I haven’t been doing an herb of the week lately because I’ve been on vacation from my day job the past couple of weeks so I’ve been taking the time to make myself custom tea blends according to what I need each day. And because I’ve been making some custom medicinal tea blends for several folks and I like to spend time with them trying them out first.
All of which got me thinking about medicinal blending.
If I’m just deciding a blend for myself, I tend to be very free form – I’ll look over herbs and pause, then I’ll know what I need for the day. Once I’ve picked them I try to figure why I chose them and it almost always fits together beautifully. Today for example I was drinking a tea blend of nettles, burdock and lemon balm. The burdock was helpful for my liver still processing all the yummy Christmas treats, the lemon balm helped to uplift my spirits on this cloudy cold day, while the nettles helped nourish me in all I had to do today. There have been times when I wake up, and before even looking, I know what I need – like the week when I had wormwood and lavender which helped me work on some emotional and spiritual cleansing and change I needed at the time. This works because I not only know the herbs but also myself so I can almost instinctively choose. While when choosing for others, I would take a more careful process of considering the person’s condition, nature and situation to then make the best choices for them in the moment.
That’s a key point. Not every treatment, medicine, herb, etc. works for a 100% of the people 100% of the time. Even in scientific studies you’ll see that what is tested offers certain amount of improvement to certain number of people over some time but not everyone all the time. There are variations between individuals and types. There are different needs to be met according to their diet, physical activity and stress patterns in their life – which means the same individual will have differing needs over time. And what needs to be treated can vary with the same apparent symptom – consider the musing I had about diagnosis and the liver the other day or the different characteristics between types of headaches (future blog post to be sure) or even the contrast between a summer cold and a winter cold, just for some random examples.
Which brings me to a far too common reality – the generic medicinal tea and tincture blends for different conditions that you can buy almost any where nowadays. They tend to be a big mainstay of health food stores, herbal companies and some herbalists. There’s nothing terribly wrong about them, but I tend to think of them as being the fast food of the herbal world. Like fast food there can be things that make them food/medicine, but where fast food will often be loaded down with salt, fat, etc. in excessive combinations and quantities to cover up its failings as real food, some of the blends will have aromatics, pungent and other elements to give it the feel of “herbal” healing but the actual value can be debatable. But just like fast food can fill an empty stomach so can those generic blends help to a degree and in a pinch I go for them too! :-0
Just like having a well cooked meal, it is so much better to work with an herbalist to find what works best. They don’t have to rely of the flash/fast herbal elements, but instead can offer the real deal. But just like cooking, it is even better though learning to do it for yourself – which is what I like to do when I deal with folks. Help them out and teach them as well.
After exploring some of my own healing, I was thinking about connections in the body, illness and diagnosis of them. But let’s start with a riddle – so what can:
- Ringing in an ear
- Itch in one particular part of the foot
- Waking up regularly between 1- 3 AM
- Tendency to collapse on the left side in some asanas
have in common?
One answer is the liver.
Depending on the system of alternative medicine they can all be associated with the liver. But where you go from there is the interesting part to me.
There are those who see disparate symptoms like these and make a connection to a single cause and then treat that cause. And conversely others who would go after the individual symptoms while not looking at a possible connection.
I tend to think (keeping to the example above) that both are really needed. The liver may need help say through supporting and regulating herbs, but the liver’s need expressed itself in those ways because other systems had things that needed support and should be worked on too. (Like tight tendons in the foot needing massage, etc.)
That’s why I like reading a variety of healing arts perspectives (including contemporary Western medicine) I think it helps keep one’s perspective flexible and gives multiple approaches to a problem or set of problems.