One of the things that drew me to herbalism is the concept of connection. We are all connected, we are connected to our Creator, to each other and to the creation around us.
When I go to the doctor, I don’t feel connected. I feel like part of a mass-production line that hands out remedies of the same sort to everyone regardless of who they are or how they are constructed. It’s more of a disconnect than anything else. My doctor hardly knows me. The questions he asks pertain only to immediate and acute symptoms and how to resolve them. (Please know that I encourage you to go to the doctor whenever you need to. If you ever are concerned about your health, please see a doctor.)
When I am in nature, in my garden or the forest behind my home, I feel connected to who I really am. When I dig in the soil, the crumbling loam slipping between my fingers, I feel the circle closing and I feel more sure of my place in this world. When I have a malady, I plant a seed, I watch it grow and care for it, then harvest it and process it using it as medicine to remedy my ailment and support the systems of my body and this makes me feel connected and empowered.
Seeing clients and consulting with them is a long process. It’s not just about their current acute symptoms, it is about who they are, their past that brings them here and now to this place and set of circumstances. It’s about how they have been created, uniquely and purposefully. A couple of hours and many questions later, I have a picture of who this person is. We have made a connection. Then comes the fun part: connecting them to a plant.
Not all plants are the same, just as not all humans are the same. Some plants work well for some people while the same plant will not work for someone else, even though they suffer from the same issue.
How can we match the correct plant to the person?
We all know that ginger helps nausea. And, we know that ginger is spicy and makes us feel warm inside. For someone who is generally cold and in need of warming up, ginger might just be the best thing ever. For someone who is overheated, who is normally the hottest, sweatiest person in the room, ginger might make things worse, so cooling peppermint might be a better choice.
According to Rosalee de la Foret:
“Herbalists assess both people and plants in terms of four qualities with the goal of supporting health by nurturing energetic balance. If someone is hot, we will use cooling herbs. If someone has excess dryness, we will use moistening herbs. This might sound strange at first, but once you get it, you’ll see that you’ve long perceived energetics in your life without knowing that’s what it was. Can you think of people in your life who tend to be hotter by nature? Do you know someone who wears a heavy coat, scarf, and hat when others need only a light jacket? Have you ever met someone who has dry skin and needs to constantly slather on lotion and cream? This is due to their different energetics.”
Each one of us can identify our natural constitutional energetics. A few simple questions can guide us, for example:
Do you tend to feel warmer or colder than others?
Does your face tend to be pale or flushed?
Are you an active person or less active?
Do you sweat easily?
Is your skin dry and rough?
Do you have itchy skin?
Do you prefer dry climates?
If we can agree that a cucumber is moist and cooling while a chili pepper is hot and drying then maybe we can see that we each have a unique combination of Hot, Dry, Cold and Damp, plants and humans alike.
The idea is to bring our body into balance. By using herbs of a complementary or opposite energetic, we can achieve that balance and bring health to our systems.
We will investigate together these plant energetics to help uncover the best plants to use for each of our unique constitutions. To help us feel more connected to ourselves and the plants which have been given to us to help us and heal us.
I really like this chart for some basic herbal energetics.