Bundle up for spring? It sounds contradictory (well, not here in Wisconsin), but the winds and dampness of spring are still too harsh for the weak internal Yang of the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is the season for renewal and new growth, a time when the Yang (hot) energy rises and projects. This is why during spring, it is important to practice ’Wu’ (bundling up) to nurture your Yang energy. Think of nurturing sprouts in a greenhouse – preserving the hot energy to allow for growth and protecting them from any exterior cold that may be lingering.
Spring is the season of activity – break out, loosen up, and move after the restful time of winter. It is also the season to mind the wind, both in the environment and in our bodies. Wind can be found any season, but can be more potent this time of year because the Liver is sensitive and susceptible to its effects. Wind is both destabilizing and unpredictable, it can strike quickly and cause superficial symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose or upper body aches. As it rustles the leaves of the trees in nature, wind can also stir things about inside the body. On an emotional level, it can cause manic depression, nervousness, and emotional turmoil. Internally, wind will move things around giving rise to headaches, wandering pain, migrating (arthritic) joint pain, swelling, spasms, skin rashes, numbness and cramping.
protect your Wind Gate
Because the springtime weather in Wisconsin is especially unpredictable, we need to be more careful about exposure to cold. While the external temperature is changing and adjusting to the new season, keep the body’s internal climate as stable as possible by layering and wearing warmer clothing that keeps in the heat. In TCM, the nape of the neck and the upper-back is an area referred to as the “Wind Gate”, and is the place where all of the Yang channels of the acupuncture meridians intersect. Be sure to protect this area with a scarf or coat, it will help to protect you from both the wind and the cold.
the season of the wood element and the Liver.
The principles of the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) show that all change occurs in five distinct stages. Each of these stages are associated with a particular time of year, a specific element in nature, and a pair of organs in the body. This also relates to the movement of energy and the balance of yin and yang. Spring is represented by the wood element and includes the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder. Liver health is reflected externally through the eyes and the nails (which are considered to be an extension of our tendons). The Liver nourishes and moistens our tendons, sinews and eyes, so an imbalance could result in vision changes, itchy eyes, muscle tension and rigidity.
Think of spring cleaning applying to not only to your home, but also to your body. TCM states that the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. That is why during spring it is so important to love your liver and keep your Qi flowing freely.
eat for the Spring.
Remember that spring is the time for energy to float up and anything heavy, such as oil or rich foods, weigh us down and make it difficult for the energy to rise. A simple diet of cooked vegetables, grains, and legumes is best in spring.
Examples of recommended foods for the spring include onions, leeks, leaf mustard, Chinese yam, wheat, dates, cilantro, mushrooms, spinach and bamboo shoots. Fresh green and leafy vegetables should also be included in meals; sprouts from seeds are also valuable. In addition, uncooked, frozen and fried foods should only be taken in moderation since these are harmful to the spleen and stomach if consumed in large amounts. As cold winter keeps us indoors and tends to make us eat too much, people may develop a heat balance in the spring, which leads to dry throats, bad breath, constipation, thick tongue coating and yellowish urine. Foods like bananas, pears, water chestnuts, sugar cane, celery and cucumber help to clear the excessive heat.” For more on seasonal eating, click here.
Welcome Spring! Move forward, give birth to new beginnings and nurture growth.