AFTER years of living with an ongoing health problem, Luzia Barclay was at the end of her tether.

Suspecting she had become immune to the antibiotics she'd taken for so long, she decided something had to change.

She turned to herbal medicine and was so impressed by the results that she wanted to learn more. Eight years on Luzia runs her own workshops teaching others about the powers of herbs.

"I was a teacher and when my youngest daughter went to school I thought Why not learn it properly?' When I finished after six years I thought I have to practise it'. When I'm convinced about something I need to teach other people."

Luzia runs courses at Kingston Maurward College, as well as from her home in the village of Turnworth, between Winterbourne Stickland and Okeford Fitzpaine, where participants learn how to make their own creams and tinctures.

She also offers consultation sessions and herbal medication for those suffering from a whole range of ailments who want to try a more natural remedy than pharmaceutical drugs.

"I have no doubt that they work," she said. "If I had four people with migraine or headache, the consultation would aim to look for the cause. Each time it would be a different cause - it could be high blood pressure, it could be constipation.

"So with the herbal medicine you would mix for the specific cause - you don't just treat the symptoms. You need to look for the cause and then treat the cause.

"That's sometimes obvious, but sometimes it's very difficult to look for the cause. Most people wouldn't think that a sluggish liver could be the cause of a headache, it's not obvious.

"But the holistic approach is that you ask for all sorts of symptoms and hopefully find and treat the cause.

Luzia grew up in Southern Germany, near the Black Forest, later moving to France, and then England, with her family.

She said the UK was way behind other countries when it came to using herbs for medication.

"On the continent herbs are used a lot. Lots of GPs use them, it's a much more normal thing. When my dad was 90 the only medication he was on was herbal, and that was from his GP.

"In the UK it's growing, because lots of people suffer side-effects from medication. Then people have to have medication for the side-effects. These medications are, in the long-term, toxic to the liver.

"Lots of people look for an alternative. But they think something like nettle or dandelion is a weed, so how can it be any good?

"Dandelion is a very potent diuretic, but people also get potassium from it, which they would lose if they took a pharmaceutical diuretic.

"There are herbs that have side-effects if you take the wrong dosage though, the dosage is very important."

It's the UK's reluctance to try alternative remedies which Luzia believes has led to a surge in superbugs such as MRSA.

"With the overuse of antibiotics we are really suffering with superbugs," she said. "We've created it by using antibiotics too much - the bacteria become resistant. Whenever I have someone who has to go to hospital they ask me what they can take to stop getting MRSA - people are frightened.

"The best thing would be to just use antibiotics when there's a life-threatening condition so that we slow down the development of a resistance to bacteria."

Of course there are some ailments herbs cannot cure. But Luzia said herbal medication could still be used to treat symptoms, and as a preventative measure.

"Herbs work best when they're used as early as possible. We develop cancer cells every day, every hour. But our immune system is always on the lookout for mutated cells so if the immune system is strong it clears out the cancer cells.

"If people would use herbs early, it strengthens the immune system. I find it frustrating that a lot of people forget they're out there.

"Herbs are free - if you're prone to a condition you can grow the herbs and make your own medicine. People need to be more open-minded about it and then just try it."

l To find out more about Luzia's work and courses, visit herbsfor