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Biophilia Survey Results - Part One

Survey Results – Part 1 – The Herbal Practitioner Profile

Part 1 of the survey results presented the findings about the respondents i.e. their age, when they graduated and how herbal practitioners use different nature-based activities for their self-care and to promote their practice.

Extensive research in contemporary fields of medicine has revealed that spending time in direct contact with outdoor nature has a positive and therapeutic effect upon our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. In addition, and as a result of these studies, we have seen a huge push to get people outside and (re)-connecting with the natural world. This was particularly promoted in popular media during the pandemic lockdowns.

These findings are not new as, within the fields of conservation and environmental science, there has been a long-standing interest in the promotion of the health benefits of spending time in nature as a means of encouraging and increasing people’s pro-environmental behaviour.

Those who feel they benefit from spending time in nature will be more likely to protect and care for the natural world. As herbalists, many of us have enjoyed the benefits of spending time with our plants, landscape and other elements of the natural world and believe it to be a key element of our medicine and own sense of wellbeing. However, until now, we have had no data on the extent to which herbalists engage with nature, either as part of their self-care routine or in their clinical practice.

Thanks to the response of Members from both the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy, the data gathered was able to build a profile of the participating herbal practitioners, as well as the extent to which practitioners incorporated nature contact into their self-care routines, promotion of practice and patient treatment plans. Possible influencing factors such as the location of clinics, busyness of practices and patient limitations were also explored.

In this first of three updates, we are excited to share with you the profile of participating herbal practitioners and the extent to, and ways in which, participants use nature-contact as part of their self-care routine or practice promotion.

The survey was sent via Institute and CPP e-mail correspondence to UK Members and overseas Members, receiving a 11% response rate from UK Members and a 1% response rate from overseas Members. The overall response rate of the survey was 12%. 90% of respondents were aged 40 years or older, the largest cohort being 50-59 year-olds (36%). Respondents were asked the date of graduation as herbalists and these dates span from 1982 to 2022 with 74% of respondents graduating since 2000 and 11% in the last two years (2020-2022).

All respondents undertake nature-based activities as part of their self-care routine, with walking or hiking (96%), gardening (87%) and foraging (79%) being the firm favourites. Creative activities such as plant photography (46%) and plant drawing (29%) were well represented, and themes arising from other activities mentioned included plant spirit connection, shamanism (4 mentions) outdoor sports and exercise including kayaking, cycling, paddle boarding (4 mentions), being with or working with animals (3 mentions), as well as body and breathwork such as Tai chi and Qigong (2 mentions).

The survey found that 97% of respondents engaged with nature-based activities as part of their self-care routine at least once per week, with 60% doing so on a daily basis. This was followed by those practising nature-based activities 4-6 times a week (21%) and 11% of respondents engaging 1-3 times a week. The lowest level of engagement practised by respondents was 2-3 times per month (2%). 62% of respondents stated that they engage in nature-based activities to promote their herbal practice. Herb walks were found to be the most popular (80%) followed by herb talks (73%) and medicine-making workshops (60%). Themes arising from other activities include plant photography for social media and newsletters (3 mentions), plant spirit connection and shamanism (2 mentions) and online courses (1 mentions).

View part 2 of the survey results here!