalism and the following presentations will take us deep into the world of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

In the afternoon, with talks, discussion groups, and panels, we will explore the challenges facing all traditional medicine and the future of herbal medicine in the modern world.

The day will end, after dinner, with our traditional ‘Physicians’ Twmpath’: a traditional Welsh Ceilidh and concert featuring local folk musicians and dancers. Should be jolly! For these festivities, we shall be joined by members of the broader community and proceeds from the event will go towards Lampeter’s National Eisteddfod Fund. This will be a fairly casual affair with no regimented seating, compulsory dancing or deafening music - just pleasant entertainment and plenty of space to chat with folks and swap contact details as the conference draws to a close.

Presentations will include:

  • Anne McIntyre on the Principles of Ayurvedic Herbalism
  • Charles Buck ’Chinese Medical Herbalism: Insights into a Great Medical Tradition’
  • Abbot Wang Chengya on Yao Shan (Medicine Diet): the Traditional Daoist Art of adding health-giving herbs to food to promote health and to treat imbalances. The Abbot kindly offers optional workshops on Daoist medicine in the afternoon.
  • Dafydd Monks on ‘Yr hen doctor mynydd’, The old doctor of the mountain: David Thomas Jones, Wales’ forgotten herbalist.
  • A Plenary Session with many of our speakers.

Tuesday 20th August


Speakers and Presenters

We are still adding to our programme; however, our confirmed speakers so far include (in alphabetical order):

Elisabeth Brooke practises and teaches in London and around the world. She is also a Psychosynthesis counsellor and medical astrologer. Elisabeth is the author of Traditional Western Herbal Medicine:

  • As Above So Below
  • Traditional European Medical Practice
  • A Woman’s Book of Herbs
  • Herbal Therapy for Women
  • Women Healers through History

Charles Buck is a Fellow of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine; Fellow, and former Chairman, of the British Acupuncture Council. He is Reader in Chinese Medicine, Northern College of Acupuncture, York, and author of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: The Roots of Modern Practice.

Professor Nicholas Campion is the Director of the Harmony Institute of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Nick’s many publications include Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions, and his important, two-volume History of Western Astrology.

Alison Denham was formerly Senior Lecturer in the University of Central Lancashire. Alison is the author of many key academic articles and books including, with Graeme Tobyn and Margaret Whitelegg, of The Western Herbal Tradition: 2000 Years of Medicinal Plant Knowledge.

Dr R. Brinley Jones CBE, President of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and Chair of the Physicians of Myddfai Society.

Dr Diana Luft (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth). Diana is the leading authority on the medieval Welsh medical texts of the Myddfai tradition. She has just completed a definitive edition of all the Myddfai texts, placing them in the broader context of the European herbal tradition. This huge study is presently with the printers and will be published by University of Wales Press later this year.

Anne McIntyre practises in Gloucestershire and London. Anne is a Fellow of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and also a Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association. She is the author of many books including:

  • The Ayurveda Bible
  • The Definitive Guide to Ayurvedic Healing
  • Herbal Treatment of Children: Western and Ayurvedic Perspectives
  • The Complete Herbal Tutor

Dafydd Monks practises in beautiful Snowdonia, North Wales. He is the producer of The Herbary Notebook 2019, a seasonal diary for herbalists.

Laura Stannard, President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

Steve Taylor (NIMH) practises in Chichester and works with Kew Gardens in the Ethnomedica Project. Steve has a particular interest in working with the traditional Galenic system of humours and temperaments. Grounded in the western tradition, Steve is an eclectic practitioner, drawing, for instance, on Chinese, Tibetan and Indian traditions in areas such as pulse and tongue diagnosis.

Val Thomas (NIMH) practises in Norwich. has a particular research interest in Anglo-Saxon herbal remedies in current practice, and has lectured and published widely. Val is also author of A Witch’s Kitchen.

Dr Graeme Tobyn is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Central Lancashire. Graeme’s many publications include:

  • Culpepper’s Medicine: A Practice of Western Holistic Medicine
  • The Western Herbal Tradition: 2000 Years of Medicinal Plant Knowledge (with Alison Denham and Margaret Whitelegg)

Abbot Wang Chengya is a Daoist Master. He is Director of the Academy of Traditional Daoist Medicine. Abbot Wang also directs the MA programme in the prestigious Beijing University of Traditional Daoist Medicine. He is bringing his students to the conference to learn more about Western Herbal Medicine and to tell us about the Daoist approach of incorporating health-giving herbs in food to nurture health and treat particular imbalances. Conference-goers are welcome to join his group for their early morning meditative exercise during the conference.

Dylan Warren-Davis practises and lectures in England, Wales and much further abroad. Dylan, along with Stella Byrne, founded the Welsh School of Herbal Medicine. Dylan’s publications include:

  • Astrology & Health: A Beginner’s Guide
  • The compendious resource (DVD): A Welsh Herbal: A Herbal Journey through the Culture and Places of Wales (with Stella Byrne)



Rosemary Westlake practises in Cardiff, and is Vice-President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. Rosemary has made a particular study of several traditional Welsh herbal remedies and their efficacy in present practice for respiratory complaints.

Contact Details

Please email Dr James Robinson (external link) if you would like to know more about the conference.

Alternatively, you can contact the Lampeter Faculty Office:

Joanne Price
email: Joanne.Price@uwtsd.ac.uk
Tel: 01570 424 723

Book Now for the conference