Chinese Medicine on Spring

Swollen with the late rains of spring, on the cool, jade-green grass the golden sunshine splashes.” Liu Tzu-Hui Sung Dynasty, A.D. 960-1278

Within the cosmology of Chinese medicine, human beings are regarded as microcosms of the natural universe. We are subject to the same cycles that occur in nature. Spring is a time of rebirth, sudden growth, and rapid expansion. Vital force pushes to the surface, bursting through the quiescent confinement of winter. A crescendo of excitement builds as the life process reawakens. One day the forest appears gray and lifeless, the next day sunbeams cast warm light upon branches brimming with buds.

This burgeoning of activity stirs tumultuous feelings. The changes are expected yet unpredictable–like the birth of a child, the precise day or moment remains a mystery–we know spring will come, but not exactly when. Anticipation foments tension as well as the promise of release.

This is a time for metamorphosis during which our horizon widens and our energies mushroom. Whatever resources have been stored during the darkness of winter are now ready to use as we tap into the primal surging that accompanies this time of new beginnings. We now find the will to initiate and execute projects that have been contemplated, but not yet begun. Spring is creative, volatile, and powerful and so are we as we enter this phase in our annual cycle.

The organ that shares the character of this season is the Liver, tasked in Chinese medicine with the job of instigating movement and arousing the mind by allowing tension and pressure to build. As spring signals the rising of sap in the trees, so the Liver lifts the blood upward and spreads it outward. Alternately gathering and releasing our rivers of blood, the Liver modulates the intensity and force of all body movement and process. Liver congestion occurs when Heat, Wind and Stagnation persist. Foods that supplement the Blood and clear Heat and Stagnation are helpful, like a soup made with chicken stock, leeks, celery, shitake mushrooms, pine nuts, and rice vinegar with lycii berries and red dates. Chrysanthemum flower tea helps to dispel internal Heat and soothe nervous irritability.

Springtime provides the opportunity for the resumption of vigorous outdoor activity. Wear loose clothing and allow yourself to enjoy feeling expansive and alive. Although you will savor the return of evening light, you will still benefit from going to bed early since you may be eager to rise with the sun. Make sure to rest, stay warm, and plan for relaxing down time to balance the new projects that are getting underway.