Can you feel it? The sun warm on your skin, the daylight lingering a bit longer, the crocuses are in bloom, and trees and bushes are beginning to bud.
Spring is here in the Northern hemisphere!
Even in high-altitude places like Denver, Colorado, where we’re likely to get snow well into May, we’re also blessed with 60º days and bluebird skies in between the snowstorms. You can feel the change in season everywhere you look.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is rooted in the Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with the world around you, the change in seasons has a big impact on your body, emotions, and even your state of mind.
Spring is the time of year when the “Yang” is rising…things are waking up from the stillness and inward focus of Winter. It’s a time of regeneration, renewal, and potential. We can see it in ourselves as “Spring fever,” the feeling that we want to go out DO something!
Each season relates to one of the five elements in TCM, and the Wood element is associated with Spring.
The nature of Wood is growth, reaching out like the tulip bulbs pushing out of the earth. Its nature is in bringing our intentions out into the world. The organ systems associated with Wood are the Liver and Gall Bladder.
The Liver is the Yin side of Wood energy, called the “Little General” in TCM. It’s the energy behind your long-term Vision and direction for your life. Healthy Liver energy helps you plan, set goals, and see the big picture. If it’s depleted, you may have trouble with both your metaphorical and physical vision (eyesight) as well as sore, tight tendons and ligaments. Excessive Liver energy can lead to irritability, frustration, and feeling pent-up, along with migraines, high blood pressure, and tinnitus.
The Gall Bladder in TCM is the Yang side of Wood. Healthy Gall Bladder energy is about taking that Vision into the world with action, decision-making, and using wise judgment. Weak Gall Bladder energy can show up as overwhelm, unable to make decisions, or take action, and even feeling fear about moving forward.
So how can you best support your body, mind, and spirit as we transition from Winter to Spring?
So glad you asked! TCM gives us a great guidebook for being our healthiest and living into our potential at each season. Everything in Spring is about supporting growth and movement, but doing it with ease.
1. EAT GREEN!
Green is the color of the Wood element, and it’s also the best kind of food to eat in the Spring! (I’m not talking about green beer, people.) Fresh Spring vegetables are the very best thing you can eat this time of year, and it’s the tastiest time of year for them, too. Sour foods like citrus and pungent foods like garlic are also excellent in supporting the Liver.
Fill your plate with things like….
- Fresh baby greens, like spinach, arugula, lettuce
- Fresh Spring herbs like Chives, Parsley, Mint
- Spring onions
Sounds like a lovely Spring meal, doesn’t it? It’s also important to not overburden your Liver by keeping alcohol, greasy foods, and sugar to a minimum.
2. GET YOUR QI (AND YOUR BODY) MOVING
The Wood element governs the tendons and ligaments, so stretching is one of the best things you can do for your body in the Spring. Staying flexible in your body helps you stay flexible in your mind, too. If there’s anything that will irritate your Liver, it’s being inflexible, preventing natural movement and growth.
It’s good to get moving, too, especially out in nature. Just be mindful not to overdo things. It’s a great time to do some yoga, go for a hike, maybe some Tai Qi in a park. It’s a time to start rebuilding your strength and flexibility after Winter.
3. WRITE YOUR GOALS AND MAKE A PLAN
Take advantage of our natural tendency and start planning and acting on anything that’s been percolating over the Winter. What goals do you have? What lights you up and gets you excited for life? A healthy Wood element helps you to have a clear Vision for yourself and your life, and to make a doable plan to make it happen. Take some time to sit down and dream big! Then write it down and start to make a plan. The energy of Spring is supporting you!
4. GET ACUPUNCTURE!
is so helpful if you’re feeling stuck in any way in the Springtime. It gets your Qi moving and balances out your whole being. In the Spring, it’s common to see an increase in migraines and other headaches, vision problems like increased floaters, blurriness, or just weak vision. We also see a big uptick in frustration, irritability and feeling stuck or pent up.
Acupuncture can also help tame your Spring allergies, eczema, and itching, and help you get healthy in time for Summer. Chinese herbal medicine
and supplements like quercetin, stinging nettle, and NAC can make a huge improvement, too.
Book your acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jennie today. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better fast. You’ll leave each appointment feeling better than when you came in, and see big improvements over the course of treatment.
Let it be easy, and start taking care of yourself now!
Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness