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Temperament Types and Medicinal Qualities of Plants

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2007

Everyone exhibits one of four basic temperament types, and each type has a positive and negative pole that can become imbalanced. When a person is imbalanced, this conflict can create blemishes, wrinkles, and other skin ailments. Certain plants can have a powerful healing affect on skin to help achieve balance.

The Four Temperament Types
People with this temperament are doers and leaders. They exude confidence while taking on challenges and get things done. They have great stamina and a lot of energy and determination, but they may have a tendency to forget the personal concerns in favor of the details of the job or challenges at hand.

Eating more cooked vegetables, avoiding spicy foods, and reducing alcohol intake can help keep this temperament in balance. The plant that can help balance this temperament is lavender.

This temperament is characterized by optimism, humor, and a generally upbeat nature. People with this temperament tend to say the right thing at the right moment and are generous, understanding, and tolerant. This positive outlook is great for the appearance, but a sanguine person might take the good life a little too far and find difficulty staying focused.

Adding vigorous exercise, massages, and whole grains (such as brown rice, millet, and barley) -- as well as fish, eggs, turkey, or chicken -- can help ground this temperament. The spruce plant aids the balance of a sanguine temperament.

This temperament is characterized by the ability to think things through, envision the future, and create a plan for the fulfillment of goals. This person loves order and finds safety in routine, seeks tranquility, is reliable, and has a lot of patience. People with this temperament don't need quick results and are cautious of big offers or promises. Alternatively, when out of balance, the phlegmatic person can be stifling, predictable, and flat. Life comes and goes, and, worse yet, he or she can become married to his or her routine out of fear.

Minimizing dairy and eating more warming spices (such as garlic, pepper, coriander, and roasted red pepper) help awaken the heart. People with phlegmatic temperaments should try to do something different every day to break up the routine. The plant that helps this temperament is lemon.

When one is in the melancholic nature, he or she is caring, compassionate, and openhearted, and thinks less about life practically and more philosophically. Melancholic people are spiritually oriented, empathic, and listen attentively.

On the flip side, they may feel their own emotions intensely and become preoccupied with their own distress. They tend to be intellectual and struggle to connect their own metaphorical dots. Alternatively, they have a tendency to be moody, worry a lot, and wallow in deep existential questions. All this negative thinking can get the better of them, causing physical distress, depression, and a wide array of ailments.

To keep this in balance, people with the melancholic temperament should eat more cooked whole grains and root vegetables, and avoid raw vegetables and fruit. The plant that helps this temperament return to balance is rosemary.

Medicinal Plants
Lavender oil: soothes irritated skin
- Rosemary and rosemary oil: brings vitality to the skin
- Lemons and lemon oil: refreshes skin
- Spruce and spruce oil: opens the lungs
- Sage and sage oil: draws out toxins from the skin

Special Thanks
Susan West Kurz

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