August/September 2018 83
COURTESY OF PAULA GRAINGER (2)
trial move. About a year and a half later, they came back to Santa
Cruz and moved into a rented house with three suitcases, a big
box of Legos and her husband’s guitar. After another year, they
decided to stay.
The decision meant Grainger had to close up her apothecary
and clinic. It also meant she had to change the way she ran her
practice. She even had to change her professional identity.
MAKING A MEDICAL DISTINCTION
Unlike the United Kingdom, the United States doesn’t recognize
herbalists as medical professionals, so Grainger can’t diagnose
maladies or prescribe medicines here, or call herself a medical
herbalist, as she does in the U.K. In the U.S., she’s an herbalist.
Grainger points out that there are a number of countries besides
England that do recognize herbalists as medical professionals, or
that use herbal medicines in conventional practices.
“If you go to China or India and go see a conventional medical
doctor, they’re as likely to give you herbs or acupuncture as they
are conventional medicine,” she explains. “There are many parts
of the world where herbal medicine is just medicine. In Germany,
it’s very widely used, but it’s something that doctors were trained
in and only they are allowed to prescribe and use. It’s the same
She notes that one of the reasons herbal medicine is more
recognized and respected in the U.K. dates back to the reign of
Henry VIII in the 1500s.
“At some point during his reign, Henry VIII got very sick
and was given herbs. He was so impressed by their effect that he
wrote a charter saying that no herbalist should be mistreated or
prevented from practicing. Astonishingly, it’s still around and still
protected,” she explains.
She adds that when Henry VIII was around, a kind of competition
between chemical and plant medicine was just beginning.
For example, many doctors gave their patients mercury to cure
making class at
In addition to helping
clients with medical
issues, she also teaches
people how to make
skincare items like
lotions, lip balm and