Chinese Medicine- The Five Elements: Seasons
Chinese medicine teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons. In Chinese medicine theory, there are five seasons- winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season helps us to change our habits so that we may create more balance between the external environment and our bodies.
The foods and lifestyles that follow the Chinese Medicine aid in keeping one healthy throughout the year and provides the tools to keep the immune systems and organs strong to ward off disease.
Just like bare, dormant trees beginning to grow buds and blossom, we too can embrace spring to remove the old and welcome in a fresh, new experience of health, mental clarity, and emotional well-being. The Liver and Gallbladder are at their peak of activity during the spring, making it a perfect time to focus on supporting their function.
Sometimes an imbalanced liver creates conflict with the digestive organs which results in abdominal distention and pain, acid reflux, or diarrhea. An unhealthy liver and imbalanced respiratory tract can cause itchy eyes, chest congestion, runny nose, sneezing and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergies making spring an excellent time to support and cleanse the liver. Eating more leafy green vegetables, especially when the plants are young, is a simple way to cleanse and refresh the body. Many traditional medicines encourage nettles and dandelion leaves to be incorporated into your diet through fresh leaves or teas to provide a feeling of well-being.
The Liver is the body’s largest organ, known as the body’s master laboratory, in which nourishment for the entire body is stored and distributed. As it has hundreds of essential functions, one main job of the liver includes the formation of blood and the cleansing and filtering of blood to help the body eliminate toxins and ensure its continued liveliness.
The Liver’s main role is to keep everything flowing and thereby avoid stagnation and friction. Chinese medicine states that the Liver rules “flowing and spreading,” meaning it is responsible for keeping the free and easy flow of blood, energy, and emotions throughout the body, mind, and spirits. The liver dislikes stagnation, which is associated with all forms of disease. For example, if a mountain stream is flowing freely, it safe to drink from but if the stream contains pools of motionless water, a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens forms.
The Gallbladder is a small organ that stores and intensifies the bile that was created in the Liver and pumps it into the body and bowel as needed. The Gallbladder helps to utilize the Liver’s vision and make the proper judgments and decisions to turn those visions into a reality.
The Liver and Gallbladder also play pivotal roles in protecting your spleen and lungs, which can affect your immunity and susceptibility to seasonal allergies. They also help you provide flexibility and strength to your tendons and can even work to better your eye health by making your vision clearer.
The color green is predominant in spring and the taste of spring is sour which are perfect places to focus your eating awareness.
Healing springtime foods for detoxification, balancing the Liver/Gall Bladder, and supporting emotional healing:
To protect from spring colds, allergies, and other immune-related challenges, be sure to layer up with scarves and windbreakers. This will help protect your lungs from the effects of excessive wind. Continue consuming warm, cooked foods and liquids, in addition to the more cooling foods listed above.
Also be sure to check out my last blog about the Winter season in Chinese Medicine!