Three thousand years ago, when Chinese medicine was first being practiced, there was no light or electricity. 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 ignoring 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, and 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 equally easy to feel stuck and frustrated if our associated organs are blocked up. 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.
Also connected to the ability to make changes and amp up our energy level in the spring is what we are eating. 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 to support the liver like lemon or grapefruit. Milk thistle tea is also a great drink for this time of year, protecting the liver from toxins and helping it to cleanse itself of toxins that are already present.
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.