Feb 132011
Reading the Terrain: Understanding Tissue States

At the core of how I practice herbalism are two elements. The first is my personal relationship with the herbs, and my intense adoration of both plants and fungi (and lichen, I might add). The second is the sensory and common sense approach I take to working with both herbs and humans. I teach herbal […]

Oct 172010
Terms of the Trade: Herbal Energetics

Defining Herbal Energetics Herbal energetics are generally defined as a framework of understandings of how to best match herbs to the individual and/or situation. Spectrums (such as cool/warm) and properties (such as astringent) are associated with herbs based on our observation of their effect on the body. For example, when we choose the moistening, mucilaginous […]

Dec 222009
Terms of the Trade: Excess and Deficiency

Herbal energetics and human constitutions are predicated upon specific underlying concepts, including the spectrums of hot/cold, dry/moist, relaxation/stimulation and deficiency/excess. Herbal and dietary therapeutics will vary a great deal depending where the individual currently resides within these spectrums. Deficiency and excess are a primary energetic spectrum and are defined in relation to the flow and […]

Jul 262009
Terms of the Trade: Stimulating & Relaxing

Preamble: The Sensory Continuum in Herbal Energetics Before you can even begin to understand energetic terms like stimulating and relaxing, cooling and heating, moistening and drying, you need to realize that we are not speaking in terms of dichotomous polarities. Rather that viewing different herbs and herbal actions as opposites, realize they are actually dynamic […]

May 152009
Terms of the Trade: An Introduction to Herbal Actions

Herbal actions — it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting or sexy as botanical monographs or the latest cure-all, does it? I’m aware that a fair number of beginning and intermediate herbalists tend to gloss over this particular subject, probably in part because of the typically vague and boring explanations given in many books and classes. […]

Feb 052009
Terms of the Trade: Adaptogen

This is still a fairly controversial term among the herbal community, especially with the more grass-roots practitioners. Not all of us feel that it is useful as an action or category because it artificially lumps together herbs from several other classes in what is essentially a scientifically created box. I don’t personally categorize herbs this […]

Dec 252008

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: from Latin demulcent– ‘stroking caressingly,’ Demulcents are herbs that contain noticeable amounts of a carbohydrate (a polysaccharide, actually) called mucilage that moistens, cools heat, lessens inflammation and often stimulates local immune response. It was once thought that demulcents could only effect the surfaces they came in contact with, but it is […]

Dec 202008

Aromatics are easy to spot. Their strong signature aromas and tastes are dead giveaways. In fact – technically- aromatic is a taste, not an action. The proper action here should likely be labeled carminative (aromatic digestive herbs, generally). However, this action seems to have gotten pigeon-holed as only those herbs which release gas, and that’s […]

Mar 192008

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to those Alterative differentials I promised sometime in the near future. For now let’s deal with an often misunderstood herbal action: astringency. In the most physical sense, astringents are those substances that tighten tissues on contact, resulting in that puckery mouth feeling so familiar to anyone who’s ever bitten into […]

Feb 042008

In the simplest sense, alteratives are those herbs that restore function to the body by way of the metabolism, through increasing both eliminative functions and also through increasing the absorption of nutrients. While they effect the entire metabolism, they can be said to especially effect the kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, bowels and lymphatic system. Alteratives […]

Jan 232008

In the process of becoming familiar with herbalism, it’s easy to feel confused by jargon that, while clearly obvious to those using it, tends towards being something of an insider’s tongue. This can cause beginners to feel alienated from group discussion that could be educational and intimidated by what should be common sense concepts. Because […]