In the west, spring officially starts on March 21st, when the length of day and night are exactly the same. It is the season of beginnings, of growth and expansion. Nature is waking up from winter’s dormancy, the days are getting longer and warmer. The seeds planted last fall are beginning to break through the earth and bloom. At the same time, we are invigorated with spring’s renewal and feel energized, hopeful and make plans for the year, and maybe for our lives. Especially this spring, with mask mandates lifted and life resuming some sort of “new” normalcy, we feel a sense of renewal that may provide us with inspiration and vision.
In Oriental Medicine, the seasons are represented by the five elements with spring being wood, summer fire, fall metal and winter water. Earth is at the center of these elements and corresponds to what we call “Indian summer”.
The Five Element Theory serves as a major diagnostic and treatment tool in Oriental Medicine and is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships between the environment and us. Each element is associated with an organ, emotion, color, as well as a predisposition to particular physical and physiological imbalance.
Spring corresponds to the wood element, which in turn is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder. Together, these organs regulate the smooth flow of energy in the body. (think about the Liver which regulates the amount of blood that is circulating in your body and the Gallbladder aiding in detoxification and the proper digestions of fats). Both organs are associated with the emotions of anger and irritability. They are the first to respond to stress and can create imbalance in other organ systems.
Did you know that, statistically, suicides are highest in the spring. (The only exception to this is the week between Christmas and New Year.)
I see many patients with “Liver in Excess” (meaning they are stressed), in part because we are a society of “doers” and only pay attention to the body’s needs when it begins to fail us. In addition, the past two COVID years have added more stress and fear. I have made it a habit to incorporate points that soothe and regulate the Liver energy/stress response and balance the nervous system with almost every treatment.
The power of wood is persistent, filled with creativity and drive. When Wood people are in balance, they are great planners, visionaries, and leaders. Wood types have the capacity to see the ‘big picture’, they can make good decisions and manifest their plans. Like a tree that can bend and sway without breaking, Wood types are resilient and often use stress in constructive ways.
Famous wood types: Margaret Thatcher, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Jobs.
When the Wood Element is out of balance, it can become arrogant, pretentious, compulsive and pushing others out of their way without sensitivities for their needs.
They refuse to listen to others, are quick to anger, irritable and domineering.
When the liver energy is deficient, a person may display exhaustion, anxiety and restlessness. They may reach for external stimulants to regulate their emotions.
What do I experience when my Liver /Gallbladder are out of balance
When Liver/Gallbladder energy is in excess:
When stress and tension are high, the manifest in the body as muscular tension, cramps and spasm in the head, shoulders, neck, hips, legs, hands, feet.
Sciatica, tendon injuries, headaches, tinnitus, migraines with visual disturbances, anxiety, irritability, anger, digestive disturbances (ulcers, hiatus hernias, heartburn), cysts and cancerous growths, high blood pressure are all symptoms of liver/gallbladder imbalance.
When Liver/Gallbladder energy is deficient:
Symptom include fatigue and lack of energy, fluctuating blood pressure, P.M.S and irregular cycles, insomnia and restless sleep, allergies, itchy eyes, blurry vision and sensitivity to light, muscle spasms and twitches such as restless leg syndrome, digestive gas, bloating, hiatus hernia, irritable colon.
What can I do to support my Liver and Gallbladder?
Nutritionally speaking, the Liver likes the “sour” taste. That is why starting your day by drinking a glass of room temperature lemon water is a great way to support the liver’s detoxification process and keep your regular. Also good are yoghurt, fermented foods, green leafy vegetables – especially dandelion, nettles and arugula.
Hydrate your body! Drink adequate amounts of filtered water throughout the day.
Herbs – Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer) – I don’t prescribe many TCM herbal formulas, but this is one of my favorites and it works; and fast!Especially for PMS, this formula brings fast relief.
Get moving! Exercise moves any stuck energy. This can be as easy as taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, or stretch. (tendons and ligaments are ruled by the liver and Gallbladder meridian system.)
… and don’t forget to schedule
Your monthly acupuncture balancing treatment!