The TN card is the Tunbridge Wells loyalty scheme that rewarding shoppers for supporting local. This month its founder Jess Gibson chats to Anita Graham, Medical Herbalist and owner of apothecary shop and clinic The Herbal Dispensary on Castle Street, Tunbridge Wells…
Anita, congratulations on your beautiful new premises in Tunbridge Wells. How long have you been open now and where were you based before this?
Thank you! I opened in Tunbridge Wells in March 2023. Prior to that I ran a herbal dispensary and clinic in Sevenoaks for 21 years.
What services do you provide at your clinic?
I run my apothecary shop for customers to come and seek advice for herbal health care and have a variety of products for sale. The shop is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 3pm.
My clinic room provides the opportunity for customers to book tailor-made professional herbal consultations with me. Initial consultations are 60-75 minutes and follow-ups are 30-45 minutes.
My fully-stocked dispensary within the shop allows me to make up my personalised prescriptions for patients to take home following the consultation.
What will we find on the shelves in your shop?
I have my range of over-the-counter remedies which range from a variety of formulations for coughs, colds, ‘flu, indigestion, adrenal tonics, hayfever, immune support, nervous system support and sleep aids, plus many more. I offer these once I’ve consulted with the customer about any other health issues and whether they are taking any concurrent medications. I also stock a range of herbal tea blends, medicinal creams and capsules. There are a few high-quality non-synthetic products ie. bath soaks, soaps and candles, too.
What conditions do you treat and what do you specialise in?
I specialise mostly in treating anxiety, stress, sleep issues and all the stages of the menopause. Plus a range of gynaecological complaints including endometriosis, PCO, PMS, menstrual irregularity and period pain. Patients also book to see me for mild to moderate depression, digestive complaints, immune health, post-viral support and recovery, migraines, hypertension, arthritis, skin issues, and child/teen health. This list is not exhaustive, so I advise customers to call the dispensary for any queries as to whether I may be able to help.
How did your journey in herbal medicine begin?
I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for the natural world. In my early twenties I was introduced to a well-known herbalist in London. He agreed to meet me for tea so I could quiz him about his work and the route into herbal medicine. He also treated me successfully with herbal medicine. I went off travelling shortly afterwards for 14 months and when I returned to the UK I started the professional four-year BSc Degree course. As a student, I worked as a dispensing assistant for two Medical Herbalists. Once I qualified in 2001, I became a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and set up a herbal dispensary and clinic straight away and started seeing patients.
Who is your typical customer?
Herbal medicine treats many different health issues. I have mothers coming in to seek herbal advice for their children and teenagers, others wanting help for their partners or for themselves and regulars who come to get repeats of my herbal remedies that they’ve tried or who want to sample other products too. I also get customers coming in to make bookings with me for consultations in the clinic. I treat all ages, but a fairly high percentage of customers are women between the ages of around 35 to 60 who need help with the stages of menopause, or want general help with wellbeing, nervous system functioning, energy and sleep etc. Some people just pop by out of curiosity or to support my business with kind comments and I have also had a large number of local therapists introducing themselves which makes my business feel very supported.
What is your advice for those of us wanting to improve our health and wellbeing in 2024?
My advice for women starting to notice changes in their hormonal balance, or nervous state, is to treat it early so that things don’t get too out of balance. For example, Herbal Medicine and dietary support can help greatly through each stage of the menopause. I have seen women at this phase of their lives for so long now and have helped many who want holistic, natural alternatives to HRT. At all stages of the menopause, prescribed herbal medicine serves to strengthen and calm the nervous system, support the gut, assist liver and endocrine function, and help improve hormonal balance leading to greater balance and wellbeing. My advice is to give natural herbal treatment a go – the risk of side effects is very low, and it offers huge benefits for many. It can also be used in a supportive role alongside HRT. Herbal Medicine ‘done properly’ involves taking the right herbs at the right dosage with the right advice so try to check with a qualified herbalist to see what is best for you.
How are you finding life in Castle Street?
I like Castle Street a lot. It has its own sense of character which is very appealing. It’s great being part of this local friendly business community and some of the Castle Street residents do pop by for a chat. My shop is just a few metres from the old High Street and is close to the Common, The Pantiles and the train station so I think it’s in a really good location and I really enjoy being in this part of town.
What can we look forward to from the Herbal Dispensary this year?
Herb walks will feature again this year and herbal workshops, gatherings and talks will also start soon. My range of products in the shop will continue to increase and Allergy and Food Intolerance testing will be available in the clinic too.
Thank you for joining the TN card. Why is it important to support local and how do you thank TN card members for using you?
I was born in Tunbridge Wells and as I have lived here or nearby for many years, the town has a special place in my heart and I really want it to thrive. I’m told by many that my business is really needed here, which I appreciate. I am glad to be part of the TN card and thank members for supporting local. When they spend £35 or more they’re given a packet of ‘Tea Blend of the Week’. Also, anyone booking an initial consultation with me is entitled to a 15% discount.
About The Herbal Dispensary
Location: 2 Castle Street, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1XJ
Visit for: Herbal remedies, natural products and herbal medicine clinic
Member reward: 15% off initial consultations and 10% off follow-up consultations. A 50g bag of our ‘tea of the month’ when spending £35 or more on products in the shop (excluding prescriptions).