What are energetics in the world of herbalism? The term energetics can seem like a difficult and confusing concept. We tend to overthink it.
Basically, in herbalism, energetics is the answer to the question, "How are you feeling?" And to peel back the "How are you feeling?" question another layer: "What are you feeling in your body?" Additional questions might include:
- Are you experiencing chapped lips because the weather has changed from warm and humid to cool and dry?
- Are you sunburned after a day at the beach or on the ski slope?
- Do you have a blister from wearing new shoes?
All of these are examples of energetics. As Matthew Wood and Jim McDonald state, "Energetics is a process used to detect patterns and choose herbs that fit the patterns." There are six patterns of energetics (expressed in pairs):
- hot and cold
- dry and damp
- tense and lax.
If you have too much heat in your body, you will choose cooling herbs. If you are dry, choose moistening herbs. The key is to pair the herbs to what the person is feeling. Energetics is personalized and individualized. And, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Rosalee de la Forêt goes a step further and discusses thinking of energetics from a seasonal viewpoint. In the summer we want cooling foods and in the winter we want warming foods. This is energetics.
Experience energetics yourself. Try an experiment. Make a cup of your favorite tea or eat a bar of your favorite dark chocolate. Set aside some time where you can really focus on your energetics experiment. Open the bar of chocolate or steep the tea. Breathe the scent in deeply. What do you smell? Does it smell sweet? Bitter? Eat a small piece of chocolate or take a sip of your tea. Really savor it. Roll it around in your mouth. What does it taste like? How does your mouth feel? Is it moistening or does it make your tongue feel like eating an unripe banana? And finally, how does your body feel after eating it?
Are you energized? Tired? Does your body feel lighter? Heavier? This is energetics. I realize this is a simplified introduction to energetics and there is much more to learn about the nuances and various combinations a person can experience with the six patterns — hot and cold, dry and damp, and tense and lax states. Fortunately there are many resources available to take a deeper dive:
- Take a class: Rosalee de la Forêt's Herbal Jumpstart ecourse
- Read more: Jim McDonald's entertaining and educational book Foundational Herbcraft
- Experiment some more. Try some herbs and spices and see how they make you feel.
- Make some ginger tea
- Eat curry
- Take your favorite WishGarden Herbal Remedy
- Herbs For An Active Lifestyle
- Adaptogens and Exercise
- Schisandra: An Adaptogen Across Time
- A Father's Day Treat: Adaptogenic Energy Bites
- Herbs & Lifestyle Strategies for Managing Stress
Sandy Morehouse is a functional herbalist and educator with WishGarden Herbs. She is based in Northwest Arkansas and spreads the herb love to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. She received her functional herbalist certification from Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine; certificate from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Medicine Making; and is continuing her education with Aviva Romm's Herbal Medicine for Women course.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.