By: Kim M. Filkins, L.Ac.
There is a lot of history and theory behind Traditional Chinese Medicine when you consider it is a medical system about 3,000 years old. There are five elements and five seasons in TCM. Each element has numerous associations that relate it to the theory of TCM. The elements and their associations provide one way for TCM practitioners to diagnose the ailments of their patients.
The season of spring is the season of the wood element and the liver energetic pathway. Spring is a time of growth and this is evident by all the plants and flowers coming into bloom, as well as the wildlife awakening from the winter slumber. Spring is the time of birth and regeneration. This season tends to be trademarked by optimism and opportunity.
Spring is linked to the wood element in TCM due to the prospects of growth and development. When a tree is nourished properly, it will grow and expand. This is very similar to what happens with the body and spirit within every living being. Just like the wood that makes up the trunk of the tree, we must be able to be flexible and bend, always changing and adapting to whatever comes our way. We need to remain strong and rooted, yet able to give a little if needed.
Wood element people tend to be well motivated and organized. They are planners and doers, always having things mapped out and ready for any situation. These people are completely dedicated to anything they pursue. They tend to initiate creativity and walk a path towards success. However, wood element people can be very vulnerable in their livers. In TCM, the liver and its energetic pathway deal with the ability to freely express emotions and anger is the emotion linked to the liver. When feelings are suppressed or blocked, physical symptoms like hopelessness, indigestion, bloating and resentment can manifest.
The color green is beneficial to supporting the liver’s detoxification function and it also strengthens vision. Incorporating green foods will greatly improve the function of the liver and help keep the wood element personality balanced. And as spring is the time of year when there is an abundance of fresh greens available, it makes perfect sense to incorporate them into the daily diet more regularly.
Along with eating more greens during the spring, it is recommended other healthy habits be incorporated as well. Regular stretching is a good way to start and end the day. The liver controls the tendons in TCM, storing blood during periods of rest and releasing it to the tendons during times of activity. Adding yoga or tai chi into the daily routine can be very beneficial for the liver, tendons and the whole body.
Drinks and foods that are sour are believed to stimulate the liver’s healing abilities. Adding lemon slices in your drinking water or using vinegar and oil as a salad dressing are some good examples. However, if you are a person that has anger issues, sour tastes should be avoided, as this can send the liver into overdrive.
When the weather warms in the spring, it is a great time to be more active outdoors. Fresh air helps the liver to function properly and decreases any stagnation being experienced in the body. This can help with anger issues too.
As with any seasonal change, adding acupuncture treatments can be a huge asset, but especially in the transition from winter to spring. Due to the winds picking up and the weather becoming warmer, things like bell’s palsy, allergies or sinus infections can become more prevalent. Using acupuncture as preventive medicine can vastly improve your chances of remaining healthy throughout the transition. So for the sake of your liver and your overall health, be sure to connect with a locally licensed acupuncturist today. You won’t regret it.