Nicola Parker writes about finding a herbal hug, a sunny grass or the bitter truth
My brain is connected to be logical and focused on the solution.
I like to separate a problem, examine the cause and develop an action plan that allows me to get to the bottom of things.
Working with physical ailments, this is usually a satisfactory methodical process.
Working with emotional problems, my work becomes much more difficult.
Herbs for emotional problems fall into different categories.
Nerves are relaxing, sedatives are relaxing, antidepressants are edifying.
The problem is that many of these categories overlap and the research behind these herbs is still in diapers, which gives us just an idea of how they affect the brain.
If we add to this our poor understanding of mental health problems despite their increasing prevalence in the modern world, it is easy to see why the herbalist driven by logic can feel a bit lost.
I started discussing my struggle with older and more established herbalists, a few years after completing my training.
These herbalists had years of experience to turn to, as well as the benefit of the teachings of the herbalists who preceded them.
These herbalists did not have the luxury of the Internet during their training, there was no access to medical journals at the tips of their fingers.
Instead, their knowledge was based on a tradition that talked about the personality of herbs and what roles they can play when they act on our emotions.
St. John's wort is a classic example of how modern research now supports these traditional beliefs.
Herbalists describe St. John's wort as "the grass of the sun."
It has bright yellow flowers that know that the oil turns warm red when exposed to sunlight.
It is said to be edifying, capable of returning light to a bleak life.
Research has demonstrated the antidepressant properties of St. John's wort, supporting this traditional understanding.
It is said that St. John's wort brings sunlight to your life, but this may come in unexpected ways.
With light comes clarity, highlighting the dark corners of a person's life, revealing things that may be creating unhappiness. This could be a person, situation or event from our past or in our daily life,
The things that make us sad can become invisible once we allow them to become our "normalcy."
Of course, we could also attribute this to the antidepressant effect of the Herbs of St. John, since happier people are more likely to see things clearly, without the negative shadow that bad mood can generate.
Another herb to which herbalists have given personality is the rose. Known as "the herbal hug," the rose is traditionally used for pain, sadness and loss.
I use it in cases of discomfort or when I think someone has unresolved pain problems that they have never processed completely.
I always warn people before putting Rose in their medicine, since the effect of a hug from a good friend can often bring a lot of emotion to the surface.
I don't know about you, but a hug when I'm angry will always make me cry on the shoulder that has been offered to me, whether I like it or not.
I think it is healthy to let these tears out, but it is good to have a warning first that they will come.
In contrast to this, verbena is an herb associated with unresolved anger.
I think about it when I feel we need a friend to let off steam, get angry and get us out of any problems we have encountered. In traditional Chinese medicine, anger is stored in the liver and as a liver. Herb, Vervain works very well for digestive problems aggravated by this type of emotion.
As bitter, it can help us see "the bitter truth", allowing us to examine reality as it is so that we can put aside grudges and move on.
Knowing the personality of an herb through its traditional use has really helped me to know some of the less researched herbs. While I like my practice to be based on science, I am proud to see the amazing results I get when I have faith in the deep tradition behind the medications I use.
For more information or to book an appointment, contact Nicola at Health and Herbs, Pedder Street, Morecambe, at 01524 413733.