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Have you ever talked with someone who thought that herbs didn’t work because they did little for them despite all their hype? Or have you ever taken (or given) an herb and you (or the person) not only didn’t improve but got worse? I have some friends who refused to take herbal advice because herbs “do not work for them”.
Herbs do work! In fact, they are the basis of medicine and the creative force for healing. The reason for the bad or unresolved experiences may actually be simple – the energy of the herb was not matched to that of the person or the condition experienced and so it wasn’t effective.
However, herbs can also not work. When a “fad” is going around (like a flu virus) everyone seems to catch it. It doesn’t work that way!
The energy of herbs is extremely important to consider when choosing herbs. Some herbs are cooling, others warming; some are drying, others moistening. Some drain while others build.
Like plants, people have energetic constitutions, too. Some folks have coldness, or heat; others dryness or dampness. Some have an excess state (too much of something – think about how you feel after eating too big of a meal for example). Other people are weak, deficient, or depleted. These should be primary considerations when choosing personalized herbs for healing.
Herbs you choose depends not only on its own energies but also that of the person taking the herb. If the person has a condition of coldness, for instance, they need herbs with a heating energy. If they are dry, they need moistening herbs. And if they’re weak, they need herbs that build strength, immunity, or blood. If herbs are not energetically matched to the person in this way, either they’ll have no results or else problems can arise.
For example, when I mention the herb, turmeric, what first comes to mind? That it’s great for pain and inflammation? That is true, but for some it actually might make you dizzy instead. How about maca? Think it’s mainly great for hormones? Think again. It may help some but others might experience no benefit at all. And how about feverfew? Use it for headaches? It might work, but it only treats one type of headache. Since there are as many as five or more causes for headaches, each requires a different herbal energy and feverfew may not match that. If someone is weak, tired, or perhaps even anemic, you wouldn’t want to give them elimination therapies as those would only weaken them further.
We need to be careful with herbs because sometimes it can be like be like adding more cars to rush hour traffic.
I learned the importance of the energy of herbs very early when I first started using herbs. Like many beginner herbalists, I began with the typical allopathic approach, that is, “this herb is good for that condition.” We call this looking at the “actions” of the herbs. This is a good study, but it is only a small part of true herbal healing.
One day I got a very bad flu. Someone recommended garlic, so I took garlic. I got much worse. I was curious why and soon learned that my flu was a condition of heat (high fever, sweating, feeling hot) and garlic itself is a heating herb. Taking garlic meant I only got hotter and my symptoms intensified.
Let’s take turmeric again as another example since it’s such a popular herb today. Because it’s the best anti-inflammatory available to forestall heart and brain problems and to treat pain, many people consume it regularly. Turmeric helps some folks, others actually have reactions they don’t even realize occurred because of the turmeric. This is because turmeric is warming and drying in energy. That means it’s perfect for folks who have pain and swelling from heat and dampness such as heavy, swollen joints, yellowish and smelly diarrhea, urinary tract infections with pain and even bleeding, herpes, or yellow leukorrhea for example. But those who have dryness, anemia, with such symptoms as dry cough, stools, skin, mouth or nails, dizziness, blurry vision, night sweats or heat flushes, can get worse since the cooling, drying turmeric only depletes these substances more. If taken for extended periods or overdosed, it can lead to insomnia, burning in the hands and feet, hypertension, or heart palpitations, for starters.
Note: Turmeric tubers cooling while turmeric rhizome is heating. Both promote the Blood flow, but the rhizome treats painful obstruction (arthritic conditions) while the tuber does not. Both herbs relieve gall bladder jaundice, but the tuber is stronger than the rhizome. Turmeric found in the grocery store is probably the rhizome.
Each herb has specific energies that determine its true use.
Start observing the energy of herbs and the conditions they treat rather than using one herb for a specific condition. Giving herbs allopathically and based on on “actions” of herbs regardless of the energy of the herb or the person taking it is what causes others to believe that herbs don’t work. Even worse, it gives herbs a bad rap. Learn to use herbs energetically and you’ll more efficiently and effectively experience the wonder of herbs and their healing powers.
I have created a simple way to formulate herbs and create a synergistic formula that corresponds to the person and the energies.
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