By Michael Hurley L.Ac. – Co-Founder and Acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center
It has been a long winter and, although I do like winter, I am ready for a thaw. I am sure many of you are as well. In this article, I am going to take a look at how Chinese medicine looks at the spring season. Previously, I wrote an article about winter and that winter is a time of reflection and planning. Spring is a time to start planting seeds for that plan and to start to see them grow.
In Chinese Medicine, the body is made up of various channels or pathways that Qi flows. These correspond to organ systems and have, over the years, been associated with certain characteristics. For instance, the Liver and Gallbladder systems are associated with the spring. The emotion of the Liver/Gallbladder is anger. The element of spring is Wood. When we think of wood, we think of growth, strength, and flexibility. We should keep this in mind when we think of how we are taking care of ourselves this spring. Spring has an outward movement quality to it. This is why many chronic conditions will worsen in the spring. They have been lying dormant all winter and come out in the spring just like a seedling.
The key for good health in the spring is movement. Get outside and enjoy nature. This is an exciting time and staying indoors is going to promote depression. Allow the outward movement to take place. Wear loose clothing and stay flexible. Proper stretching before and after exercise will prevent injury and make your time outdoors so much more enjoyable. Wearing loose clothing will help the body to vent which will prevent heat from accumulating. Staying properly hydrated will support your increase in exercise as well by feeding the cells and regulating your body temperature. Remember, spring is the season of the wood element. Wood needs water to stay flexible and so do you.
To nourish the Liver, we want to clean up our diet. In regards to foods, eat lots of green foods as green is the color of the wood element. The taste of the wood element is sour. Sour foods stimulate the Liver Qi so try adding sour foods into your diet. Putting lemons in your water is a good way to do this. Cleansing the Liver is a good way to avoid common spring conditions like allergies, eye disorders, and any other heat conditions. Some more liver cleansing foods are garlic, grapefruit, apples, and beets. Foods like celery, cucumber, bananas, and pears will help to clear excess heat that may be accumulating in your body. You will know there is heat accumulating in your body if you notice signs such as bad breath, constipation, darker urine, and a thicker tongue coating.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope you enjoy the new season. Remember to visit your acupuncturist regularly to prevent illness and injury. Please try to eat locally. It not only helps out local farmers but the food will be in tune to you and your surroundings.