Ange Palmer

Clinical Medical Herbalist Dip.Clin.Herb.Med CCNM

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I have always had a strong connection to nature and nurture. As a child I loved to be under the huge old willow and walnut trees at our home, and would commune with hedgehogs in the garden at night. I was a dedicated St John’s Ambulance cadet and between the ages of 10 and 13 spent hundreds of hours through my weekends working as a nurse aid in elder-care homes. It was on one of those shifts that I was privileged to hold the hand of a woman as she peacefully passed on and this was a profound teaching for me at a young age.

Over the next decade I was shaped by many powerful encounters on the Earth – exploring and living in remote mountain valleys in New Zealand, meeting humpback whales eye to eye in Alaska, sailing through wild waters of South East Asia, and translating on an ethno-botanical research expedition in the Sumatran rainforest in Indonesia. We were documenting medicinal plants used in the area and I had a chance encounter with a family group of hunter gatherers called Orang Rimba, people who then roamed nomadically through the dense forests. Their ability to exist entirely within their natural environment was very striking to me.

Motherhood inspired me to learn about wellbeing within a natural context – homeopathy, yoga, wholefoods and herbs became part of my everyday life as my wise daughter ushered me forward into my future…

My time in rainforests lead on to years of environmental action and conservation campaigns. In 1990 I ran a national awareness campaign around the alternatives to disposable nappies and sanitary products for Woman’s Suffrage Year and as a result of this I launched a small business called Moontime. (No longer my business, still doing great things!) Through this women-focused enterprise I became aware of how many women had lost touch with the tidal flow of their natural cycles and how many struggled with hormonal imbalance. And so I trained as a Clinical Medical Herbalist at the Canterbury College of Natural Medicine, graduating in 2001, determined to help and excited to enter into a partnership with PLANTS. It was my natural calling.

In 2009 I somewhat accidentally embarked on a rich adventure working as production manager and film producer on a feature documentary released in 2013 called  2 Degrees. This film examines climate change through a prism of social justice, issues around tropical deforestation in developing countries and the bid to replace the use of fossil fuels. In a way it symbolises the work I do as a clinician, working with people to address the difficult challenges in their bodies, their lives and their environment.

The film project took me on many interesting journeys including to the Ecuadorian Amazon, the UN General Assembly in New York, the remote Equateur province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the infamous Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. (Get a glimpse of me there in this video!) I was unprepared for the depths of poverty and disarray that I witnessed in the Congo and the unsettling revelations about the true reality of disparity between rich and poor, really poor, in this world have left an indelible imprint. I have a strong ethic of compassion, action and climate justice as a result.

In 2013 I happily returned to my home community of Nelson, New Zealand and have resumed my health practice. In 2016 I completed my 2000 hour Compassionate Practitioner Ashtanga yoga training with my teacher Dena Kingsberg and this has become a foundational part of my life, and my work.