Milena Moore has been practising as a herbalist in Kent since 2004, and in her slender shop in West Street since December 2014. The cream-painted home of Apotheca (the emphasis is on the ‘o’, as in Apothecary, from which its name derives), fits snugly between more imposing neighbours. It is a modest 2 m 80 cm wide, with a single window per storey, crowned with a tiny attic window at the top. The shop is on the ground floor, and the sash window at the front has a sparse but exquisite window display designed to draw the passer-by inside.
On old chemist’s display shelves stand glass bottles of dried herbs, tinctures, ointments and powders. Bespoke treatments are made up – ‘whatever suits the patient best’. Preparation takes a while and patients like to watch. This is the herbal dispensary, separated from the other side of the shop by a central unit, gently lit and perfumed by sweet-smelling candles. Here are natural beauty products, essential oils, supplements, natural skin care and Apotheca’s own teas.
Milena was born in Montana in the United States and brought up mainly in France (her father is American and her mother French). As a child she wanted to be a doctor or surgeon. She observed, however, that the doctors who treated her skin condition invariably prescribed only topical ointments. She came across a book on herbalism and learnt that this offered a more holistic approach. ‘It is our traditional form of medicine, which predates modern medicine’, she explains, ‘and 85 per cent of the world’s population still relies on it’.
Milena later came to London – ‘England is one of the best places in the Western world to study herbal medicine’, she says – and studied for a four-year science degree at the University of Westminster, where she gained a BSc Hons in Herbal Medicine, which she defines as ‘the use of plant extracts to heal, combined with understanding the human body, patient’s lifestyle and diet’.
‘It is a fascinating field to work in’, she says. ‘No two patients are the same, even patients who both have eczema, for example. It’s literally playing detective, finding out what happened and when the problem started. A body doesn’t go wrong randomly. Often there is a rhyme or reason, if one is listening carefully.’ Milena believes that allopathic medicine works well for acute problems, but herbalism comes into its own for chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, where there may be a collection of symptoms.
Two small consulting rooms make it possible for practitioners of other therapies to offer a range of treatments, from osteopathy, reflexology and acupuncture to homeopathy and deep tissue massage. ‘People use Apotheca as a one-stop shop’, says Milena. ‘Certain therapies suit certain problems, but the consumer may not know that and may not know where to turn. We can direct them.’ Apotheca will celebrate its second birthday in its present premises in December. It is an elegant addition to Faversham’s growing band of beautiful and useful specialist shops.
No 14 Apotheca Health
14 West Street
Faversham ME13 7JE
Text: Sarah. Photography: Lisa