Chinese Medicine and Seasonal Health

Spring has sprung and with it come new opportunities and challenges in health. In Traditional Chinese medical theory it is best to build one’s health for the present season in the season preceding it. So, if you gave adequate attention to your health in winter, spring should be an easy transition into increased energy and improved health.

Spring is a time of rising energy, growth and activity. It is a time to eat lighter or to cleanse the body of the fats and heavy foods consumed in winter. The diet should be the lightest of the year and emphasize the ascending and expansive qualities of spring; young plants, fresh greens, sprouts, immature wheat such as barley and other cereal grains. It is best to cook with herbs such as fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf. There appears to be a higher tolerance for complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes, seeds, young beets and carrots. Shorter cooking times and higher temperature such as sauteed and lightly steamed foods are recommended.

The liver is the organ associated with spring. It is a good time to include lemon, lime, mung bean, raspberry and spirulina to the diet.. Barley, radish, parsley and tumeric can also be beneficial. People with liver imbalances will be prone to increased anger or irritability at this time of year. Everything is rising and expanding so that includes tempers as well!

Wind is considered to be a pathogenic factor and a unique concept in Chinese medicine. Wind is often combined with dryness in the spring and this can be a contributing factor to several conditions. Airborne environmental allergies are probably the most prevalent manifestation of this principle. Neck pain or headache from wind directly entering the channels of the head, neck and nasal passages are also common. It might be too hot for hats but a thin headband over the ears and back of neck can circumvent this potential wind invasion.

Most of us seem to be more cavalier in the spring, throwing caution and our many layers of clothing to the wind. Spring is an excellent time to break out of conventional patterns, start new projects and explore options. CHANGE and TRANSITIONS are the best words to describe this season.  Enjoy the food, exercise, energy and freedoms of spring!

Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 17+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.

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