Meet Anatomē: The Modern Apothecary

Meet Anatomē: The Modern Apothecary
Anatomé enhances modern lifestyles by supporting sleep, movement, focus, hormonal health and creativity, using plant-based formulations and wellbeing practices inspired by the apothecaries of the past.

Founder of Anatomē Brendan Murdock, along with co-author Gabriel Weil, has recently released The Modern Apothecary, focusing on holistic health and happiness using the 5 pillars of wellness – Sleep, Balance, Movement, Focus and Diet. Having had a relaunch and redesign, the new Anatomē sleep range has been re-formulated to target 3 core sleep challenges using aromachology – the power of scent to transform our sleep.

Focusing on common concerns such as stress, poor gut health and insomnia, the accompanying book also spotlights some of today’s wellbeing “villains”, such as workplace anxiety and excessive screen time. Brendan and Gabriel traverse the realms of wellbeing, from Jane Fonda’s 80s workouts to Madonna’s yoga influence and ancient Greek medicine; as well as delving into the evolution of the apothecary trade, the history of sleep, and ancient Chinese recipes.

Despite scientific leaps, it illuminates a timeless truth: our fundamental wellbeing needs are mostly unchanged, persisting throughout the ages. Similarly, Brendan’s passion for sharing luxury self-care and proven practices with a discerning audience, both in-store and beyond, continues to be infectious.


Why are you passionate about the wellbeing space?

I think that scent can transform and elevate our well-being – that for me was the starting point, but building from that, there are so many extracts and botanicals that compliment and anchor a healthy lifestyle, which is why I created Anatomē: a modern apothecary to support wellbeing.


How did you meet co-author Gabriel Weil?

Gabriel and I met a few years ago and we have a shared passion for wellbeing. I greatly admired Gabriel’s ability to understand a brand’s purpose and translate that into the stories we need to communicate. Gabriel felt it was important to reconcile the past with the present, after all wellbeing is not a new concept, but we perhaps give it more attention today. We have a strong partnership in re-telling these stories.


The book mentions today’s wellbeing “villains” – how have these changed throughout history?

I don’t think it’s sustainable to live life in a manner where we feel bad or guilty – we like to drink sometimes, eat fries or a burger, but the key is in moderation. At Anaotmē we do not advocate for living a life that is so aspirational as to be unattainable. Enjoy a delicious steak, perhaps dance the night away after one too many drinks, but do this in moderation and balance it with a strong mindset.


The book also covers the history of the apothecary and ancient Greek medicine, what are some timeless insights from these worlds that are still relevant today?

Extracts such as frankincense have had an important role in ancient civilisations, from the greeks through to the age of enlightenment. We also explore the historical context of bathing and sleep practices. I also love the kitchen gardens common to the past – including those tended to by monks, providing natural botanical extracts to support wellbeing, immunity, sleep and recovery.


“Thinking for yourself and making informed choices rather than following trends is crucial” – how do you fundamentally discern between fact and fiction?

I think we need to read, explore, and listen more. Overall it’s being able to connect within yourself by leveraging a mindset shift: going for that run in the morning or taking that walk which is 10 minutes longer than the usual route, and carving out space and time to be with nature. Spending more time with loved ones and allowing the family to come together and contribute to meal times, this is what being well is about and this simplicity translates into happiness.


What do you predict for wellness in 2024 / 2025?

People are taking more of an interest in things like mood and sleep. I can see people pulling back from social media, they are being more disciplined, we need to take time to be still, to be quiet and to read. I object to a phone worn across the body as a handbag; it should be in a pocket or handbag away from the body. We need to distance ourselves from over-absorption with a digital world, and I can see this intention taking shape.


When it comes to the evolution of health and wellbeing, we have a very medicalised and pharmaceutical-driven approach to health. Where do herbal approaches sit in today’s world, and what is their relationship to the modern evidence-base?

In Europe the apothecary is alive and well, from Rome to Vienna, but in England and America I feel this is less so. We all need to be aware of the benefits of certain remedies and the power of nature to look after our wellbeing. And outside that – music, literature, movement, all these elements that stimulate our senses. The evidence-base is coming through, and there are more studies on the power of things like nootropics to support brain function, or chamomile in sleep, and the power of music for relaxation etc. It is expensive to develop research so we are also dependent on foundations and individuals to develop knowledge in these areas.


Do you feel that approaches to wellbeing changed after the pandemic?

Definitely. People are so much more aware of self-care, how to sleep better, eat and move better, but it’s not just about the pandemic – for many it is a reaction to the intrusion of the digital age and we must embrace that social media is a powerful force to educate and engage, when it is not just a pointless distraction. More succinctly, people have spent more time cooking, developing their diet, sleeping and engaging in practices at home. This has allowed them to adjust their mindsets, become more aware of mental health, and harness a much broader awareness of life. Mindset is everything, and that is what we want you to take away from the book.


Tell us a little more about aromachology and how you became interested in this?

I spent a lot of time creating perfumes and colognes for Murdock London and its clients;  I loved creating parfum, exploring the nuances of scent, its origin, and how it is grown; each botanical has inherent benefits. Aromachology is about a scents power to impact mood / behaviour, and sleep. It is a science-based approach to scent that is getting more traction.


As burnout can be familiar to founders, how do you take care of your own psycho-spiritual and emotional health needs?

As well as being tough sometimes, it is also immensely rewarding, so a complete mix of emotions. I live near Regents Park, so I love to run in the early mornings; it’s a blessing to see London in front of me each day, along with the greenery of the park. I grew up in Ireland, so I’m very aware of the need to be in nature. Hopefully, as Anatomē grows, I will get to travel and explore the world more with work. It would be exciting to see the locations where our botanicals are grown, as well as all the stores that sell our products.


What are some of your favourite books or podcasts?

I love Irish writers like Colm Tobin. I read the FT every Saturday and I value that quiet time with a coffee. I also like the How I Built This America podcast on entrepreneurship, and I frequently delve into Monocle Radio.


What is your opinion on psychoactive plant medicines as tools for living in alignment (cannabis / ayahuasca / psilocybin)?

I think everything has its place. I’m interested in the power of nootropics to support our wellbeing but I’ve not really become engaged with things like CBD. There are so many botanicals that benefit us such as Roman chamomile and Somali frankincense – which are all equally important and transformative ingredients.


What does spirituality mean to you?

I’m not religious as such, I believe you nurture your senses – I love music, the opera, delicious cooking, the coast, and the mountains; that is what wellbeing means to me. I also think it’s important to challenge oneself; being challenged means we thrive and grow.