April 28, 2021
Collective names for groups of animals have been kicking around the English language a really long time. Internet experts say they date back to Medieval times, when English was barely English. Some collective nouns are familiar: a swarm of bees, a pack of wolves. Some of them give rise to pop culture titles: a murder of crows. And some only make sense once you look at a picture of the animal. Take, for example, the world's deadliest large land mammals, hippopotamuses (hippopotami?) The collective noun for a group of hippos is bloat. That's right, the collective noun for hippos is the same word we use to describe that feeling in our abdomen after a particularly well made Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe the reason hippos are so deadly is because they just don't feel well; because they have crummies in their tummies. In the world of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, formulas intended to help the spirit, what we would think of as mental health in the modern world, typically include herbs to improve digestion. And that makes some intuitive sense- who isn't going to feel unhappy, stressed and anxious when suffering indigestion? And the reverse direction is also true. Who hasn't at least once experienced being so emotionally distressed that change in appetite was the consequence? There's a reason we use the phrase "stress eating." Herbalogic makes six formulas to support emotional health:
All of these formulas contain herbs traditionally indicated to improve digestion.
And we make two formulas to help with sleep:
Fundamentally, sleep is a nocturnal display of emotional health. Both of of these sleep support formulas contain herbs traditionally used to improve digestion.*
Why are hippos so aggressive? I don't know. But I do know that in the world traditional Chinese herbs mental health and digestive health are inextricably linked. Don't go thinking you can change one without changing the other.
Just to bring it back around to the 8-year joke at the beginning of this piece, the hippocampus is the part of the brain, well 2 parts, one on each side, that regulates motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. From personal experience, none of those things go well for me when I have digestive distress.
The Bloat of Hippos is just one of a three-part series of the very tenuous connection between collective nouns and traditional Chinese herbs. Feel encouraged to read about The Crash of Rhinos and The Zeal of Zebras.
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