Three thousand years ago, when Chinese medicine was first being practiced, there was no electric lighting, heating, or cooling. No way to mask the darkness of winter. No way, either, to ignore the longer, warmer days of springtime. Because it is such an ancient practice, a lot of the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine comes from a time when people spent much more time outside, paying attention to the natural world around them. Rather than being removed from the seasonal changes happening in nature, it was easier to see people as part of those changes, and so a lot of TCM centers around finding that connection to the natural world and keeping Qi in balance by mirroring its fluctuations. In the spring, the natural world begins bursting with new life and new growth, so the teachings of TCM at this time of year center around that idea. Each season in TCM is associated with one of the five elements: wood, water, earth, fire and metal. Springtime is associated with the wood element, connecting us to the new buds growing on trees outside. The wood element is associated with the liver and gallbladder, with our vision, and with the emotion of anger. Each of these organs, senses, and emotions can serve as a guiding principle to find balance in the springtime as well as a clue to your acupuncturist about where to focus their work if you are feeling stuck, stagnant, or frustrated.
The liver is associated with planning for the future, and its companion organ, the gallbladder, is all about making decisions and judging wisely. When liver and gallbladder Qi are moving freely, it is easy to engage with the growth and change of springtime, but if our associated organs are blocked up, it is equally easy to feel stuck and frustrated. Anger can be a helpful emotion if it drives us to make necessary changes in our lives, but it can be harmful, too, if we are not able to convert anger into action.
What we are eating is also connected to the ability to make changes and amp up our energy level in the spring. The color of spring is green, mirroring the abundant chlorophyll of the plants outside. TCM recommends eating green foods like kale, chard, and parsley as well as sour foods like lemon or grapefruit to support the liver. Milk thistle tea is a great drink for this time of year, protecting the liver and helping it do its work to cleanse the body of toxins.
Springtime is full of potential, which is exciting and can be overwhelming. There is a lot going on in nature and in our bodies, and it’s a lot to wrap our heads around. I want to help you take full advantage of the energy and possibility of springtime, so if you are feeling stuck or sluggish as we enter the spring months, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for a seasonal tune-up. Acupuncture is an excellent modality to get Qi flowing to all the right places and support your internal wisdom and vision for the future.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health topics and it is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have any questions related to your condition, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention.