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Embracing the wisdom of Chinese medicine in Spring

As the world awakens from the slumber of winter, the season of spring brings forth a burst of energy, growth, and renewal. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with its profound understanding of the interconnectedness of nature and the human body, offers invaluable insights into how this season impacts our health and well-being. In TCM, spring is a time of rejuvenation, associated with the Wood element, the Liver, and the Gallbladder. In this article, we'll delve into the qualities of spring, common symptoms that arise, and the ways in which TCM advises us to live harmoniously with this season.



The Wood element

TCM categorises each season according to one of the five elements, and spring belongs to the Wood element. This element symbolises growth, flexibility, and the energy of upward expansion. Much like the growth of trees towards the sun or the blooming of flowers, Wood represents the emergence of life, vitality and renewal.


Liver & Gallbladder organs

Within the framework of TCM's organ systems, spring is closely tied to the Liver and Gallbladder, and by extension of these organs, the tendons, sinews and eyes. The Liver plays a pivotal role in regulating the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood throughout the body. During spring, its influence is most prominent, emphasising the significance of a healthy Liver for overall well-being. The Gallbladder, known for its role in courage, decision-making, and digestion is also influenced by the Wood element during this season.


Wood type people

According to TCM, some people are what we call "Wood" type people. In general, they have similar constitutions or personality types and can be prone to certain types of symptoms. Usually known for their benevolence, kindness, and can-do energy, Wood type people are often determined, honest and straight forward. They're also the type of people that don't like to feel stagnated or obstructed and constantly need freedom and a project or idea to work on. Although they can withstand immense pressure from life, they can also be prone to feeling uptight and tense, so need movement to constantly disperse their energy. They are like bamboo, which constantly grows and moves towards the light.


Common symptoms in Spring

For those with a susceptibility to either a weakness or excessive strength in their Liver and Gallbladder organs, certain symptoms or conditions tend to rise for them as Spring arrives.


Allergies & hay-fever: Spring often ushers in seasonal allergies due to increased wind, pollen and external allergens. TCM attributes this to a Liver Qi imbalance, manifesting in symptoms like itchy eyes, congestion, and irritability.


Mood Swings & menstrual irregularities: Emotionally, the Liver is closely connected in TCM. Imbalances in this organ can result in mood swings, irritability, or even anger during the spring months. The Liver is also closely related to women's health and hormones, thus when the Liver is stagnated due to stress, emotions, overwork and lack of sleep, it is not uncommon to see changes in hormones, pre-menstrual symptoms and irregular periods.

Digestive Issues: As our bodies transition from the hibernation of winter to the active growth of spring, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort. According to Chinese medicine, there is a strong link between the Liver/Gallbladder and the Spleen/Stomach organs. When the Liver becomes too strong, it will act out and control the Spleen, often resulting in symptoms like bloating, reflux, changes in appetite and mild constipation or irregularities in bowel movement and stool quality. Due to the Liver's relationship to Qi movement and emotions, these types of symptoms tend to flare when an individual is stressed or overworked.


Other symptoms: Many other common symptoms which arise in Spring include skin itching and urticaria, dry or watery eyes, acute sinusitis and rhinitis, dizziness, vertigo, headaches and migraines, colds sore, flaring of old chronic viral infections, food sensitivities and symptoms relating to auto-immunity.


 

Living according to the Season of Spring

Dietary Recommendations: TCM encourages adapting one's diet to the season. In spring, opt for lighter, fresher foods like leafy greens, sprouts, and pungent or sour flavours, which support the Liver's functions. Foods such as dandelion greens, lemons, and green tea aid in detoxifying and cleansing the Liver.


Exercise and Movement: Engage in gentle exercises like walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi or Qigong during spring. These practices promote the flow of Qi, helping balance the Liver's energy and reduce stress. Because of the Liver's relationship to tendons and sinews, daily stretching or yoga is one of the best things you can do to keep the Liver Qi moving.


Spending Time Outdoors: Embrace the renewal of nature by spending time outdoors, taking walks, or spending time revelling in the beauty of blooming flowers and trees. Nature's vibrancy aligns perfectly with the energy of spring.


Emotional Well-being: Managing emotions is vital during spring. Practices like meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can maintain emotional balance, preventing feelings of anger or frustration often associated with Liver imbalances.


Sleep: Try to stick to a regular sleep routine, but trying to rise earlier with the sunrise is a great way to harmonise with the energies of Spring.


External Wind: The Liver organ and season of Spring also correspond to Wind. Although its advised to wear more loose, comfortable clothing during this Season, always protect your upper back and neck during especially windy days. This is because the upper back and neck is the area where all the Yang channels meet, and can be susceptible to attack by external wind. Symptoms like stuffy nose, stiff neck and shoulders or onset of colds and flu's can arise.


 

Summary

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is a season of rebirth and growth. By understanding the qualities of spring, recognising common symptoms, and following TCM's recommendations for harmonious living, individuals can tap into the season's energy to enhance physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being

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