Like Paul on the road to Damascus, Patrick Murphy underwent a dramatic conversion.
In the case of the Irish-born health professional, it was from standard pharmaceuticals to medical herbalism.
After a very successful career working for a major multi-national pharmaceutical company, Patrick – to use his word – became ‘disillusioned.’ “I saw and hear about the severe side-effects some of the pharmaceutical products were causing in many people,” he recalled. “I found it impossible any longer to sell products I didn’t believe in.”
Then Patrick met a naturopath. And that began a dramatic change in his world outlook and his view of healing.
As Patrick explained, “I met a herbalist called Dr Denis Peters in Fort Myers, Florida, and he introduced me to the world of herbalism. It was one of those things that I just became very interested in and it went from there. My mother’s uncle was a herbalist also, and I just seemed to have an affinity for it.”
He added, “To learn more about it, I went to Clayton University and studied there for a doctorate. I then went to a lot of different schools for herbalism with different teachings and I worked with a lot of different healers, Bulgarian healers especially. I have qualifications from different countries, but I’d say my greatest asset would be having learned from good naturopaths and herbalists in other countries and learning different trains of thought about holistic healing.”
During a recent one-hour interview at the Errigal Hotel in Donegal, northwest Ireland after he had conducted a busy day of clinics, he told me, “I realised what had been known for millennia, that herbs, many of which grow all around us, help keep people fit and healthy.”
After many years as sales and marketing manager in different parts of the world for a major US-based pharmaceutical company, a trouble-shooter if you will, Patrick became fascinated to learn more about what some call ‘alternative medicine.’ This led to a steep but thorough learning curve and a plethora of qualifications for the Corofin, County Galway man.
Curious by nature, Patrick asked a lot of questions – of himself and of others. And there’s no stopping him now.
When Patrick was studying herbalism, he never envisioned a career in the industry. He was studying the subject purely for the love of it. At the time, he was working in the pharmaceutical industry but when he began to see herbs doing the things pharmaceuticals couldn’t, he realised he needed to change path in life.
“At the start I didn’t envision a career in it, I just had this tremendous interest in it,” he said. “When I started to see the difference between pharmaceuticals and herbals, however, that the first treated only the symptoms, with side effects, while the other treated the root cause with very limited side effects, and in most cases none at all, then it was very easy for me to make up my mind that I wanted to pursue herbalism as a career.”
Patrick has opened an international holistic herbal medicine academy in various languages. He is also doing something that, he says, “no other herbalist has ever attempted before.
“I’m opening an online library for common ailments, from a holistic point of view.” he said proudly. “There will be over 90 common ailments listed in the library, including asthma, fibre myalgia, arthritis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, low energy, high blood pressure, skin rash, piles, dermatitis, ringworm, bronchitis, and recurrent kidney infections.”
Patrick’s well-considered diagnoses and treatments vary greatly, affecting every part of the body and most diseases.
For example, for those who suffer from the agonising pains of fibromyalgia, he suggests the following – four drops of rosemary oil and four drops of winter green oil in a warm bath three to four times weekly
“After the bath is taken, dry off, rub in a special herbal ointment into the problem areas with deep tissue massage,” he said. “If people don’t have a bath, then use a foot spa four times per week.”
Patrick also sources his natural products and ingredients from a wide variety of sources worldwide. His special herbal remedy for hip problems comes from his doctor friend in Madrid, Spain, while a special jelly propolis, a royal gluten-free jelly with vitamin C and propolis and no added sugar comes from the same city. Another special propolis comes in the form of a mouth spray. Other products include cholesterol reducing capsules and natural vitamin supplements, free of chemicals. He also works closely with companies based in the US.
Before offering treatments to his patients, Patrick conducts a thorough physical, psychological and ‘environmental’ examination, meaning he examines the problem, whether that be a skin rash or a constantly recurring cold, then asks a series of lifestyle questions.
“Sometimes, the physical problem is rooted in a long-standing personal or a professional issue and manifests in an ailment of some kind, and it is important to find that out,” he said.
In talking about the body being “in a state of harmony or disharmony,” Patrick says that, “imbalances can be caused by the stresses of modern-day life, resulting in an overdose of acidity which can cause cancers, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease. We should be aiming for a more alkaline lifestyle.”
Patrick said world renowned American naturopath, William McGrath, once presented him with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to alternative medicine and added that his clinics book out in a matter of hours, and his online courses have been translated into several different languages such is the scale of audiences calling for his expertise.
“As more and more people look towards alternative medicine and vegan foods, the future certainly looks plant-based in more ways than one,” he said. “Throughout his decades of experience, I have witnessed the benefits of herbs on a daily basis. Now I want people to learn about herbs for themselves so they in turn can help their family. My goal is to have a herbalist in every family, someone who understands the fundamentals of herbalism, useful remedies, and the common ailments and that they know how to go about helping their family members with diet and simple remedies.”
He has spent the past three years developing a graph in which foods are graded from highly acidic to highly alkaline. This work was all borne out of concerns regarding the digestive system. Disease, after all, thrives in an acidic environment, something it cannot do if one’s body is alkaline. The graph Patrick created for his book helps people establish the foods that are the most alkaline and those that are the most acidic.
“The number of ailments for the digestive systems is absolutely horrendous,” Patrick explains. “Gasteritis, IBS, Crohns, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, these common ailments are a symptom of a digestive system that is hugely inflamed. Where acid lives, disease can live.”
He continued, “When we were in the pandemic, I decided that with all the work I had done over three years studying the alkaline foods, and the acidic foods and grading them for their alkalinity and acidity, I decided that I would write a book to help people maintain a healthy weight within one to two pounds of their normal weight and to have longevity in doing that. So what I had to do was come up with a couple of hundred foods that were safe and nourishing for their alkalinity and with the acidity (the body needs a certain amount of acidity). In grading the acidic foods, what we found out was that the light-to-moderate acidic foods would be acceptable 20% of the time, and the alkaline foods 80% of the time. What you had to stay away from were the highly acidic foods. They are the foods that cause the weight problems, but they also introduce inflammation into the system. What I was looking for was a scientific but common sense way that people could help themselves with their overall health by having the correct diet. Remember the body is supposed to have the mechanism to regulate the pH but unfortunately because we didn’t legislate for our highly acidic western diet, this is not something we can rely on anymore.”
He added, “You would be surprised at how ailments can be treated with proper diet and herbs. People come to me, and they might be suffering with stress, skin ailments, teenage acne, psoriasis, eczema rampant in society, scalp problems, arthritis and joint problems, and herbs can help in a big way. With anti-inflammatory medications, you have to be very careful because they can have side effects that are very severe especially in the vital organs and the kidneys.”
As for the future of herbal medicine in Ireland, he said, “It’s good, we’re getting to a point where like in France where some doctors are qualified in both disciplines. Many are herbalists as well as being medical practitioners.”
In his endeavours, Patrick is helped by a lot of people including Dr. Sophie Faherty from Connemara, Galway, who is helping with the French students. “Doctor Faherty, medical doctor for over thirty years and who retired from same two years ago has a fantastic herb garden on Sky Road in Clifden,” he said, “She helps students learn about the importance of a good organic, mainly alkaline, diet. She uses fresh herbs for common ailments for family and friends.”
He and his team also conduct a test with a Supertronic machine that’s based on the meridians and acupuncture points and gives him feedback as to the energy in the various organs of patients, which helps greatly in achieving precise diagnosis.
The art of healing must run in the Murphy genes as his and his wife Geraldine’s daughter, Nikita, is training in Scotland to become a nurse.
So, with luck, Patrick’s tradition of family healing is set to continue for several more generations, much to the benefit of us all.