Spring has finally arrived! Spring is the time of year when everything awakens and starts to grow. Flowers bloom, baby animals are born. Everyday it seems like things are changing and moving forward. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is the season of the wood element.
In our bodies the wood element is linked to the liver and gall bladder. The Liver channel starts on the 2nd toe, travels up the inside of the leg, circles the reproductive organs, and ends on the front of the body on the nipple line below the 6th rib. The Gall Bladder channel starts on the 4th toe, travels up the side of the body, goes across the top of the shoulder, zigzags on the side of the head, and ends on the outer corner of the eye. On a physical level, this element is responsible for healthy sinews and tendons, eyes, and nail. It is also important for the reproductive function, including the sex hormones, libido, and ability to have a healthy baby. Non-physical functions include decision-making, life planning, healthy ambition, creativity, and generosity.
Unbalanced wood can lead to a number of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. The liver is responsible for the free flow of qi and blood in the body. When this function is obstructed, it can lead to headaches, neck and shoulder tension, high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, PMS, and problems with muscles or tendons. Unbalanced wood energy can also cause eye problems and tremors. On a mental-emotional level, wood imbalance can cause inability to relax, anger, irritability, fatigue, frustration, lack of direction, and depression.
Here are some ways to keep yourself balanced this spring:
Eat a lot of leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine, dandelion, collards, mint). These help keep the liver healthy. If your digestion is weak, make sure to eat them cooked or steamed instead of raw.
Moderate alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, refined sugars, meats, and greasy foods. These can increase stagnation of liver qi.
Promote strength and flexibility in your muscles and tendons by staying physically active. Going for a walk, run, or bike ride in nature is really beneficial for the wood meridians. Stretching, yoga, and qigong are all good to maintain flexibility in the channels.
Let go of anger and resentment. Holding onto those emotions stagnates qi.
Eat lightly and/or go on a cleanse to relieve the digestive stress on your liver and gallbladder
Add lemon to your water or tea in the morning. A little sour flavor is beneficial to the wood channels.
Get acupuncture or other body work to move qi and blood and keep the wood energy in balance.
Wishing you health and happiness this spring!
Sarah Shupe L.Ac.