For almost a year now, I’ve been doing a YouTube series called “Herb of the Week.” These are short, hopefully enjoyable descriptions of various seasonally-relevant herb energetics. These energetics are part of life—not just the life of an herbalist. That’s why I thought I’d share one of these little weekly herb messages right here on my blog. If you like this, you can find many, many more on my YouTube channel.
Xiang fu cyperus is an herb for Liver qi constraint: for action impeded, held in the body. It’s not particularly for constraint where you are held down. Here we are in a constraint where every single nerve and muscle fiber is held against every other single nerve and muscle fiber, like a giant systemic Velcro. Even your thoughts and your emotions are just snagging on each other…
This is frustration! If chai hu bupleurum is more about the feeling of Liver qi constraint as oppression, xiang fu cyperus is the feeling of Liver qi constraint as frustration. Everywhere you turn in this endless raspberry patch, things are snagging. Quite frequently, when in need of xiang fu cyperus, people don’t usually explode all over the place; they snipe and implode. Just imagine that lack of mobility of a raspberry patch, or increasing levels of internal Velcro inside of you, getting thicker and thicker and thicker, until there is nothing but darkness in your eyes. You just stare ahead at the TV set, which is off.
The formula Yue Ju Wan, which is a formula for the five stucknesses, is probably the best xiang fu cyperus formula that I know for catatonic rage. If I had to go into a mental hospital with nothing but a knapsack of one formula, it probably would be that formula, for that sense of absolute complete futility from a thousand Velcros compounding into a black hole of imploded rage depression. It doesn’t have to have progressed all the way to catatonia for Yue Ju Wan to be a fabulous way to break internal gridlock. When there is a black hole rage, wherein there is a feeling that everywhere you look, you can’t go—you can’t get anywhere from here—I think of xiang fu cyperus.
Xiang fu cyperus helps us start to loosen everything up in a way that will not harm self or other. It allows for a lot more sense of junction between the Liver and the Gallbladder. The Liver is an “as the crow flies” meridian, straight from here to there, while the Gallbladder is the most zigzag of meridians. It’s as though the Liver is saying, “I’m heading straight this way!” while the Gallbladder is a really savvy cab driver who can wend you around in all these different directions. The xiang fu cyperus helps us to keep our Liver’s sense of inner compass, while bringing us up and out into the Gallbladder’s strategic overview of being able to make three lefts instead of a right without feeling at all frustrated or disoriented. Nothing has changed, but the qi becomes much more limber and flowing due to an enhancement of perspective.
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