Updated: Mar 4, 2019
OK. So you've made some lovely tinctures. They're all displayed nicely on a shelf. Congrats!
"But LuAnn, what do I use them for?" is the most common question I'm asked by our local home herbalist group.
Great question! And a bit complicated to answer. And yet simple in a way.
Granted, there are some go-to herbs, such as elderberry for winter health support. Milky oats for nervous system support. Hawthorn for heart support. However, even these go-to herbs don't always "work" for every person or ailment.
It all comes down to matching the energetics of the plant to the energetics of the person/ailment/constitution in order to restore balance to the person. Sooo, what are "energetics"? The simple answer is that both people and plants tend toward different degrees of hot/cold and dry/damp. Rasalee de la Foret in her book, Alchemy of Herbs, gives a very good overview of these 4 basic energetics. Matthew Wood has several good books with a more in-depth explanation, particularly his book, The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism. And there are many, many online sources and other books that provide good information, so I am not going to go into depth here. No need to rewrite what others have already written about so well.
How do you know what a particular plant's energetics are? Some of it is obvious - cayenne is hot, as is turmeric. Mints tend to be cooling. Some aren't so obvious. Once again, there are many good books and online sources about plant energetics, so I'm giving myself permission to not try to write a blog post about a topic that would require pages and pages to address since others have done so.
What I will do is set up a category in the forum where I, and hopefully others, will share how specific herbs tend to work in real life. I'm gonna head over there now and start some conversations about prickly ash bark and white oak bark. Please join me in the conversation with any questions or tips on how you have used the herbs.