In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. It is believed that during this time of year, our bodies and minds are naturally more receptive to change, making it the perfect time to focus on self-care and making positive changes in our lives.
In TCM, the Wood element is closely associated with the spring season. In TCM, seasons are associated with elements (among other things) and the Wood element is one of the five elements that are believed to represent different qualities of energy and aspects of the natural world. (The five elements of TCM are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water). The Wood energy of spring wants to rise up and get things done, similar to the sun bringing plants out of the ground to support growth. It is active and energetic, supporting creativity and leadership; given this, we look at ways to support the themes of growth, rebirth, and renewal.
The Wood element of spring is associated with the liver and the gallbladder, which are responsible for regulating the flow of qi, or energy, throughout the body. When the Wood element is in balance, a person is believed to be healthy and able to move forward in life with a clear sense of purpose and direction. However, when the Wood element is out of balance, a person may experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including anger, irritability, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, and headaches. In TCM, the liver is considered to be one of the most important organs in the body, as it is responsible for regulating the flow of qi, or energy, throughout the body. The liver is also believed to be responsible for the smooth flow of emotions, and is associated with the emotion of anger. The gallbladder, which is closely related to the liver, is believed to be responsible for decision-making and the ability to take action.
To support the Wood element and promote overall health and well-being during the spring season, TCM practitioners may recommend a variety of techniques and therapies. Here are a few examples:
1) Focus on seasonal foods
Spring is a time when many fresh fruits and vegetables come into season, making it the perfect time to focus on seasonal foods. In addition, the Wood element is associated with the color green, and is said to represent growth, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to change. During winter, we were eating warming foods such as ginger and sweet potatoes, but we can now start to eat cooler foods to balance us out. Some examples of cooling green, spring foods include mustard green, pea sprouts, kale, and other leafy greens as they start to bloom with the warming weather. Eating healthy is a natural way for your liver to detox. In addition, to protect your gallbladder, it's important to eat a healthy diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. It's also best to avoid greasy and fried foods, as well as processed and refined sugars and carbohydrates.
2) Wake up early and spend time in nature
In TCM, one of the best ways to support the liver is by waking up early and spending time in nature. Take a walk in the park, go for a hike, or simply spend some time in your backyard enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Not only will this help you feel more energized, but it can also help reduce stress levels and promote mental clarity. To wake up early, this means going to bed by around 10pm and rising with the sun. Our bodies do not need to hibernate like we did in the winter to save energy, but we also want to make sure we are rested for the longer spring days ahead.
3) Practice gentle exercise
Spring is a time of movement and growth, and one of the best ways to embrace the energy of the season is by practicing gentle exercise. The seasons are going through changes that affect us greatly. During the spring, don’t shock your system too much with heavy exercise. Warm up first with gentle exercises that are low impact and low stress, while getting your heart pumping and blood flowing. Tai chi, yoga, and qigong are all excellent forms of gentle exercise that can help improve circulation, reduce stress, and promote overall health and well-being.
4) Reduce alcohol
One of the best ways to protect your liver is to reduce the amount of alcohol we drink. We understand how this may be tough, as the warmer weather naturally brings people together and social events start popping back up, but resist the urge to drink all day on the weekends! Try to drink mocktails or cooling teas such as chrysanthemum, hawthorn, or goji berry teas, when you can to create a more balanced approach to drinking. The Ju Hua chrysanthemum varietal is great for your liver!
By focusing on the Wood element and embracing the energy of the spring season, you can support your overall health and well-being, promote detoxification and renewal, and experience greater clarity, focus, and emotional stability. Here’s to warmer weather and sunshine, and to continuing to grow and create the best versions of ourselves!