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Energetic Herbalism

A Guide to Sacred Plant Traditions Integrating Elements of Vitalism, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine

By Kat Maier


*Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal Winner: Health, Healing & Wellness

In this indispensable new resource both for the home apothecary and clinical practitioners, a celebrated herbalist brings alive the elemental relationships among traditional healing practices, ecological stewardship, and essential plant medicines.

By honoring ancient wisdom and presenting it in an innovative way, Energetic Herbalism is a profound and practical guide to family and community care for those seeking to move beyond symptom relief and into a truly holistic framework of health. Throughout, author Kat Maier invites readers to explore their personal relationships with plants and their environs as they discover diverse models of healing.

Inside Energetic Herbalism, you’ll find:

  • The elements and patterns of Ayurvedic doshas for greater self-awareness as well as positive lifestyle choices
  • A deep appreciation of the wisdom of indigenous peoples, which is the foundation of sacred plant traditions
  • The relationship of well-being to the seasons through the brilliant lens of Chinese Five Element Theory, and how our emotional health is beautifully expressed through the Elements
  • The roots and evolution of Vitalism, the traditional Western system of energetic medicine
  • How to assess imbalances in the body using the elegant and intuitive vocabulary of the six tissue states, an emerging tool in Western herbalism
  • The senses as the main tools for navigating through energetic herbalism

Through the rich herbal tradition of storytelling, Maier seamlessly blends theory and practice with her experience-tested herbal remedies and healing protocols. Maier stresses the critical message of how to address the challenge of threatened medicinal plant populations, offering practical and inspiriting methods for ensuring their survival. Many herbals boast a materia medica of more than 100 herbs, but in keeping with an emphasis on sustainable practice, Maier instead focuses in depth on 25 essential medicinal herbs that can be grown in most temperate climates and soils, including

  • Dandelion
  • Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng)
  • Goldenseal
  • Burdock
  • Calendula
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenrod


Whether you are a seasoned clinical herbalist, an herbalist-in-training, or simply someone seeking to provide the best natural health care for your family, this book is a source of inspiration, insight, and answers you will return to again and again.

Reviews and Praise

“This amazing book almost leaves me speechless. Energetic Herbalism integrates the many different sources that flow into modern herbalism into an integrated conception and practice. Although the book is directed for the home herbalist, it is also a textbook for beginner to advanced levels, to be treasured and assimilated over many years. This is the type of book that can be written only by one who has been ruminating and practicing for decades, yet it also represents a stream of energy arising from the plants themselves, expressing themselves through Kat, in herbal wisdom. This book touches upon everything that I hold dear in herbal medicine, founded upon the real experience of Nature as a living, intelligent, spiritual being.”—Matthew Wood, MS (Herbal Medicine), founder, Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism; author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom

“A beautifully written, all-encompassing guide to understanding the major healing traditions from around the world—Vitalism, Ayurveda, and Chinese medicine. Lest you think that this is all Kat Maier offers, let me dispel that thought. Diving deep into sacred healing traditions, Kat leads us to the plants. She enlightens with the uses, indications, and preparations of the plants she has chosen for the apothecary. Energetic Herbalism is a book you’ll return to again and again.”—Phyllis Light, author of Southern Folk Medicine

“A wonderfully practical and accessible guide to energetic herbalism, filled with the wisdom and Viriditas of a Real Herbalist. Thank you, Kat!”—David Hoffmann, RH (AHG), fellow, National Institute of Medical Herbalists; principal scientist, Traditional Medicinals

“I always ask my students: Do you want to be a good herbalist or a great herbalist? One of the essentials necessary to achieve a high level of herbal practice is the study of herbal energetics. In Energetic Herbalism, Kat Maier has distilled the teachings of the world’s great herbal traditions into a concise, easy to learn guide that will allow any herbalist to begin to treat each person as an individual rather than generically treating diseases, and in so doing, to truly achieve excellence."—David Winston, RH(AHG), DSc(hc), author of Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief

“That Kat Maier’s book so wonderfully conveys the essence and importance of energetic herbalism is a blessing. That the book also frames our use of herbs within the larger relationships we hold with the land, the seasons, and the sacred is essential. In Energetic Herbalism, Kat doesn’t share mere uses of herbs but keen insights into establishing a deeper understanding of the patterns of health and nature.”—jim mcdonald, herbalist and founder, 

“Kat Maier has written Energetic Herbalism with her heart forward. Beginning with her story of how she got into herbalism—a journey that became her life’s work—Kat takes on the hard task of making complex herbal systems easily understandable. She also does something that is even harder. She leads her readers to understand that plant medicine is a relationship that needs to be approached from the heart.”—Karyn Sanders, cofounder, Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine; cohost, The Herbal Highway

Energetic Herbalism provides herbalists with the essential tools and language necessary to comprehend the patterns of nature. Kat Maier’s way of conveying the ancient art of energetics in healing brings insight not only to the bodily expressions but to the innate nature of plants. This book nurtures an awareness of partnership between people and plants—it is a reverent call to sustainability. Kat’s profound teachings always leave me awestruck and entice me further into my love affair with herbs. In her book, her impassioned voice penetrates the healer’s heart.”—Mimi Hernandez, executive director, American Herbalists Guild

“Kat Maier’s Energetic Herbalism is a wonderful, much-needed addition to the growing sophistication of American herbalism.”—Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of The Lost Language of Plants and Healing Lyme

“In this beautifully written resource, Kat Maier has distilled her immense understanding of plant medicine into a captivating and comprehensive guidebook. Her extensive trainings in both the herbal energetic arts and the world of conventional medicine make her a trustworthy guide. With the skill of a practiced healer, she deftly balances the practical with the poetic, weaving together the needs of personal wellness with those of planetary health. As an herbal teacher, this is a book I would recommend. As a practicing herbalist, this is a book I will reference. And as a reader, this is a book that offers me inspiration and hope.”—Lorna Mauney-Brodek, founder and director, Herbalista

“Although I have been an herbalist for forty years, I was never able to understand the concepts of Chinese or Ayurvedic energetics as applied to healing with plants. Kat Maier is the first person to make the connection clear, and I am grateful—I get it! Energetic Herbalism is a book to savor and digest slowly, and the rewards will merit the effort. I especially like the section on the energetic virtues of kitchen herbs and spices. Kat’s evocation of ‘heart space’ in which we acknowledge and revere plants as spiritual beings in physical bodies, just like ourselves, gives me hope for our future as a planet. Just getting started as an herbalist? Want to be a better herbalist? A better person? A better steward of the planet? This is the wisdom book for you.”—Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN, founder, The Abdominal Therapy Collective; author of The Urban Herbalist

“Kat Maier has crafted a very necessary book for these times and the era ahead. We all come from an herbalism tradition somewhere in our lineage. Kat weaves together many of these global practices, paying attention to giving credit where it is due and honoring the sources of the wisdom she shares. Her focus on conservation and kitchen herbalism and her message that less can be more are refreshing. The distillation of a materia medica down to twenty-five mostly common yet powerful plants is one excellent example. Ultimately, this book delves into the sometimes subtle yet significant ways seasonality and energetics aid in healing, filling a niche greatly needed in the herbal community.”—Marc Williams, ethnobiologist; facilitator, Botany Every Day; executive director, Plants and Healers International

“It has been such a pleasure to dig into this verdant body of work, layered in plant knowledge, folk remedies, and the rich studies of our human experience with herbs and healing. Kat Maier has crafted a beautiful, lyrical work of art. She weaves together her wealth of knowledge on herbalism through the lens of story, culture, archetypes, the medicine of place, the Celtic wheel of the year, and the always abundant kitchen apothecary. This book is chock full of applicable learnings for any novice or astute lover of the healing realms of the plant traditions. Dig in, and enjoy.”—Leah Song, Rising Appalachia

“If you want to understand the wisdom and healing potential of herbalism, you have come to the right place by choosing this book. At this crucial juncture in our relationship with Nature, it is vital we learn how we can live in greater harmony. The way we nurture a respectful relationship with ourselves, society, and the planet will determine our future. The insights in Energetic Herbalism will go a long way to helping you understand the language of plants and to develop a deep relationship with their healing potential. So explore this book, awaken your senses, experience the character and personality of the plants, and you will find a whole new world of herbal harmony.”—Sebastian Pole, cofounder, Pukka Herbs and Herbal Reality

“Kat Maier has skillfully crafted a book for the ages. Energetic Herbalism is a guide to building authentic plant relationships, couched in the context of ecology and energetics. This book invites the reader to connect with plant medicine in a living relationship of respect and reciprocity. Paying tribute to cultures of North America and around the globe, Kat offers insight into the traditions that have informed and molded the practice of modern herbalism. Her book weaves together energetic framework, practical application, and spiritual relationship, bringing complex teachings to life in an accessible format for the lay herbalist and clinical practitioner alike. I am excited to share this book with my students, knowing they will pass it down to their students in turn.”—Emily Ruff, director, Sage Mountain Botanical Sanctuary

"Kat Maier is a genuine wise woman able to combine carefully considered scientific research with the principles of credible and insightful healing traditions, a deep ecological sensibility with real-life conservation efforts, extensive herbal experience with a personal vision rooted in a most intimate and passionate relationship with the plants. If you are looking for a great new herb book to inform and inspire you, Energetic Herbalism is one that Kiva Rose and I can recommend for sure."—Jesse Wolf Hardin, cofounder, Plant Healer Events and Publications