Chinese Medicine and the Changing of the Seasons: Dietary and Lifestyle Advice for Spring
The weather is warming, the birds are chirping and the sweet smell of blossoming flowers is in the air, yes Spring is here. Spring is a time of birth and new beginnings, the energy and movement is expansive, it’s a time when we wake up from the slumber of winter and everything comes back to life. In Chinese medicine the changing of seasons has a great effect on our bodies on all levels, physically, mentally and spiritually. There are certain things, which are relevant to the seasons, which we can do to help us with this transition to ensure good health and prevent pain and dis-ease.
One of the common methods revolves around something we do every day…eat! In Chinese medicine, what we put into our bodies greatly affects our health so in order to maintain good health we should be mindful of what we are feeding it. One of the basic principles is to eat according to the season. By consuming foods that are in season and that are similar in nature to the external environment our bodies are better equipped in adapting to the cyclic flow of the seasons thus maintaining health.
In Chinese medicine spring is associated with the wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder (please note this is not necessarily the Liver/Gallbladder from a western medical view but rather its energetic functioning). If we are unable to adapt to the change into spring common seasonal health problems can include colds/flus or a relapse of chronic disease. For those with an underlying Liver imbalance spring time can aggravate the Liver which can lead to headaches and stiff/wry neck, this can be particularly aggravated when it’s windy.
As your Liver and spring time are associated with the colour green it’s no wonder the recommendation is to eat Greens!! Fresh green, leafy vegetables and sprouts are fantastic options. Green tea is also great at this time of the year, as well as other herbal teas including chamomile, jasmine, peppermint, chrysanthemum and orange peel. To soothe and regulate Liver Qi pungent, sweet flavours are recommended. Some of the recommended foods include onions, leeks, spinach, Chinese yam, dates, along with most grains, legumes and seeds which are sweet in flavour. Herbs such as basil, garlic, cayenne, dill, cardamom and chive are useful as well.
Due to nature of the season light and raw food is recommended, however where possible aim to limit overeating raw, uncooked, foods and avoid fried, and processed foods as these can harm the functioning of the Spleen and Stomach if consumed in excess. Aim to not eat late at night as it may affect sleeping.
Spring’s association with the Liver and Gallbladder can explain the emotional challenges that may be experienced or aggravated during this time. The emotional energy of the Liver/Gallbladder and therefore spring is anger and frustration. If Liver qi is not flowing smoothly and freely and becomes constrained these emotions can arise, and quite aggressively at times which I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself or have witnessed in another at times. To help with this get outside (experience the warm sun and the aliveness of nature around you) and move!! Hike, walk, play sports, try yoga Tai Chi or Qi Gong, whatever takes your fancy now’s the time to start moving. This will get the Liver Qi flowing and you feeling great.
Other recommendations for spring:
- Eat fresh local produce that’s in season
- Great time to start a food/herbal liver cleanse
- As the wood element relates to growth and is Yang in nature it’s a good time to start a new project.
- Get outside and do more outdoor activities
- As weather can change from quite cool to warm in the spring, make sure you dress accordingly with layers
- Come in for an acupuncture treatment or herbal prescription. Chinese medicine works to balance your body and mind and can help to improve overall health. Seasonal acupuncture can help to harmonize your body with the changing of the seasons along with treating any other issues you may be experiencing before they become more serious. In the way you take your car for a regular service you can take your body in to J
Contact myself or a Chinese medicine practitioner near you to see how acupuncture can help you this spring.