How does an herb interact with the human physiology, specifically how do the energetic qualities of certain herbs affect tissue states* of the body?
The energetic qualities of herbs refer to temperature and moisture. These qualities are described as hot & cold, warm & cool, moist & dry, etc.
Following this similar pattern of contrasting energetic qualities, the tissue states of the body can also be described as hot & cold, warm & cool, moist & dry, etc.
When anything exaggerates, obstructs, or depresses the Vital Force, there is an imbalance in the body which readily manifests as physiological symptoms in the tissue states of the body (i.e. inflammation, fever, etc.)
It is the job of the herbalist to neutralize these imbalanced tissue states using herbal medicine. In other words, the herbalist's job is to match the herbs to a symptom that points to a specific pathological indication. And this is where herbal medicine does its magic... (!!!) because herbal medicine is experienced at the tissue level! A human's physiological response to herbal medicine comes from phytochemicals stimulating mucous membranes.
Now this is where my training comes in as an herbalist because there is an art and science to pairing herbs to specific indications and that is dependent on energetics, both in the herb itself and the human.
A human is experiencing a fever.
(A fever is a positive sign; it is the body's Vital Intelligence coming through! A fever is the body's way of killing an infection--viral or bacterial. It heats us up and increases circulation in order to bring more oxygen and food to our cells so that it has the resources to kill the virus/bacteria. Amazing!)
From a vitalist energetic perspective, a fever is known as a hot condition in which tissue states are inflamed and Vital Force is exaggerated. Said human is experiencing typical fever symptoms that come with increased body temperature: sweating and discomfort, mental malaise, dull appetite, physical lethargy, sleepiness, coughing, and overall lack of vital energy. Physicians of past and present state that a high temperature of 103 deg F in adults is ideal pathogen killing temperature. However, once the temperatures increase beyond 103, it is necessary to start cooling off the body! (Temperatures in the 104-107 range can be deadly.) In this instance, the application of cooling, diaphoretic (sweating) herbs would be beneficial to help the body release excess heat which in turn will decrease body temperature. Examples of cooling herbs that help with fevers are Elder flower (Sambucus spp.), Lavender (Lavandula vera), Nettle (Urtica dioica), Mint (Mentha spp.), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) etc. The methods through which one can apply these herbs to the body are: drinking teas/infusions of aforementioned herbs (Elder/Yarrow/Mint), applying a damp towel on body and forehead doused in lavender/mint water, hydrating with lemon water, etc. Of course, sleeping and rest is also needed when fever-ing! Forgo work/school/social obligations and take part in the body's restorative and re-vitalizing power of sleep!
Weed, S. (2006). Hot Colds and Cold Colds. Retrieved from http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/February07/healingwise.htm
Wood, M., & Ryan, D. (2016). The Earthwise Herbal Repertory. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Adfo Books.