This is the final article in this series on herbal energetic dynamics.
First up we covered the basic polarity of Yin vs. Yang.
Then, we dove into Cold vs. Hot.
Now we’re going to finish up with Dry vs. Wet.
The purpose of all this has been to give you a better idea of the qualities of these herbs and how they fit your constitution and individuality.
One of the classic reasons that herbs do not “work” for a person is because these energetic effects are off. Have too dry of a person and use dry herbs and you may not get the benefits you’re seeking.
Also read: Why Herbs Stop Working
The opposites of dry and wet are found in pretty much every ancient system of medicine. This includes Greek, Chinese and Ayurveda. I won’t go into all the detail about that again like was covered in the previous article.
Instead, let’s start by revisiting the constitution types.
Once again, the most well-known of these today are the three Ayurvedic doshas. These doshas describe what I’ll call lubrication amount here too.
Kapha tends towards wetness.
Vata tends towards dryness.
Pitta is more neutral. (Actually towards oiliness, which is somewhat on the wet side.)
So you can ask yourself…
Do you tend to be dry or wet?
It’s not as easy of a question to answer as hot or cold. But you can look at various parts of your body for signs.
Is your skin or scalp dry and flaky? Do your joints pop a lot or have stiff movement (from lack of lubricating synovial fluid)? Do you sweat a lot and easily? Are your poops small and hard or on the softer, even wetter side?
Dampness, as it’s termed in Chinese medicine, can be seen in being clammy, sluggish, swollen, groggy and phlegmy. Some symptoms include weight gain, bloating, lack of energy, loose stool, and infections.
On the flip side, dryness is seen in tissues of the body (skin, hair, eyes, etc.), night sweats, chapped lips, acid reflux, constipation, lack of estrogen in women, nosebleeds, and more. (Dryness seems to be related to hormone imbalance in both men and women. It’s like the hormonal system and it’s many fat/cholesterol derived sex hormones aren’t kept lubricated. Keep that in mind…)
Dry and Wet Herbs
Even more so true that herbs tend to be cooling to cold is this critical piece to realize…
Almost all herbs are drying.
Herbs that are moistening are few and far between. Part of this may certainly have to do with preparation methods (more on that shortly), but it’s also in the herbs themselves.
Therefore, it is absolutely critical to recognize the few wet herbs and make use of them as needed. This is even more crucial for those who tend toward dryness (Vata) as many herbs can exacerbate this.
Although there are different degrees of dryness and wetness I’m just grouping everything together here into these categories plus neutral.
Dioscorea (Wild Yam)
(In Chinese medicine licorice is known as “the great harmonizer” and is added to many formulas to help “bring it together.” The reason it may have this function is because of it’s moistening nature, especially when this is seen in comparison that every other herb in the formula may be drying.)
Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium)
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
These herbs may not quite be moistening in the bigger sense above. But in Chinese medicine, they help build blood which is wet. So in some cases, they may help.
He Shou Wu
These lists were tougher to compile as this information isn’t as readily available as hot and cold. Many are my personal opinions. But in a sense, it was easier to compile, because if in doubt, it’s probably drying.
Preparations Methods and Temperature Changes
We need to look at preparation methods and how they change things up.
All of our preparation methods used at Lost Empire increase the drying qualities.
If it is turned into a dry powder, it is drying.
Alcohol, as used in tinctures, is also drying.
Of course, adding these to liquids such as water, as well as the inclusion of oils into a smoothie, can help to balance out the drying aspects of herbs.
Formulations and Dry vs. Wet
Once again, let’s look at the same formulas as used last time when looking at temperature dynamics.
Let’s start with Stag Swag.
Deer Antler (Neutral)
Pine Pollen (Dry)
He Shou Wu (Blood)
Wild Yam (Wet)
Pearl Powder (Dry)
Overall, it’s a drying and warm formula. In this way, it is most suitable for those of the Kapha dosha.
But it is not excessive if these dynamics, so if other factors are done to balance things out, Vata and Pitta doshas could still gain benefit.
Let’s look at another example, Athena Formula.
Dong Quai (Blood)
Pine Pollen (Dry)
Ah, here we identify some of the magic that is Athena. It’ balances out on the moistening side. If you consider that we’re considered more “wet” when we’re younger and “dry” as we get older, this shows one way of looking at how this has been especially helpful to older women.
So Athena is wet and warming. This makes it stand apart from most formulas out there.
Once again, this article is meant to just be an overview of wet and dry dynamics and to fill you in on a few details about the herbs you’re likely taking that you didn’t know yet. If you have any questions or comments, please ask them below.
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