Do you need some extra Spring in your step?
In Oriental medicine, each season is associated with one of the 5 elements.
Summer with Fire;
Late Summer with Earth;
Autumn with Metal;
Winter with Water; and not surprisingly
Spring is paired with the Wood element, as this is the time plants and trees start showing signs of new life.
The Wood element also has an association within our body and is represented by the acupuncture meridians of the Liver and Gallbladder.
Wood exemplifies the energy of growth, change, and pushing through obstacles. It’s a very active energy that allows for a lot of movement and progress, both internally and externally. This energy allows us to have new ideas and plans, to change who we are, be assertive, make decisions, have a vision and hope for the future. At this time of year, we may have more energy to get moving on projects (hence the classic “spring cleaning”).
When blocked or constrained, it is also the energy of frustration, anger and stress. Any areas of stuck-ness and frustration in our life can become especially apparent. Spring is a really good time to work with these blockages, and get things moving so we can have access to all that great energy.
The Liver governs the muscles and tendons, the eyes, and the fingernails, and plays a key role in the functioning of the reproductive system. In the body as a whole, it is responsible for the smooth flow of mental and physical energy, and assists all the other organ systems in functioning properly. Liver “qi” (energy) allows for the appropriate movement and release of emotions, and has an especially strong connection with the feelings of anger and frustration.
As the Liver qi starts to flow more easily in the spring, problems that bothered us in the winter often start to feel better, and we find we have more energy and vigor. Sometimes, though, the transition can be a little rocky, and people feel more stagnant and pent-up for a little while. Spring can be a hard time for health issues that are related to qi stagnation. Examples include depression, muscle tightness and pain, digestive disorders, migraines, and menstrual difficulties. Don’t be discouraged if these symptoms feel a little worse, just when the weather is starting to get better. Spring is also a really good time to work with these conditions, because the patterns are most accessible and responsive to lasting change.
Try my suggestions below to make the most of this season!
Suggestions for Spring:
- Get outside. Outdoor air helps the qi flow, as does exercise. If you find yourself feeling irritable, lethargic, or stuck, find some time for an outdoor activity such as stretching, Qi Gong, Tai Qi, yoga, light weights, walking, meditation, light cardio, hiking, gardening, cycling – whatever suits you!
- Express yourself! Dancing, cooking, writing, making art or music… Any form of creative expression helps nourish and channel Wood energy in a healthy way.
- Dress accordingly. Spring weather changes like an infants’ face so using layers is best. Spring is also the windy season and as the weather starts to warm up, we can become susceptible to colds and flu, sore throat, tonsillitis, upper respiratory infections, sinus and hayfever.
- Eat green food. Not surprisingly, green is the colour that goes with spring, wood, and the liver. Green, leafy foods are especially helpful to the liver qi. If you can find in-season baby greens, that’s the best!
- Add the sour flavour. Sour foods also help soothe and smooth the liver qi, and can ease the transition into spring. Add lemon to your water, pickles to your sandwich, and vinegar dressings to your salad. Those who suffer from chronic pain will need to moderate the sour flavour as too much goes directly to the nerves and can injure the liver.
- If you have allergies, take care of them. Allergy symptoms can make an otherwise lovely time of year quite unpleasant. To discuss a treatment strategy, call me to make an appointment.
- Stretch. According to Oriental medicine, the Liver stores blood during rest and releases it to the tendons and muscles in times of activity. Taking a few minutes to stretch or do yoga in the morning can help you move more fluidly through the day.
Although we like to concentrate on what’s nourishing and beneficial, the Liver certainly responds to some foods and non-foods negatively. So in Spring especially, try to avoid or significantly reduce the following:
- refined sugar
- caffeine – including chocolate
- alcohol and other stimulating drugs
- chilli and garlic are very stimulating to the Liver and create Liver Fire (check the colour of your tongue – if its quite red or dark, it would be best if you avoid these altogether)
- food additives of any kind
- vegetable oils other than olive oil, coconut oil and sesame oil
- Deep fried foods, even in traditional fats, attribute to Liver Fire. These should only be consumed in the cooler months and especially avoided if your tongue is red!
If you are experiencing any health concerns and interested in how Oriental Medicine may be able to help you, please contact Kim on 0416 219973 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a treatment plan.