Best Audience: Herbalists who want to better understand the language of energetics used historically in Europe or learn better though the metaphor of story rather than chemical analysis (as is used in modern scientific discourse)
I set out to deepen my understanding of the language of energetics and herbal systems beyond the reductive approach used in modern science-style herbalism. What I was looking for was an understanding of the patterns recognized by our European and early American herbal-elders and how they might be applied to modern practice. I love the language and focus of Auyveda’s and Traditional Chinese Medicine’s systems. I was looking for something similar but that covers some of the plants, like nettle, that aren’t well-covered or used in those systems…something that could help me better understand the references I’ve found to old European and Greek uses of them.
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification by Matthew Wood offered a clear and easy-to-understand description of the basic language of that system, the Traditional Western Herbal system. He offered a solid grounding for traditional Western herbalism in the systems-based and reductionist-style approach with which I’m familiar, which is the preferred style of modern medicine and scientists. As I read The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification, I felt like the concepts I’d gleaned from many other books and references snapped into place amidst a system that made sense. It was like trying on an old favorite pair of jeans to find that they fit perfectly.
I particularly loved the case studies and specific herbs Matthew used to illustrate each state and condition. They helped clarify the concepts and made each more memorable.
The Bottom Line: The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification by Matthew Woodhas earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.
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