About Us

About Southern Institute of Medical Herbalism

The team at the Southern Institute of Medical Herbalism are dedicated, long-term medical herbalist practitioners and educators who have a lifelong passion for the art and science of herbal medicine.

With immersive, diverse streams of learning, starting at the Certificate level and going throughout our courses, we want to support and stimulate anyone who is ready to study herbal medicine. With the personalised mentoring that then comes in for our Diploma students, we want to help those who are ready to dedicate to this work to become safe and effective medical herbalists and natural health practitioners.

Ultimately we want all our students, whatever level they train to, to become skilled and confident with these old ways of medicine, so that they can help remove suffering and bring more peace, love, health and healing into the world.

Our Medical Herbalist Team

Richard Whelan

Richard has been in full-time practice as a medical herbalist in Christchurch, New Zealand since 1989. He has taught and written a great deal on herbs and health including a clinically relevant constitutional system and cycle of healing model for students and practitioners of Western Medical Herbalism. Much of this material is freely shared in the ‘living book’ of his website rjwhelan.co.nz.

As the Director of SIMH, Richard is responsible for the overall structure and development of the curriculum and he has developed an in-depth series of over 300 video lectures which guide students through their learning journey in both the certificate and diploma courses. As a highly experienced clinician, he plays a key role in providing mentoring and personalised guidance, particularly to the diploma students.

Mary Allan
Course Coordinator

Mary dedicated herself to herbal medicine in the early 90s. As an enthusiastic student, she gained many amazing experiences and qualifications over the years. She has broad experience in the field, including teaching, consulting, and editorial work. She practices as a medical herbalist at her busy multi-modality clinic Solstice Herbs, in Milford, Auckland and is passionate about education and empowering people to understand their healing potential in harmony with the natural world.

At SIMH, Mary is responsible for coordinating the course, offering student support and mentoring, and ensuring the students get all the materials they need to be well-equipped for their great learning journey! 

Paul Bergner
Senior Lecturer

Paul has studied and practiced natural medicine since 1973, he has written seven books on the subject of Natural Health and has been the editor of the professional journal of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism (NAIMH) since its founding in 1989.

Paul directed the clinical herbalism programs at Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies for 18 years, training more than 230 certified clinical herbalists. In addition to directing the NAIMH, he teaches herbal materia medica and therapeutics, clinical nutrition, clinical skills and medical history and philosophy.

In the form of audio recordings that the student can listen to whenever it best suits them, Paul's world-class audio lectures and distance-learning materials form a core part of the fundamentals of both our Certificate and Diploma programs. 

Anya ValentyInstructor

Anya trained as a medical doctor in her home city of Pyatigorsk, Russia and began working in hospitals in 1995, where she specialised in emergency care and pathology. However, she found her true calling was to work with Nature and traditional herbal medicines. Pyatigorsk means ‘five mountains’ and, from early childhood, Anya had frequently travelled with her Grandmother, a woman deeply immersed in folk medicine, into the surrounding hills and valleys of the Caucasus region to gather and learn about medicinal herbs.

Anya has been closely involved in the development of SIMH since its beginning and she is now active in the teaching faculty with marking assignments and mentoring individual students with constructive guidance and support as they progress through the work.

Danielle Whelan
Student Liaison

After completing a University degree in humanitarian studies, Danielle has been working in herbal medicine since 2014, firstly as an apprentice herbalist with her father, Richard Whelan, then as a practitioner seeing her own patients.

As the student liaison for SIMH, Danielle is a kind, patient and passionate person who works hard to help our students feel well supported from the very beginning of their learning journey. Danielle remains actively involved with students throughout the course, helping with various administrative matters, facilitating online student gatherings and helping to teach herbal medicine manufacturing.

Michelle Hampton
Administrative Assistant

Michelle has a life-long interest in holistic and herbal medicines and her primary work is in a natural health practice, making and dispensing prescriptions, explaining how to use them, and taking care of many other core front-line duties in a busy herbal medicine clinic.

Michelle also provides expert administrative assistance in the smooth running of the SIMH accounts and in caring for and curating the SIMH library, an online resource for our students that provides a searchable platform to find case studies, articles and discussion on all things herbal and health.