HERBS AND THE COSMOS: INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE HERBOLOGY
In order to understand the energetics of Chinese Herbal Medicine, one must first have a familiarity with the concept of Yin & Yang. The great principle of yin and yang is a law of the universe, which defines those polar opposite energies which lie at the root of all dynamic activity in the universe. These 2 forces (yin & yang), mutually govern and rule every single process on both a microcosmic and macrocosmic level.
Microcosmic activity may be related to those forces which exist within a being, whether a human, or animal. Macrocosmic activity may be related to those events, which occurs outside our bodies, in nature.
All phenomena within the universe are an expression of the harmonious (and sometimes disharmonious) interplay of yin and yang. Yin and Yang are usually never defined separately from each other. It is very difficult to define one event, or thing, as being yin or yang. All things have both yin and yang within them. And this certainly is the case with herbs.
When applied to a human being, the substantial or physical aspects, such as bones, blood, hair, skin, vessels, tendons are related to yin. In contrast, all functional activities in the body, such as digestion, absorption, metabolism, circulation, growth, protection (immune system), are related to yang.
Yin energies tend to be more descending and cooing, whereas yang energies tend to be more ascending and warming.
The combination of temperature, taste, and organ entered to form a profile of one single herb. This is comparable to a strain of DNA. An herb’s energetic identity is special and unique to only that herb, and all of its characteristics are considered in evaluating its physiological emotional, and spiritual effect upon the person consuming it.
There is usually one of five different temperatures designated to a single herb: Hot, cold, warm, cool, or neutral. And there are also varying degrees of cool and warm. Hot & warm tasting herbs have a yang function, while cold or cooling herbs is more yin in nature. Neutral herbs tend can be very useful since they are not limited to their taste, and can be used in many patterns of disharmony, regardless of yin and yang.
The taste of the medicinal ingredient or herb will dictate its energetic & physiological effect and movement throughout the body. The five tastes are: acrid, bitter, sweet, sour, and salty. Bland is a taste, which tends to be classified as mildly sweet. Most herbs will have a combination of tastes, creating a very specific dynamic in their action throughout the meridians in the body. And then combine its temperature, and this even creates more precision in its application.
Also, each herb is thought to be connected to specific meridians and organs throughout the body. Each herb enters specific organs throughout the body, and carries its temperature and tastes to those energetic systems directly.
All herbs have an energetic function, very much like people, food, colors, art, music. There is a spirit deeply rooted within the herb, which dictates its characteristics. This is important, as even after a deep understanding of the theories of Chinese Herbalism, one must be in tune to the subtle energies of the herb, and how this will resonate with the patient.
A skilled Chinese herbalist will take the gather all the information from the patient, take the patient’s pulse, with great focus and meditation, and based upon the energetic dynamics within all the organ systems, a formula, with a combination of herbs will be written specifically for the patient. The Doctor will draw from all his or her knowledge, intuition, and create a harmonious combination of herbs.
Please realize that one herb may be compared to one musical note in an opera. This is simply a fragment of the full experience. The combination of herbs in an herbal formula creates the full-scale composition, with crescendos, beats, and transitions, which go through a metamorphosis of movement. This is the same with a balanced herbal formula.
And very often, the formula is constantly fine-tuned with subtle changes in its ingredients and percentages, to maintain harmony and polarity with the patients’ energetic patterns as they are constantly shifting.
Consumption of a well-crafted and elegant herbal formula requires dedication by both the Doctor and the Patient. Within this experience is the potential for an extraordinary cycle of empowerment and healing.
The process tends to change our perception of both ourselves and the expanding universe we dwell in. And perhaps, we can begin to blend the microcosmic and macrocosmic forces together and feel whole.
For More in Depth Detail, Please read: “The Sheng Nong Ben Cao Jing: Reawakening the True Romance of Chinese Herbalism”, in the article section.