This is Why Your Herbs Aren't Working
Picture this: you and your friend are both dealing with chronic, nagging headaches. You both want to try to stop relying on pain medicine all the time, and so start looking into natural alternatives. You both read about a specific herb that is supposed to remedy headaches. You both try said herb, and...it works amazingly well for your friend! For you, it doesn't work at all.
Or maybe you go to a natural health practitioner who recommends some herbs for your digestive issues. She says they will help with your gut problems, but they don't. In fact, you feel like they are making your bloating WORSE. What gives?!
For some of you reading this, these may not even be hypothetical scenarios...and if you've been here, it is so frustrating when this happens! However, there's a reason it happens...and a solution!
Curious? Excited? Hopeful? Keep reading...
In herbal medicine, we believe plants aren't just plants...they're living things. They are alive, and have living energy within them. Considering this, it's easy to understand how a specific plant may work for one person, but not for another. Herbal medicine is just as much energetic as it is physical.
It's not enough to just say "this herb is good for headaches." Herbs are specific, meaning that, sure, that herb may be good for headaches...but only headaches that start after eating a fatty meal, or headaches that originate at the base of the skull. This specificity of an herb's affinity is termed just that in herbal medicine: a specific indication. Homeopathy, which uses extremely dilute potencies of a "mother tincture" (always an herb or natural compound from the earth/animal kingdom) has beautifully preserved these specific indications for remedies. But as herbal medicine has become increasingly westernized and modernized (and, in all honesty, popularized), it has sadly lost much of this...except for among true herbalists. There is a growing temptation to forego looking at herbal energetics, and only consider herbal actions, or the pharmacology of an herb. This is dangerous territory. Why? Well, first, it ushers us into looking at herbs like drugs: compounds that do this for that and fix this with that. That's not how herbs work. Like I said, herbs are alive: and just like you and I, there are facets to herbs (energetic facets) that have not yet been discovered. Many of the benefits of an herb lie not in its pharmacology, but in its energy.
Many of the benefits of an herb lie not in its pharmacology, but in its energy. - Dr. Anna
Similarly, true herbalists often talk about "constitutions" or "constitutional remedies" (as they should...if a natural health practitioner-and especially an herbalist-does NOT mention constitution, GO SEE SOMEONE ELSE!). Constitutional remedies are, in essence, a person's own personal herb. That herb is their "Cinderella slipper," and just fits them: body, mind, spirit, and soul. There are "person profiles" for each herb, some of which we are still discovering in the plant world. However, much of this herbal matchmaking magic is already known.
To give an example of how powerful a constitutional remedy can be for someone, here's another hypothetical scenario:
Jane goes to her herbalist complaining of lower back pain. Her herbalist asks her a bucketload of questions, looks at Jane's eyes, tongue, and fingernails, and takes Jane's pulse. After an hour of observations and questions, Jane's herbalist sends her home with an herb that's commonly thought to be good for poison ivy. HUH?!
Did Jane's herbalist screw up? Nope. She gave Jane her constitutional remedy. See, there's a big misunderstanding about herbs in the mainstream natural health media, and that is the thought that "one herb is only good for one thing." For instance, "valerian is good for sleep" (it's actually not the best sleep remedy, and can even CAUSE insomnia in some, but I digress...). Valerian CAN be good for sleep, yes. That is one of it's functions. However, valerian can also be good for tense muscles, a nervous stomach, and anxiety. Additionally, there is, what we herbalists call "a valerian person": a person who, regardless of their specific symptoms, will benefit from valerian, because valerian fits their constitution. When you find and take your constitutional remedy, that plant will help YOU AS A PERSON, instead of just treating a symptom. And it doesn't matter what the plant is "thought" to be good for, because it's helping you as a whole, thereby helping all of the issues you are dealing with at any given moment. Remember, symptoms aren't the real problem...they are red flags pointing to a problem within the body. By addressing the body imbalance on a root-cause level, the symptoms go away.
Herbal medicine is just as much energetic as it is physical. - Dr. Anna