“The three months of spring bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. One should attempt to be open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally. Arise early and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Exercise more frequently and do stretching exercises to loosen the tendons and muscles. Emotionally, it is good to develop equanimity. This is because spring is the season of the liver, and indulgence in an excess of anger, sadness, depression or frustration can case injury.”  -Huang Di

In Chinese Medicine, there are five seasons or phases relating to cycles of the day and year. These are fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

Spring is the wood phase – early morning and the season when everything comes alive again. Rain nourishes the ground, and life awakens bringing flowers and leaves to the plants.

The words above, attributed to Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, who lived about 4000 years ago, were spoken at a time when people lived in accordance with the seasons, ate local food (without chemicals), and did not have the convenience of modern transportation or the frustrations of modern, hectic living. Still, it is interesting to see that even in that time, it was suggested that people walk and exercise more in the spring and avoid undue emotional strain.

Spring and morning correlate to the liver, that is to say, the Chinese medicine view of the energetics of the liver and how it relates to the body as a whole.

The Chinese energetics and disease theories were developed before Huang Di’s reign. Their view of disease is much like the view of nature around us. We are affected by wind, damp, heat, cold and dryness. The liver relates to the tendons, the eyes, the emotion of anger, the color green, and the pathogen of wind which can cause spasms. Just as wind causes the limbs on a tree to shake, so can wind in the body cause tremors or paralysis. Lack of proper nourishment can cause the tendons to dry out and leave one susceptible to strains or tears. An unbalanced liver from a bad diet can cause anger and heat to rise up resulting in hypertension, or excessive anger can unbalance the liver with the same result. Since the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy in the body and the smooth flow of emotions, stagnated liver energy will often result in digestive problems such as the western diseases of reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. As examples of Chinese medicine diagnostic terms, those familiar western medicine terms might be called “wind invading the channels” (spasms), “liver qi stagnation” (IBS), or “liver yang rising” (hypertension). However, these descriptions rarely have anything to do with disease of the liver in the western sense.

The body is basically a system of energy channels (meridians) and organ relationships. In a healthy person, the meridians and organ interactions are balanced. Acupuncture uses the points along the meridians to balance the musculoskeletal system, release pathogens and help the organs communicate better. The same effect is enhanced using Chinese herbal medicine and other traditional techniques. Since Chinese medicine takes the whole patient into account, other symptoms are weighed along with the patient’s physical and emotional history, diet, sleep, digestion, elimination and many other aspects so that a full story is developed. Sometimes treatments are simple – there may be short-term but annoying pain in a particular energy pathway and can be relieved in just a few treatments. Other problems may be chronic and involve many things out of balance for which treatments can be longer and more complex.

True Chinese medicine sees the patient as a new patient on each visit because the body and life are always changing. However, the ultimate goal of most treatments is to return patients back to balance and to help them understand how to stay balanced and in good health through lifestyle changes. Meditation, exercise and a reasonable diet are keys to health, and regular acupuncture treatments helps one stay balanced and healthy.

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