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 concentration of the anima, or vital force, in the body. All symptoms are variable depending upon the individual, and it’s usually most helpful to look for patterns rather that isolated symptoms which can sometime appear contradictory and thus confusing.
A long period of excess type illnesses can result in eventual deficiency due to the restriction and blockage of the anima, a condition that can drain and burn up vital force. Thus, it is very important to address excess conditions carefully and quickly and assist the body in restoring native equilibrium. Deficiency conditions can in severe cases result in long-term systemic weakness, fragility and sometimes death. When observing an individual to ascertain the level of deficiency and excess, remember to note whether the current state of being is long-term or recent, because some acute illnesses can initially impersonate an excess constitutional condition.
Keep in mind that deficiency and excess are only one aspect of several primary energetic spectrums that should all be looked at in relation to each other. If neither excess or deficiency is apparent in the individual, move on to another energetic spectrum. Subtle constitutional imbalances may be more noticeable if you come back to deficiency and excess at the end of your assessment.
Deficiency occurs when the vital force has been used up or drained by illness, inappropriate lifestyle practices, substance abuse or other misuse of the energetic stores of the body. Deficiency of vital force in the body can result in fragility, weakness, chronic disease, sensations of coldness and hypoimmunity, a lack of tongue coating, lack of desire to move or participate in normal activities, and a general sense of the life force receding from the person.
Excess conditions often occur where a blockage of the vital force causes a buildup or misdirection of the energy. This can result in feelings of heat, pressure and oppression in the chest or gut, restlessness, irritation, aggressive behavior, hyperimmunity, systemic inflammation and a general sense of frustrated or bound up energy.
Possible Signs of Excess Conditions
- Discomfort worse with pressure
- Discomfort worse with heat
- Desires cold substances
- Aggressive manner
- Strong or bounding pulse
- Thick tongue coat
- Restless, agitated
Possible Signs of Deficiency Conditions
- Pale or pale with malar flush
- Discomfort better with pressure
- Discomfort better with heat
- Desires warm substances
- Weak or faint, erratic pulse
- Little or no tongue coat, cracked or raw looking tongue surface
- Tired, inactive, lethargic