Dec 222009

4oclockHerbal energetics and human constitutions are predicated upon specific underlying concepts, including the spectrums of hot/cold, dry/moist, relaxation/stimulation and deficiency/excess. Herbal and dietary therapeutics will vary a great deal depending where the individual currently resides within these spectrums.

Deficiency and excess are a primary energetic spectrum and are defined in relation to the flow and concentration of the anima, or vital force, in the body. All symptoms are variable depending upon the individual, and it’s usually most helpful to look for patterns rather that isolated symptoms which can sometime appear contradictory and thus confusing.

A long period of excess type illnesses can result in eventual deficiency due to the restriction and blockage of the anima, a condition that can drain and burn up vital force. Thus, it is very important to address excess conditions carefully and quickly and assist the body in restoring native equilibrium. Deficiency conditions can in severe cases result in long-term systemic weakness, fragility and sometimes death. When observing an individual to ascertain the level of deficiency and excess, remember to note whether the current state of being is long-term or recent, because some acute illnesses can initially impersonate an excess constitutional condition.

Keep in mind that deficiency and excess are only one aspect of several primary energetic spectrums that should all be looked at in relation to each other. If neither excess or deficiency is apparent in the individual, move on to another energetic spectrum. Subtle constitutional imbalances may be more noticeable if you come back to deficiency and excess at the end of your assessment.

Deficiency occurs when the vital force has been used up or drained by illness, inappropriate lifestyle practices, substance abuse or other misuse of the energetic stores of the body. Deficiency of vital force in the body can result in fragility, weakness, chronic disease, sensations of coldness and hypoimmunity, a lack of tongue coating, lack of desire to move or participate in normal activities, and a general sense of the life force receding from the person.

Excess conditions often occur where a blockage of the vital force causes a buildup or misdirection of the energy. This can result in feelings of heat, pressure and oppression in the chest or gut, restlessness, irritation, aggressive behavior, hyperimmunity, systemic inflammation and a general sense of frustrated or bound up energy.

Possible Signs of Excess Conditions

  • Flushed
  • Discomfort worse with pressure
  • Discomfort worse with heat
  • Desires cold substances
  • Aggressive manner
  • Strong or bounding pulse
  • Thick tongue coat
  • Restless, agitated

Possible Signs of Deficiency Conditions

  • Pale or pale with malar flush
  • Discomfort better with pressure
  • Discomfort better with heat
  • Desires warm substances
  • Weak or faint, erratic pulse
  • Little or no tongue coat, cracked or raw looking tongue surface
  • Tired, inactive, lethargic

  13 Responses to “Terms of the Trade: Excess and Deficiency”


    THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR AWESOME POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thank you Kiva. Really helpful info. I have forwarded this too a few good friends online. Great post…


  3. This is an excellent introduction of herbal and human energetics Kiva – thanks!

    To Jim: I have used astrology and dowsing with great results long distance, and it is usually on the phone, which further helps me understand an energetic signature hearing voice (and the healing is often energetic first, and sometimes herbs “show up” to be worked with). However, I think if it is at all possible, a person ought to see an herbalist physically, particularly since herbalism is a physical system of healing.

    Do any herbalists who post here dowse the remedies, or muscle-test (a form of kinesthesiology)? This is no substitute for knowledge, but I have found it a great double-checking method.

  4. You’re too damn hilarious for your own good, jim (get off the caps man, you made your point and now you’re hurting my eyes). heh.

    Neil, thank you, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    AarTiana, don’t mind jim, he’s being funny.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

    And you will very likely get many more replies to your question, if you post it in the herbwifery forum, a great many of my readers are email subscribers and don’t ever see the comments.

    BTW, herbalism is not just a physical (although I’d question the fact that there is even a real division between physical and other) form of healing, the plants absolutely have an “energetic” affect as well (because after all, it’s all connected and there’s no practical way to make a separation.

  5. I really liked this post and always look forward to reading your perspective on energetics and constitutions. I’ve also wondered about diagnosing by email or phone, versus in person. What if an individual has complex symptoms and exhibits signs of both excess as well as deficiency? What does that mean, Kiva?

  6. …oh yeah, and I like the part about herbalism not being just a physical form of healing. In your approach, can healing happen at JUST the energetic level, or must it be combined with the physical ingestion or application of herbal preparations?

  7. Hi Phoebe, it’s definitely MUCH harder without meeting with the individual in person, and you really have to be prepared to do a whole different sort of approach with different goals in most cases. As I mentioned above, excess and deficiency can sometimes appear conflicting but you wouldn’t ever want to only be working with this aspect of energetics anyway, but rather within the context of thermal energetics, fluid energetics, tissue states etc., which will usually give you a much clearer overall picture of what’s going on.

    I don’t think there is any JUST energetic level, because anything that effects your emotions, your psyche, your mind also, by necessity, effects your body. And vice versa, whether we’re prepared to notice it or not. However, you certainly can be affected by a plant or a person etc without ingesting or applying them to your person. Just as talking to a friend or loved one can be profoundly healing, so can just being nearing a specific plant, or the natural world as a whole. But it’s still informing your whole being through your senses.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope that’s helpful 🙂

  8. Yes, it is. In addition to the healing experience of being with plants/in the natural world, I also feel affected when I open the doors of my herbal medicine cabinet and behold the beautiful bottles and jars of herbal preparations I’ve crafted from the wild (many inspired by you). Thanks, Kiva.

  9. hi, um… kiva…

    i wanted to say

    your recommendations seemed to, um…

    make me feel

    so much




    i really



  10. *laughing* So what’s jim on?

  11. I always deeply appreciate this website, and all that is shared. I used health dowsing regularly with clients. Practice Integrative Acupressure (similar to mix of chiro, acupuncture, etc) and herbal therapeutics. Have clients dowse for herbal considerations, foods, etc. all day long…anyone off the street can. Teach practitioners how to do this w clients. Our knowledge and experience w herbs, etc. informs the depth and breadth of the dowsing. The accuracy and effectiveness of my herbal practice has increase significantly, esp dealing quickly w microbial challenges, which in last year have exploded…little microbial imbalances in digestion, resp, joints, head, etc. At any rate, I think it buffers me a bit, liability wise, and allows me to provide wonderful herbal support, and then pop people on the table for hands on. Take Care.

  12. Hi,

    Still checking your blog almost daily and really enjoying the thoughts and info. Regarding this one, what are your primary means of examination and diagnosis? And do you have any sources or books to point to for those of us who would like a little more info on the human energetic patterns without taking a full course? I’m practicing herbalism in my own home using local plants. I get the general idea about the relationship of taste to action, but am drawing some blanks on the energetic diagnosis (though I’m well versed in western medicine, being a nurse, and do have a basic knowledge of the principles of eastern medicine).

    Thanks again.

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