Getting to talk about energy and our relationship to nature and the cosmos may be the coolest thing about teaching Chinese medicine classes. I spent the last two days at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism talking to students about the dynamic relationship between yin and yang that is necessary to create and sustain life. We discussed ethereal concepts like qi (vital life force energy), jing (essence) and shen (spirit) and how to choose herbal medicines based on their energetic properties.
In Chinese herbalism, the taste of herbal substances is what determines its therapeutic action. Five Element theory tells us each element has numerous correspondences, including a taste. In this weeks episode of The Herb Walk Podcast, I talk about Chinese herbal energetics and the importance of choosing the right herb for a person’s constitution. Just like all Chinese medicine practitioners, I also mention poo quite a bit and how it relates to the health of our digestive system.
I hope you enjoy this episode and learn some fun information about why loose stools happen. Please Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast so you never miss an episode! And if I can ask a favor- to please post a review wherever you listen to podcasts. It would really help me out!
Yesterday I taught the Vitalist Chinese Medicine class at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, as I have for the third year in a row. I just have to say how much I Love teaching about qi, the vital life force energy that encompasses all of life; transcending time and space; and taking herbs that help you propel your life forward. I mean how cool is it that I get to talk like that. And have people take me seriously! Even after I have them stick out their tongues at each other!
I love that so many people, including herbalists, are getting excited about Chinese medicine. I have heard more and more Western herbalists dappling with the concepts of Chinese medicine. And I think that’s awesome. I also find it concerning, because although there is a vague grasp of the theories, there is a deficit in understanding how to correctly diagnose the patterns that are causing the imbalances within the body. Giving or recommending an herb without the correct diagnosis can at best, kinda work, and at worst, exacerbate a condition instead of improving it.
I have clients come to me all the time telling me that they were given an herb or formula that either didn’t work or made their symptoms worse. It is usually because of two reasons:
The client wasn’t compliant with the timing and doses given OR
It was the wrong herb or formula based on their constitution and the root of the problem.
Chinese medicine shines in the ability to accurately diagnose patterns and get to the root of the disease. A lot Western herbal practitioners did not learn diagnostic skills, and therefore treat symptoms instead of addressing the cause of the disease. I noticed I lacked the ability to diagnose these patterns until I went to Chinese medicine school and spent years learning the nuances of the medicine.
Many Western herbal teachers are now teaching how to properly diagnose patterns that manifest in the body, but the information is slow to catch up with many herbalists. Most herbs are completely safe so not having the correct herb for someone usually does no harm. What it does do is perpetuate the thought that herbs don’t work. And we know that is not true! If you are an herbalist that works clinically, I urge you to please find a teacher that will guide you in the art and science of pattern diagnosis. If you want to find a reputable herb school or a registered herbalist to work with, check out The American Herbalists Guild directory (you’ll find me there!).
This week’s interview on The Herb Walk Podcast is with Lisa Ganora!
Lisa began studying herbs in the Wise Woman Tradition back in 1986 and fell profoundly in love with medicinal plants and natural healing. While studying wildcrafting and medicine-making with traditional herbalists from New England to the Appalachian Mountains for ten years, she began creating herbal products and traveled the festival circuit with an herb booth and as a workshop presenter.
In 1997 Lisa decided to study botany, chemistry, and health sciences at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and graduated with highest honors and several awards. Lisa combines a deep understanding of traditional, Vitalist herbalism with a scientifically-integrated and holistic approach to natural health.
In addition to directing CSCH, Lisa is also an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacognosy at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, and has lectured and taught classes at numerous schools and conferences around the U.S. She is the author of Herbal Constituents, the standard textbook of phytochemistry for herbalists.
I hope you enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast. Download on iTunes and Stitcher today!