John Hyde, one of the driving forces behind the resurgence of the herbal medicine profession in the United Kingdom, passed away on February 2, 2014, after a short illness. Hyde was the third generation in his family to practice herbal medicine as the son of renowned herbalist Frederick Fletcher-Hyde and the grandson of F.J. Hyde, who founded Hydes Herbal Clinic in 1908 in Leicester. John Hyde took over the clinic in 1960 and ran it until his retirement in 2003.1 The clinic continues to be a family business through the work of his daughter Rachel. The “Hydes Approach” is maintained by Senior Herbalist Serene Foster, DPhil, who trained in clinical practice under John before working alongside him for several years, subsequently taking over the clinic in her own right (S. Foster e-mail to H. Bauman, April 4, 2014).
A native of Leicester, England, born on February 12, 1943, Hyde would become one of the UK’s foremost experts on herbal medicine, giving lectures and talks around the country and having his work featured in numerous publications and media throughout his 40-year career.
“John learned about Herbal Medicine all through his life as a youngster growing up in a totally dedicated family,” wrote Dr. Foster (e-mail, March 27, 2014). “He gained a first class honours degree in Biochemistry, and also undertook detailed studies in Botany, Materia Medica, and Medicine through the National Institute for Medical Herbalists (NIMH) education program. He studied at Guys Hospital and at The Hospital for Natural Healing in London. He achieved the highest mark ever for the entrance examination to NIMH.”
In addition to helping thousands of patients at his busy clinic, the NIMH awarded him the rare Fellowship Diploma of the Institute in 1976 in recognition of his service to the profession. He also held many positions within NIMH, including serving as president from 1978-1982, as a NIMH Fellow, as chairman of the Board of Examiners (1972-1979), and as director of NIMH (1965-1990). He was also a member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy.2
“The Hydes, their clinic, and their educational work in the ’60s and ’70s were an essential initiator of the British equivalent of what Paul Lee has described as the ‘Herb Renaissance’,” said David Hoffmann, also a NIMH Fellow (e-mail to M. Blumenthal, February 14, 2014). “[Hyde] provided a real link to the physio-medicalist past and the modern realities of herbal practice.”
Simon Mills, who served as president of NIMH from 1983-1995, recalls Hyde as a “shrewd operator” (e-mail to M. Blumenthal, February 14, 2014) who used his leadership to navigate the politics of the 1980s, when new legislation threatened to restrict the ability to practice herbal medicine. Hyde’s father had helped frame the 1968 Medicines Act with an eye toward the protection of herbal practitioners. However, the European Community Review of Medicines called for renewed regulation and placed herbal products under intense scrutiny.3
During this reconstructive time, John Hyde remained focused on the key issues and insisted on the highest standards for the profession. He made many personal donations to NIMH and rented out the Royal Albert Hall, one of the most prestigious venues in the United Kingdom, for a fundraising concert on behalf of the Institute.
“His greatest contribution came when the modern profession of herbal practice was being recreated after decades of decline. The rebuild was comprehensive on the educational front led by [noted British herbal leader] Hein Zeylstra, with John taking his opportunity to lead the professional regulatory charge,” wrote Mills.
Beyond his professional accomplishments, friends and colleagues remember Hyde as a caring and generous man. He was well known for his excellent wit and ability to make people laugh. Mills said that during his time working with Hyde, meetings were “wonderful fun, mainly buoyed by John’s humour… he kept us in stitches when we needed light relief.” The joke of his resemblance to British comedian Eric Morcombe fed the laughter, but it never distracted Hyde from his mission of practicing and revitalizing his chosen profession.
Hyde’s dedication to herbalism as a practice and as a profession helped raise the standards for his successors and colleagues, as did his belief that herbalism had a valued place in daily civic life.
“John was one of the great warriors of our profession,” wrote Mills. “We note his passing with sorrow and also with respect, admiration, warm affection and many thanks.”
Hyde is survived by his wife Linda, his children Mark, Jane, and Rachel, and seven grandchildren. His family, friends, and colleagues celebrated his life on February 13 in Leicester, where warm tributes were led by Dr. Foster, whose eulogy spoke for many who had learned under John’s guidance and who assured all present that the legacy of knowledge and caring dedication John Hyde created would continue in the clinic that bears his name.4
- Owen D. Tributes paid to Leicester herbalist John Hyde. Leicester Mercury. February 12, 2014. Available at: www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Tributes-paid-herbalist-John-Hyde/story-20609751-detail/story.html. Accessed March 10, 2014.
- Medical herbalist practitioners. Hydes Herbal Clinic website. Available at: www.hydesherbalclinic.co.uk/Pract.htm#John Hyde. Accessed March 11, 2014.
- Legislation on herbal medicines. British Herbal Medicine Association website. Available at: http://bhma.info/index.php/legislation-on-herbal-medicines/. Accessed March 12, 2014.
- Main page. National Institute of Medical Herbalists website. Available at: www.nimh.org.uk/. Accessed March 11, 2014.