When Hannah Charman was young she loved school and had a real passion for learning. She had many hobbies which kept her busy all week, however, one day when she was 14, her dad picked her up from school and by the time they had driven 10 minutes to the shops she was unable to get out of the car.
She spent the next three weeks on the sofa with what they assumed was a virus. Three months later, once again, she was struck down with extreme exhaustion in a matter of minutes. Her dad took Hannah to the doctor who, despite seeing she barely was able to walk, told her she had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. His best suggestion was to go back to school and for her parents to get Hannah to an educational psychologist. Her parents proceeded to take her to Homeopathic Doctor who had been recommended. She remembers how he listened to her for over an hour, and took what she was saying seriously. She remembers the sense of relief someone was going to help, and after a few weeks on homeopathic medicines and many supplements, Hannah started to get better.
This part of Hannah’s recovery soon reached a plateau and she was taken to another Homeopath, and then a Hypnotherapist. The Hypnotherapy, although she was already much better by then, made Hannah feel even more positive and confident after one session. Her parents both left their jobs and retrained as Hypnotherapists. They set up a practice from home in south London and in 1993 Hannah decided to train in Reiki with international Reiki Master Barbara McGregor. As the last of Hannah’s CFS symptoms left, she opened her eyes about the ways in which the mind creates different physical and emotional messages. At aged 16, Hannah was the extra ‘pair of hands’ treating patients with Reiki alongside her parents, and observing how the mind-body connections were playing out in people’s lives.
At aged 18, Hannah began studying for a BSc in Western Herbal Medicine at Middlesex University. This was the first university degree course in Europe to teach Herbal Medicine and was focused on the scientific aspects of herbal medicine. Her training lasted for four years and included a good grounding in conventional diagnosis and treatments as well as herbal therapeutics.
Hannah set up as a Medical Herbalist in 2001. She worked full-time for a large facilities management company based in Portsmouth and saw patients during the evenings and weekends. It was challenging work, however, Hannah was passionate about what she did and loved having her own business. She soon realised the company she was working for during the day had a vast amount of staff with medical conditions. Often people were absentees with the same kinds of challenges she was successfully treated in her herbal practice!
Hannah believes having a business is like having a baby. “You love it completely; however, it takes you almost to breaking point from time to time.” smiles Hannah. Setting up a full-time business on minimal sleep, whilst spending an extra 20 hours a week managing her son’s special diet has been challenging. Hannah discovered her son had PKU, a rare genetic condition, which, means he is unable to break down one amino acid found in protein. He was diagnosed and started treatment. Even though they are still seeking a ‘cure’ for PKU, Hannah finds ways in which herbal medicine manages it.
Hannah likes a challenge, loves her work, which keeps her going. She is fortunate to have realised in her early teens how powerful the body’s ability to heal itself is. She has seen numerous miracles in her own patients and her colleagues as well. These miracles happen all the time when one step up to take responsibility for one’s health and take the best care of themselves.
Hannah states,” The wonderful thing about Herbal Medicine there is always something you are able to do in order to help yourself. Whether you’ve got a migraine or waiting for your hospital appointment date, even if you’re in the final few weeks of life, nurturing yourself with herbs and healthy foods is empowering. It’s a world apart from handing all responsibilities over to your doctor who, for various reasons may be quite limited in terms of what they are able to offer you.”
the Jupital had the opportunity to ask Hannah some questions:
the Jupital: How do you like to be recognized for your hard work?
“I love getting a thank you note and good feedback from my patients. I think I have one of the most rewarding jobs there is, and it’s always nice to know I’ve managed to make a real difference in helping someone to feel better. I keep every little bit of positive feedback to read through when things are a bit more challenging, and it reminds me why I do what I do. “
the Jupital: How would you define a successful business?
“Years ago I would have said, “one which makes so many millions of pounds a year” however becoming a mum has changed my perspective massively. I would define a successful business as one, which has earned the respect of its employees, customers, and the wider public. Those of us who work for ourselves love the flexibility and freedom, which comes with it, and it’s great to see larger companies working hard to make their employees happier now too. Any investment in employee health and happiness seems to be returned several times over.”
the Jupital: How do you create a great patient experience?
“This is something I’ve been getting a bit more creative with lately. I’m aiming to offer patients exactly what they need from the moment they walk in the door. For example, recently I’ve been working with a gentleman having withdrawal symptoms coming off prescription medication. He felt out of control and anxious, so he had some Reiki whilst we were talking during his consultation, which instantly helped him calm down. Then, he chose the herbs for his prescription by tasting and smelling them, which helped him to feel more in control over his health again. Herbal Medicine gives us huge scope for creativity, which is one of the many reasons I love it.”
Hannah helps her patients to understand any tests or treatments from their doctor. She writes to GPs when her discussions with a patient may have a bearing on their diagnosis or treatment and offer moral support whatever situation they are in. Hannah believes herbal medicine is for everyone and as time goes by aims to teach more workshops where people are able to learn how to make their own medicines safely at home. These days Hannah is even visiting companies to educate staff on how they may take better care of themselves by eating well, thinking positively and of course, using herbs.
Being in the business for over 25 years, Hannah still is amazed at how people are able to get out of even the most challenging situations by taking charge of their own health and using holistic treatments. A recent family member passed away due to a medical condition, which, motivated Hannah into trying something new. She is in the process of setting up a ‘VIP Group’ where for an affordable monthly fee anyone is able to have access to expertise from Hannah and six others all with different specialities in holistic healthcare, whatever situation they find themselves in.
Her main focus is to be on prevention and aims to offer regular checks to help pick up early signs of any medical conditions arising, making them much more treatable. It is something Hannah is able to also offer into the corporate sector easily, especially for smaller companies, which may sometimes be challenged to provide workplace well-being services. Hannah aims to be innovative in what she offers, and as herbal medicine was the original medicine, she wants to make it easy for as many people as possible to rediscover its wonders.
Hannah’s business is driven by her passion for what she does. She loves seeing her patients improving, especially when doctors have been unable to help. She loves watching them feeling more empowered to make decisions about their treatments, and the fascinating journey of self-discovery, which comes with her kind of work. To her, helping a person to unpick a chronic medical condition on every level and make the necessary change is the best way to get a lasting recovery. Having spent over half her life in holistic healthcare, Hannah is determined to spread the word about how plant medicines may help all as far as she is able to.
To learn more about herbal medicine contact Hannah Charman via her website.
She is also available via her social media links:
What other tips might one suggest in order to keep their health as a top priority?