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Hi, pod fam! 

You all know What’s the Juice covers a ton of topics—from health and wellness to astrology and mysticism and so much more. I LOVE all of these convos, but it’s an extra special treat when I really get to nerd out about herbs with a guest. Seriously—the ~vibes~ are immaculate when two herbalists get to talking. And let me tell you—this week’s guest, Clinical Herbalist and educator Kelsey Barrett is SUCH a vibe.

If you take one thing away from this ep, it’ll be the knowledge that herbalism is so innately personal. We’re talking about some of the ways to know which herbs are right for you, from energetics to tissue states to our own ancestral and geographical connections to herbs. Let’s get juicy!

Let’s get personal…with herbs.

There’s so much power in herbs—on their own or within carefully developed formulas. But there’s something to be said for herbs or formulas that are developed or chosen especially for you. It’s like shopping for a pair of pants: you can go into a store and find a pair of pants that fit you perfectly, and tons of other people will find a perfect fit in that same pair of pants. But a tailored or custom-made pair of pants will fit you like nothing else on the market. 

That’s the differentiator between herbalism and clinical herbalism—which is what Kelsey practices. “True clinical herbalism is not about formulas,” she says. “It’s about making these precise formulas for your body.” There’s an art to it—and a science as well, if you know what to look for.

So, how can you tell if an herb will benefit YOU?

Herbalists—and all of us!—can use many different methods to determine if an herb might be effective for you and your concerns. These include tissue states, energetics, intuition, ancestral connections, and even just taste preferences. Let’s dig into these! 

Tissue States 

Your body—when everything is functioning normally and when something is off—will have definable properties, which are what herbalists know as “tissue states.” These are:

  • Hot 
  • Cold
  • Wet
  • Dry
  • Tense
  • Flaccid 

Most of these are self-explanatory and can be used to describe any number of internal or external states. Want to get a feel for what your current tissue states are? Here’s an exercise from Kelsey: 

Close your eyes. Feel your body. How does it feel to be in your body? Do you feel hot or cold? Are the tips of your hands when you touch them? Are they clammy? Do they feel dry? Does it feel like you’re touching and brushing your fingertips along your skin? Does it feel like you’re touching paper? Or does it feel moist? touch the tip of your nose. Is it cold or is it hot? These are very simple indications of hot, cold, wet, dry.

Energetics 

Here’s the fun thing about herbs—they all have energetics that balance out the tissue states we feel in our bodies. If you’re feeling an excess of heat, an herb with a cooling energy/cooling properties can help alleviate that heat. Here are some examples of how to balance tissue states by considering the energetics of herbs:

  • Dry & Hot example:
    • This might look like: tension in your shoulders or being quick-tempered
    • Balance with cooling/damp (soothing) herbs, like marshmallow or hibiscus
  • Damp & Cold example:
    • This might look like: feeling bogged down or having a low mood
    • Stimulate with Chai or other warming herbs to nourish + move moisture/fluid in body
  • Dry & Damp example:
    • This might look like: feeling dry in one area and wet in another (dry in intestinal tract; under-functioning digestion)
    • You might moisturize with calendula so cells can absorb water, while doing something to get the blood moving to address the dampness 
    • It’d be important to harmonize the formula, which is totally possible with two opposing forces in formula; just add more of one thing and less of another

Intuition + Preferences

I’m always talking about how herbalism is a relationship with nature. Nature speaks to me, I listen. I ask nature for answers, and SHE SHOWS UP. To start trusting your intuition when it comes to herbs and fostering this relationship with nature, Kelsey recommends the following exercise: Go to a grocery store, stand in front of the herbs or vegetables, take a few breaths, and see what you are drawn to. Your body knows what it needs—you just have to listen. You can also take this a step further and listen to your dreams, reach out to your ancestors/spirit guides, and meditate on herbs to see what speaks to you.

Similarly, Kelsey notes that the beauty of herbalism is that it’s not a pharmacy! We can bring pleasure and sensuality into the practice of healing with plants. We can choose herbs that smell and taste good—whether that’s consuming tea, cooking with plants, or opting for a blend that is formulated to suit your taste palate. 

Ancestral Connections 

We’re so innately connected to the Earth, and that includes the herbs and plants we consume. Through a research project in herb school, Kelsey discovered that there’s a HUGE connection between where our ancestors are from, where the herbs we consume originated, and how our bodies respond to those herbs. 

For example, when Kelsey started using ancestral herbs (from her European heritage), she noticed they worked faster than other herbs that might address similar concerns. Basically, because her ancestors evolved for thousands of years with these plants, they sort of passed down genetic info to her—allowing these herbs to work faster and more efficiently. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

To put this into practice, take a look at your lineage and choose one plant with roots to that area. Start taking it consistently for a month and see how your body responds to it.

Here are a couple of our favorite herbs.

Of course, Kelsey and I nerd out on specific herbs during this ep. Here are a few we can’t get enough of:

Burdock 

Native to Northern Asia and Europe, this plant is harvested for its roots, which can be cooked with or made into capsules or teas. It’s an indispensable oil remedy, which is important as our bodies need to be hydrated (water) and moisturized (oil). The way that we absorb oils is through bile, which is produced in our liver. Coincidentally, lots of people have sluggish livers, which prevents this from happening as effectively. Burdock—being a bitter, stimulating herb—helps nourish and cleanse the liver, to support the breakdown of oil.

Side note: Milk thistle is another great protective, liver-supporting herb.

Rose 

Kelsey and I talk about using rose—leaves and extract—to address trauma. Trauma in our spirit is said to live in the heart, and rose is said to strengthen the heart, while calming and softening the spirit. The astringency of this herb helps pull the spirit back down into the heart. And it’s easy to incorporate however you’d like: diffuse a few drops of a tincture, take a rose petal bath, massage yourself with rose oil, spray your face with rose water, etc. 

Here are some ways to incorporate herbs into your daily life. 

Herbs can be a little intimidating, but they don’t have to be at all! If you’re looking to lean on plants a little more, here are a few easy ways to connect with nature on the daily: 

  • Make food medicinal – Consume high doses of herbs in your cooking, smoothies, salads, etc.
  • Use herbal oils – Herbs can be just as beneficial when used topically—sometimes, even more so, depending on the herb and the concern
  • Try medicinal lattes – Add adaptogens or other herbs to your coffee for an extra boost of plants without changing any habits 

As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on our NEW IG, @shoporganicolivia

xoxo,

Olivia

Connect with Kelsey Barrett:

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