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 WhelanDirector
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 and 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
Mary AllanCourse Coordinator
Mary has studied and practiced natural medicine for over 25 years and currently practices in Browns Bay, Auckland. She was the editor of Avena, the professional journal of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists (NZAMH) for 10 years and also spent 12 years in a variety of other roles including President, Secretary and PR & Conference Coordinator.

Mary has a Bachelor of Natural Medicine, a Diploma in Yoga Therapy and a Diploma in Clinical Herbal Medicine. She has taught a number of subjects including Herbal Materia Medica and Herbal Therapeutics to degree-level naturopathy students.

Along with instructing and mentoring, Mary is responsible for coordinating the course and ensuring the students get all the materials they need to be well equipped for their great learning journey!

Paul Bergner
Paul BergnerSenior 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.

Paul will be active on our faculty and in our forum and his world-class audio lectures and distance-learning materials form a core part of our course.

Anya Valenty
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
Danielle WhelanStudent Liaison
Danielle has completed a University degree in Humanitarian Studies, a Diploma in Yoga Practice, and is Certified as a Holistic Doula (pregnancy, birth and postpartum advocate). She has been working full time in herbal medicine since 2014, firstly as an apprentice herbalist with her father, Richard Whelan, and then, since achieving the SIMH Diploma of Medical Herbalism in April, 2021, is now qualified as a Medical Herbalist and is working alongside her father helping their busy community practice in Christchurch.

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. She remains actively involved with students throughout the course, helping with various administrative matters, facilitating online student gatherings and helping to teach herbal medicine manufacturing. Danielle also now helps her father with mentoring students through the Diploma program and will be closely assisting him in the immersive workshops that are now running to teach clinical skills in the art of herbal medicine.

Mother Nature
Mother Nature
“I who am the beauty of the green earth
and the white moon among stars
and the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise
and come unto me”


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