Spring and Oriental Medicine

“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.

Autumn and Oriental Medicine

“In the three months of autumn all things in nature reach their full maturity. The grains ripen and harvesting occurs. The heavenly energy cools, as does the weather. This is the pivoting point when yang, or active phase, turns into its opposite, the yin, or passive phase. It is important to remain calm and peaceful, to gather one's spirit and energy, and to keep the lung energy full, clean and quiet.”

The response of the health minister Qi Bo to the Chinese Emperor Huang Di of ancient China relates the connection between our bodies and nature in autumn. That phrase still holds true today, but we are sometimes so far removed from nature and the seasonal influences that it is hard to understand any connection to the seasons other than our attire.

Wu Xing - the Five Phases

In Chinese medicine, there are five seasons or phases. Autumn is the fourth season in a full year cycle of five:

  • wood/spring
  • fire/summer
  • earth/late summer
  • metal/fall
  • water/winter

Each relate to the movement of energy in nature and to a pair of our internal organs. Autumn is the season of metal, and internally, of the Lungs and Large Intestine. During autumn the days grow shorter and become dryer, the plants lose leaves and sap descends, the gifts of the harvest come, and the year moves to conclusion representing taking in and letting go.

The same is represented internally by the Lungs and Large Intestine – taking in good air and letting go of bad air, receiving food from the digestive system and releasing waste. Also related to these organs and the metal phase are the skin, the nose, and emotion of sadness. Many times, a patient with a problem with the lungs such as asthma will also have allergies, sinus or skin problems, or constipation. Dryness is the pathogen associated with metal. Dry weather can attack the lungs and skin. Internal dryness can affect the menstrual cycle, the tendons, or the colon.

Extreme sadness may also affect health by constricting the energy, or chi, of the lungs, preventing the dispersion of oxygen to the body. Chinese medicine sees the relationship of all the internal organs, the mind and the emotions as completely interconnected. Just as you can’t think of autumn without having a sense of the end of summer or the coming of winter, Chinese medical theory is always conscious of the interplay of all aspects of the body. In health, all the internal organs support each other in a harmonious way.

There are only two ways to supply the body with energy: breathing and eating. Slow, soft, regulated breathing of clean air such as during meditation, tai chi or yoga, will help to keep the body strong and relaxed, and will naturally bring our minds inward, calming our spirit and bringing all the organs increased oxygen. Though many people find aerobic activity relaxing, it is during time of deep breathing and stillness of the body, the emotions and the Spirit within that the oxygen can more fully replenish our systems. Similarly, after the menstrual period, the body replenishes itself to compensate for the loss of blood. Therefore, proper nourishment and fluids are necessary to keep the cycle healthy. The wise people of ancient times knew and practiced this, and prepared themselves for the coming winter by decreasing their activities during autumn and keeping their lungs strong thereby protecting themselves from the bitterness of the coming winter.

Chinese medicine is a full system of medicine which includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Chinese medical massage, tai chi , chi kung (energy work), cupping, and a list of modern techniques. Used correctly, it can correct imbalance on many levels not only during times of injury or disease, but can help preserve balance and support existing health through the seasons. Its diagnosis systems are detailed and intricate, and can help with many of today’s health problems, from all types of pain and internal diseases to problems associated with the menstrual cycle, menopause, and even fertility. It is natural and safe on its own or works well in connection to Western medicine. When choosing an acupuncturist, be sure to check credentials and training. (Licensed Acupuncturists in Arkansas are required to have four years of training at a nationally certified school and pass two national tests on acupuncture and Chinese herbs for licensure in Arkansas.)

I had been suffering with restless leg syndrome for about 5 years and the medicines had not been as effective for me so I searched out alternative resolutions and thought acupuncture was a good possibility and certainly worth a try. Evergreen Acupuncture was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad I came to Evergreen. Martin is so professional and knowledgeable and is very insightful as to what can help not just my restless leg but he has also greatly improved my digestion system which I had also been suffering with for several years. I am a firm believer in acupuncture as a way of healing and improving my overall health and can not imagine doing without it as part of my health care.

Stephanie Sherwin
adopt a Rescue - save a life

My back had hurt for over six weeks. I had gone the traditional route, x-rays, muscle relaxers, pain pills and stretches. Nothing was working for me. After only two sessions with Martin my back no longer hurt. I can now lift my grandchildren, go back to the gym and walk my dogs.

Thanks, Martin.


I cannot remember why I initially came to Evergreen Acupuncture, but I have been getting acupuncture treatments for the last 17 years. Out of the three DOMs that I have received treatment from, Martin is, by far, the most skilled. I now receive acupuncture treatments for everything from sports injuries to daily buildup of stress. My experience at Evergreen Acupuncture is always pleasant and productive. The best hour of sleep I get is in any one of Martin’s calming treatment rooms. I have referred all of my clients seeking to try acupuncture or looking for a good acupuncturist to him and will continue to do so.

Rebecca A. Irons, MMT, CFT, CET

Your treatment changed my life! Had been struggling with bursitis for a year when I came to you for help. I had tried PT, meds and cortisone injections. Nothing provided relief. I was beginning to think I would never run again. You had me pain free and running again after 3 treatments. I went on to complete 3 marathons that year thanks to your help.

Kim. S.

My symptoms included swollen legs, sinus and urinary infections, neck and shoulder pain, and a general tired feeling. Acupuncture treatment goes beyond other therapies I've committed to, and I see it as being several different therapies all wrapped into one. The secret of it all is to find an acupuncturist like Martin, who has talent as well as years of experience.

Elinor P.

After years of suffering from an apparent nerve issue in my neck, I find myself symptom free. Resolved a few days after my appointment.

J. B-B.