About Me
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Knowing and Appreciating Lee

Following my bliss…

I have been blessed to be influenced by a variety of great teachers in my life.  Of the many ideas I have encountered, perhaps the one with the most profound influence upon me is the concept of a life driven forward toward personal “bliss”. This idea came from Joseph Campbell, a brilliant mythologist from last century.  

When we are living from what we love and care about we are “following our bliss”. For me it has not always been a conscious process, it’s not always rational and it’s definitely not without its challenges. Reflecting on my life, I see that at major moments, when big decisions have been made, I have been compelled to follow my bliss. I accidentally became a herbalist as a result of following my bliss! 

Where it all began… 

During my final year in high school, I was blessed to have a brilliant biology teacher who unlocked in me not only a love for the natural sciences, but also the joy of learning, possessing knowledge and a strong desire to understand how things work. For the first time study became effortless and I excelled.  I undertook a biological science degree, mostly in botany and fell in love with the plant world.  Around this time also I discovered Cannabis, my first experience of a plant medicine. Intrigued by its ability to impact on the psychological landscape and change one’s worldview, this became a turning point. I experimented with Cannabis for about 12 months where upon I found myself suddenly eager to continue to expand my consciousness.  Perhaps a harbinger of my future direction was my attendance at a herbal seminar given by Dorothy Hall (a well-known Australian naturopath) at age 18. I bought ylang ylang oil!  

Influences from Yoga… 

My quest toward developing my consciousness translated into an interest in Eastern philosophies, and in 1979 I joined a yoga society affiliated with Melbourne University.

 

The Yoga Education Centre and its sister organisation the Total Health and Education Foundation (THEF) aimed to improve the world through personal development guided by the principles and practice of Patanjali’s yoga as well as presenting a model to society that encouraged a focus on a child centered education and holistic health. I was captivated by these aspirations and so, I became a soldier in the yoga army (haha!). For me, the trajectory into personal development was the practice of yoga (daily meditation, breathwork, asanas) as well as doing good work in the community. At the time, my part-time work whilst studying was as a baker. The rigour of being a baker (early starts, stressful environment, sleep deprivation) plus working with a living, breathing thing (yeast), tilted me toward synchronising myself with the stages of bread development as I held to the intention of making a beautiful product. The quality of the bread I produced was a direct reflection of my immersion in this process.  In terms of the personal growth, the environment of the bakery represented a time of training for me. As I immersed myself deeper into habitual discipline and focus, the bakery life took on the vibe of a modern monastery, and sloughed away some of my negative behavioural patterns allowing me new space to consciously facilitate personal growth.  

 

Still a student with THEF, which hosted visiting scholars and ran symposiums, I was exposed to a kaleidoscope of new ideas regarding the relationship between physical health, emotional health and spiritual health. Here is where I took my first steps toward the “alternative health” pathway, without consciously choosing it. It appears that the thinking tapped into a deep thread of idealism that had always run through me. 

Discovering my path with herbal medicine… 

I began working for Medi-Herb in August 1990. I was the twelfth employee and 1st production manager in a business that was growing incredibly rapidly. Under the guidance and brilliance of Kerry Bone, MediHerb quickly established itself as the number one professional herbal brand in Australia. During my early years as production manager, I fell into rapture with the world of herbal medicine. As I became familiar with the plants and how to extract and manufacture them into products, I came to understand their various characteristics and application. I was essentially an apprentice herbalist. The extraction and manufacturing system was totally geared around producing the highest quality products, dedicated to honouring the innate healing power of each plant. It allowed MediHerb to present each herbal extract, in its authentic and complete phytochemical complexity, just as nature intended it to used. 

With the rapid growth of MediHerb, I took on the responsibility for many new facets of the business as they unfolded, running with various roles until the right person could be found for each. This was a particularly great blessing, which allowed me to experience many management positions within the herbal manufacturing unit and gave me a comprehensive appreciation of the whole business around herbal manufacturing.  

 

During this time not only did I get to learn from Kerry, but I had the chance work with and rub shoulders with some exceptional leaders and practitioners in the herbal world; Simon Mills, Rob Santich, Angela Hywood, Berris Burgoyne, Michelle Boyd, Amanda Williams to name a few.

 

Manufacturing naturally led to business development, which interacted me with the external aspects of the business, particularly in terms of developing international/foreign markets. In 1998/99 I travelled the world selling MediHerb’s premium-grade dry extracts and concentrates to the international supplement-manufacturing world. I bumped up against many of the commercial realities that operate within dietary supplement world and a consistent, yet shocking theme developed! Price was considered more important than the quality! The education I received on the international stage widened my eyes to the significance of companies promoting the quality message. 

My path to herbal education via the U.S.A… 

In 1999/2000, under the guidance of and with the CEO at the time, Johan DuToit, I had the unique opportunity to identify a suitable candidate for MediHerb as a distributor in the USA. In February 2000 I visited Standard Process INC in Palmyra, Wisconsin for the first time, introducing MediHerb. It was a perfect match and a contract between the two companies was signed, and by early 2001, MediHerb realised they would need someone permanently based in the USA to support that relationship.  

I relocated with my family to Wisconsin to take on the new role as business development manager in August 2001. These early days in the USA were incredibly busy and productive. The new role drew on all my skills but with an added layer of educating practitioners on how to understand and clinically apply MediHerb products. I travelled the country extensively (the only two states I have never visited are North and South Dakota) delivering herbal education to chiropractors, medical doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists and fellow herbalists. As a result, between the years of 2001 and 2008 my herbal medicine knowledge grew profoundly, as did my ability to articulate the message through seminars, and via mentoring doctors, etc. Toward the end of my tenure in the USA I developed a strong desire to formalise my herbal education so on our return to Australia in 2008 I put the wheels in motion to get back to study. But before I tell that story I found another form of bliss while living in Madison, the bliss of cycling! 

Taking my herbal expertise all the way… 

I began a Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) degree with a major in Western Herbal Medicine (WHM) in mid-2009, and I set myself up as an independent consultant to provide educational services on behalf of MediHerb, primarily in the North American market where I had established a significant following for the MediHerb product and message along with my own brand. I graduated in 2013 as the top student in my year. In that same year I set up my clinic and continued my consulting work with MediHerb directly as well as via my education in the USA.  

In 2017 I was approached by the Society of Wellness to distil the essence of my herbal knowledge into an online program as an asset for training health care professionals. This course is currently available to health practitioners, where it illustrates the application of herbal medicine in a contemporary wellness setting. To date over 300 practitioners have completed my program. [FIND IT HERE LINK]. 

In 2020 after 30 years with MediHerb I needed to spread my wings and chart a more independent course. I worked for a year with Aduco, based in Oakland CA, and helped establish a brand of medicinal mushroom-based products called 3rd Planet. The timing was challenging with COVID, but I am truly grateful for the opportunity Aduco gave me to engage deeply with medicinal mushrooms. 

My path to herbal education via the U.S.A… 

In 1999/2000, under the guidance of and with the CEO at the time, Johan DuToit, I had the unique opportunity to identify a suitable candidate for MediHerb as a distributor in the USA. In February 2000 I visited Standard Process INC in Palmyra, Wisconsin for the first time, introducing MediHerb. It was a perfect match and a contract between the two companies was signed, and by early 2001, MediHerb realised they would need someone permanently based in the USA to support that relationship.  

I relocated with my family to Wisconsin to take on the new role as business development manager in August 2001. These early days in the USA were incredibly busy and productive. The new role drew on all my skills but with an added layer of educating practitioners on how to understand and clinically apply MediHerb products. I travelled the country extensively (the only two states I have never visited are North and South Dakota) delivering herbal education to chiropractors, medical doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, acupuncturists and fellow herbalists. As a result, between the years of 2001 and 2008 my herbal medicine knowledge grew profoundly, as did my ability to articulate the message through seminars, and via mentoring doctors, etc. Toward the end of my tenure in the USA I developed a strong desire to formalise my herbal education so on our return to Australia in 2008 I put the wheels in motion to get back to study. But before I tell that story I found another form of bliss while living in Madison, the bliss of cycling! 

Sporting a recovery to optimal health… 

Exercise became a significant part of my healthy new lifestyle and I became passionate about cycling. Living in Madison, which is renowned as one of the most cycling friendly cities in the U.S., fed my passion and I started masters racing in 2003. Madison was also an epicentre of triathalon and hosts an annual Ironman triathlon event. An Ironman consists of 3.84 km open water swim followed by 180 km bike ride and ends with a marathon 42 km run.  Many of my cycling companions had competed in the Ironman and I felt the calling.  In October 2006 I signed up for the 2007 edition to be held early September. I had 10 months to get my swimming and running up to speed!  This event would be my longest ever swim and first marathon. I put in the hours, and for the first time I started consciously envisioning how the Ironman would play out on the day. This became a life changing experience. three or four times every week I would find a quiet place, close my eyes and in my mind race the entire event in intricate detail. On race day it played out exactly I had created it in my mind, with sunny skies, gentle breezes and calm water. I did even better than I expected and finished with a time of 10 hours 39 minutes. I was 134th out of 2209 finishers and 10th out 236 in my 45-49 group. My marathon time was 4:04. This incredible experience along with the realisation that combining vision with action can deliver tangible results, gave me the self-confidence I needed to take the next big step in my career!  

A new chapter: 

At the end of 2020 I participated in The Hoffman Process in Byron Bay, which turned out to be another one of those moments in life that facilitates a major resetting of direction. The Hoffman Process is a modern interpretation of the hero’s journey. Where you become aware of subconscious beliefs and negative patterns of behaviour, and consciously recognise they are not part of your essential self. After the negative programming is made apparent, it is traced back to its source (eg mother, father, sibling), and the threads of influence are de-tangled from your true essence. With forgiveness toward the originating source, this energetic imprint is transmuted into a new positive behaviour. The resulting freedom from subconscious emotional baggage allows interaction with your deeper truth from the supraconscious. The resulting sense of personal freedom and self-love, and acceptance of my place in the world, has given me the courage to live and work from a deeper place of authenticity. 

Now, as an independent, unaffiliated, and hopefully unbiased herbalist, I am striving to ensure the knowledge and essence of western herbal medicine is passed on in a way that honours the tradition. With the freedom to fully explore the development of ideas and express them, the tradition can flourish into new domains while maintaining a strong connection to its roots. I believe the sharing of knowledge will allow this tradition to develop strong new branches as we uncover novel information, and simultaneously strengthen our understanding of how we are interconnected with the natural world and the divinity in all things. 

My own health initiated a major turning point… 

By my late 20’s, after a period working in management and operations of the highly successful Brumby’s bakery franchise chain, I found myself owning and operating a retail bakery with my wife, Rosie. I was at the top of my game creatively, and we made a great team. The resulting business success gave me some spare time which I devoted to studying a social work degree. However, during my first year I began to realise that my interest in human health was not quite the fit with social work that I had hoped. 

Around this time, my health began to suffer, which become starkly apparent when I failed a glucose tolerance test. My doctor implored me, “Lee, this is serious, if you don’t take control of your lifestyle, eat better and reduce your stress levels, you’re on the fast-track to diabetes.” I was shocked! This was a turning point in my life. Looking back, it was a rubicon! I changed my diet, I started exercising regularly, experimented with various therapies and I began to claw my way back to optimal health. 

Nearing the end of my first year studying social work, I received a phone call from Kerry Bone asking me to take up the job of production manager at MediHerb, the fledgling herbal medicine he had just founded. Objectively it made no sense. Herbal Medicine at the time was a backwater, but I had no hesitation in accepting. I felt the calling and followed my bliss! It was like my whole previous ten years had been shaping and preparing me, not just to take on a new challenge, but also to get in touch with what has

 now become the herbalist healer aspect of my persona.