Cutlivating Good Health in the Springtime

TCM Wood Element

The Wood Element dominates during the Spring

Spring is a time for planting the seeds that you want to cultivate in your garden and in your life. Its also a time for weeding out what does not serve you.

We look forward to spring. We come out of our winter hibernation ready for a time when everything is warmer and lighter. Green gushes up from underground roots in great spurts of growth that we can refer to as wood energy. This is an energy that can regenerate and renew. But there is another side of spring that is cold, windy, rainy and erratic. It flattens the new plants that are still fragile from their recent growth spurts. And its sudden frost bites the blossoms off the apple trees.

In Chinese medical philosophy each season has an element, and spring is about the Wood element. This relates in the body to the  Liver and to its its energetic functions within the traditional Chinese Medical system. In this system, Liver energy has the qualities of spring. When it is excessive it can gust in bursts of anger, frustration and headaches. When it is balanced, calmness prevails. Because it is one of the energetic functions of the Liver to harmonize these opposite effects, it gets especially stressed during this time of year. The climate outside effects our inner climate and the wood/liver organ system can be especially susceptible to the effects of wind. Wind appears quickly and changes without warning. So we are not just referring to wind, but to all effects of the season that have the wind’s erratic qualities.  We know how wind feels when are standing in it. Inside our bodies we can feel it as dizziness, moving pain, cramps, spasms, emotional turmoil, uncertainty, nervousness, itching and in extreme cases convulsions, seizures and stroke.

What is some common wisdom for taking care of ourselves during this erratic time?

We can dress in layers, being careful about having on hand the proper clothes for changes in the weather. Like the seedling that is bursting forth we still need to be protected when it suddenly turns cold. Bundling up nurtures us and keeps our internal climate stable.

While its traditionally a time for a spring cleaning of your house it can also be a time to do an internal cleanse if fasting is part of your health maintenance routine. If not just sipping on cleansing beverages such as herbal teas of milk thistle, ginger, ginger and scallions, water with lemon or just plain water can be helpful. Its our tendency to do more and eat less during the springtime, so it is an easier time to attempt a fast to to just eat less which can help to rest and rejuvenate our livers

Eat green stuff and avoid over eating, especially of rich, greasy foods that will make your liver, and therefore you, sluggish.

Move your body: do yoga, tai ji, walking or any type of exercise or dancing that you enjoy. This smooths out your energy and if you can exercise in the fresh air its even better. The ancients advised, “Rise early with the sun and take a brisk walk”.

You can channel spring’s flurry of wood energy into a creative project. Maybe design your garden or flower beds. A creative focus helps to keep frustration and anger in check during this time of year when Liver energies are most likely to flare up.

If allergies tend to be a problem, its time to get out your neti pot. Allergies are said to be a wind affliction. Those of you with severe allergy problems know that its time to connect with your ND or MD.

Get shiatsu. It will smooth out erratic energy and drive away sluggishness.


 Karen Kessler LMP ABT

1104 Main Street, Suite 306
Vancouver WA 98660
360 735 9432 or contact

Karen has been practicing Asian Bodywork Therapy for over 20 years. Using shiatsu, tuina and thai massage she can help you in your quest for good health. She works both energetically and structurally to reduce pain and stress, and to promote healing and injury recovery.