Getting to know medical herbalist and leading businesswoman Sandra Clair (M.A.)

Sandra Clair

Sandra Clair is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified Swiss trained medical herbalists and a medical anthropologist (M.A.).

She is currently completing a PhD in Health Science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Emeritus Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Sandra has been practicing and teaching plant medicine for over 25 years, has been a speaker at many health science conferences and is an internationally published writer of health science topics. She speaks regularly to corporate, health and education organisations and interest groups.

In 1992, following a chance encounter with a renowned Swiss nun, medical herbalist and midwife, Sandra spent three years learning from Sister Pauline many of the revered secrets of traditional European medicine. This led her to complete a master’s degree in medical anthropology at the University of Berne in Switzerland and post-graduate qualifications in health sciences in New Zealand and Australia.

In 1998, Sandra founded Artemis, New Zealand’s leading plant medicine company.

She has featured in The New Zealand Herald, The Australian Women’s Weekly, Stuff.co.nz, Viva, Good Health Choices, Element magazine and Live Well magazine, and given on-air health interviews on Mix, Coast, The Hits and RadioLive.

Sandra is on the NZAMH committee to help grow the professional body and promote the profession of medical herbalists. She was selected to be part of the University of Canterbury’s post-graduate campaign as an ambassador.

Available for:

  • Speaking opportunities
  • Panel discussions on plant medicine, health and wellbeing
  • Corporate health and wellbeing seminars
  • Media commentary

Here’s your chance to learn more about one of New Zealand’s leading medical herbalists:

What is plant medicine?
Plant medicine is also known as herbal or traditional medicine. It is the practice of using medicinally active plants to prevent and treat illness and effectively re-balance and build resilience in the human body.

Nourishing nutrients, including naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, trace elements, are contained in medicinal plants. For 2,500 years plant medicine has been used as mainstream medicines across all cultures.

You grew up in Switzerland is plant medicine an important element in healthcare there?
Plant medicine is a normal part of everyday life in Switzerland. It co-exists alongside the newer pharmaceutical medicines with around 60% of Swiss pharmacy remedies dispensed being plant medicines.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) plant medicine provides essential remedies for healthcare for 5.6 billion people (80% of world population).

In 1995 you travelled to Otago, why did you decide to immigrate to New Zealand?
I fell in love with the outstanding beauty and plant diversity of Otago and its people. I had a vision that I wanted to contribute by helping Kiwis become happier and healthier people through my work.

What’s one change every Kiwi household could make which would significantly better their health?
I think as a country we need to be more proactive about looking after your health rather than waiting to when you are sick. For example, I start each day with a liver detox tea, not because I have issues with my liver but because I want to ensure it is as healthy as it can be. We see plant medicine as being the fence at the top of the cliff, rather than the ambulance waiting at the bottom.

You live in an ecosanctuary on the Otago Peninsula, what advantages does living there give you?
There is something magical about living amongst nature and in New Zealand you don’t have to go far to achieve this. We have wonderful parks and gardens, beaches and lakes at our doorstep. The Otago Peninsula is stunningly beautiful, rugged during wild weather and peppered with wildlife – it truly is a sanctuary and I make sure, even when I am incredibly busy and stressed, that I get out amongst it every day.

What has been the biggest career (or life) lesson you have learnt so far?
Be curious. Don’t be shy to ask for help. Seek out mentors and trust your instincts.

You started your business from scratch, what advice would you give other women wanting to do the same?
Make sure you are driven by passion and not money, that way you’ll enjoy every day and as a result there’s a better chance you will make money along the way.

What is one goal you want to accomplish in your lifetime and why?
To educate people about the huge benefits of integrating plant medicine into their lives as a proactive way to support managing their health.

If you weren’t a medical herbalist and anthropologist what would you be doing?
I feel that this career was chosen for me, rather than me deciding to become a medical herbalist, it was meant to be. My journey with Sister Pauline and my further education into plant medicine were such natural steps it is hard to imagine doing anything else!

How do you keep fit, healthy and balanced in your life?
I love to walk as it gives me time to think, I also enjoy Pilates and make sure I see an acupuncturist regularly.

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