EP11: Intuitive herbalism

Over the years I have bumped into master herbalist Nathaniel Hughes at various gatherings around the country. We never seemed to be able to spend much time together as our paths where literally criss-crossing.

That aside we both recognised that we were on a similar page when it came to meeting and working with plants. Nathaniel coming from a herbalist’s perspective, and myself coming from a forager’s perspective.

So finally, after what must be four years of missing each other, I finally caught up with Nathaniel at his beautiful apothecary at Ruskin Mill, just outside Stroud.

We chatted about all manner of things. Everything from…

  • What is intuitive herbalism?
  • Being with plants; objectivity versus subjectivity
  • Knowing plants beyond intellect
  • Meeting plants as acquaintances, friends and lovers
  • Moving beyond seeing plants medicines as drugs
  • Autonomous student led learning
  • The controversy of regulation, certification and plant medicines
  • Dreaming with plants to develop relationship

So quite a mix-match as you can see. I hope you enjoy this episode of the Plants and People Podcast.

Show Notes

About Nathaniel Hughes

Nathaniel Hughes Herbalist

Nathaniel started his exploration of plants whilst studying a Chemistry degree with a particular interest in pharmacology. He went on to study a second postgraduate degree in Medical Herbalism which involved four years of full time study.

Since finishing his training he has spent over ten years exploring the spiritual and shamanic aspects of healing. He has a robust way of working with herbs that has its foundations in the spiritual, not in the biomolecular. This is in no way to dismiss the biomolecular effects of herbs, but rather to seat them in a broader, spiritual context.


  1. Thank you Robin for pointing out the work with’Intuitive Herbalism’and how Nathaniel got into it. It confirms my feelings about Plants and how to relate to them.

    So inspired by your work, so grateful to hear about it, as it brings confirmation to my heart, thanks Elise

  2. Beautiful and interesting discussion. I come from a different area of work but completely align with the commitment to ‘depth’ of understanding without the need for ‘proof’ of that via regulation and certification etc. But also your beautiful discussion of a book being like a spell…inspiring idea. Such discussions give a ‘warmth’ inside. I very much hope to do one of Nathaniel’s courses one day as someone who grew up among woodland and has a continuous interest in plants and their power and the possibility of their being a relationship with them.

      • Thanks Robin….even though we are working in different contexts I feel a ‘similarity of ethos’ with what you are doing and what you and Nathaniel were discussing. I grew up working in forestry with my Dad but then moved into teaching and then what I do now but perhaps there’s something about being in ‘nature’ that encourages a more organic way of thinking (in the systemic way of meaning that word) where connection and relationship are more important than ‘outcomes’ and ‘targets’. Really, really enjoyed your discussion together so thanks for sharing it.

  3. Dear Robin,
    I listened to the discussion but I can honestly say, “it went straight over my head”…Mmm all those long words it reminded me when my 1st wife finished her social policy degree and I never understood a word she said as she always used long words that I had never heard of!..I never went out without my pocket Collins dictionary when meeting her friends!..anyway I think I may have gotten the jist of what Nathaniel was going on about 🙂

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