Are you enjoying the arrival of Spring? I hope this newsletter reaches you happy and healthy. Welcome to the third in a series of newsletters centered around health insights, tips and on staying on an optimal path of health & wellness, from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
Spring Into Wood
Wood is related to the organ and meridian system of the Liver and its partnered organ the Gall Bladder. In this season Wind is predominant, and in our body, like in nature, this Wind element is strong, activating, quick moving and changing. This element and energy system is also in charge of the tissue of the tendons and ligaments and the sense organ of our eyes. Too much Wind however, like in nature, can cause tremors, clutter, local damage and disruption. The goal of this season is to promote the free, calm, easy and smooth flow of energy, and strengthen our defensive immunity system. This is important in order for the organs to continue to function in a healthy state, particularly the Liver and Gall Bladder which has an affinity (both good and bad) to this seasons’ affects. The Liver is in charge of the free flow of Qi (vital energy) and Blood. It governs how much and how fast the flow is. If the energy is too much, too strong, too powerful, or conversely, too weak, the energy in our body will ‘dam up’, get caught and clogged, and cause symptoms like pain, soreness, numbness, itchiness, headaches, itchy or dry eyes, and irritability. On the more extreme side, symptoms may include vertigo, dizziness, migraines, tremors, etc. It is important for our body to have proper circulation in order for all the organs to function properly. If an organ or meridian system is not receiving or giving properly to the circulation of energy, blood, nutrients, etc, an unbalanced state occurs, and symptoms and illnesses start to appear, both physical and emotional. Things that nourish and promote the free flow of Qi in the Liver and Gall Bladder are foods such as carrots, radish, oranges, and spices such as basil, garlic, cayenne, dill, chive and cardamom. Herbal teas that also help promote the free flow of Qi and relax our energy and mind are peppermint, jasmine, chrysanthemum and orange peel.
This season is also a time of allergies because of the arrival of the Wind and the pathogens that are easily carried with it. People with allergies usually do not have a strong defensive immunity system to fend off the strength of the Wind and all the pathogens. Hence, this is a time of year that allergies predominate because the Wind is stronger and overcomes the body’s defences and/or the body is too weak to defend itself.
Wood, the Liver and Gall Bladder, from a psychological and emotional perspective, is integrated with the emotion of anger and stress. If our Liver and Gall Bladder is functioning properly we are able to handle our anger and stress in a healthy way, taking in and reacting to what is worth it or not, and therefore not allowing it to over time affect physiological functions. In this season when Wind is strong, the energy system in the Liver and Gall Bladder in turn is being further activated. However, if it is activated too much, this excessive condition ‘floods’ the system and the flow is disrupted and congested. When the flow stagnates, whether from the environment, our perception of our environment, stress level, injury, trauma, etc, physical symptoms can arise such as pain, soreness, numbness, but also, emotional symptoms can arise as it is a part of this system. Regarding emotions then, this can be seen on both extremes. On the one hand, the tendency can be toward easily being angered or irritable. Hockey, or even world events, at this time of year sees more fighting and more violent physical actions. On the other hand, when the free flow of Qi is impeded, depression can occur, from the simple blues, to major depression, as our emotions and passions get stuck.
From a deeper emotion level, the Liver and Gall Bladder are in charge of our passion in life, our inspiration, our action and assertiveness. Anyone with timidity, lack of passion or inspiration in life, lack of assertiveness, inability to make a decision and follow through with it, may have an imbalance in this meridian energy system. When this meridian system is free flowing and balanced, we are happy, healthy, assertive and passionate.
If you enjoy using aromatherapy at home, using essential oils is a great way to improve the state of our emotions and promote the free flow of Qi. As essential oils go directly to our Limbic system, they directly affect the physiological responses mediated by the Limbic system of how we ‘feel’ about something. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, essential oils go directly to the head and Brain, which house our Shen (Spirit) and hence can directly affect our emotions. Use essential oils like Lavender, Bergamot, Mandarin, Chamomile, Peppermint, to help promote the free flow of Liver and Gall Bladder Qi, reduce stress, irritability, anger, and depression. However, be sure to use good quality, 100% natural oils, as the synthetic, chemical and adultered oils can cause reactions, and there are many essential oils out on the market that are of poor quality. If you are unsure of the quality of your essential oil, please send me and email or give me a call, and I would be happy to advise you.
Since the Liver and Gall Bladder are in charge of the tendons, as well as the free flow of Qi and Blood, any injuries, both chronic and acute, relate strongly to this energy system. The systems’ circulation gets impeded from an injury and we experience symptoms such as pain, soreness, aching, numbness, swelling, etc. We also become more irritable, and feel a little less happy. Any injury (or illness for that matter) that feels worse with stress, is affected by this meridian system and its circulation.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this brief insight on the season of Spring, the element of Wood, and the Liver & Gall Bladder meridian system. If there is any particular topic you would like me to address and answer, please feel free to email me, and I will make sure to cover it at some point in one of the newsletters.
Have a happy and healthy Spring!