By Dove Sprout (R.TCM.P), the co-owner of Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a few different theories that guide the medicine. One of which is the five-element theory (Wu Xing) that represents different phases of a cycle and qualities of nature.
The Wood element is probably my favourite to discuss because an imbalance in the Wood element has become quite an epidemic in our high stress, fast-paced lifestyles of modern society. Some associations with Wood are listed below:
- Season: Spring
- Direction: East
- Colour: Green
- Taste: Sour
- Climate: Windy
- Stage of Development: Birth
- Yin Organ: Liver
- Yang Organ: Gallbladder
- Sense Organ: Eyes
- Tissues: Sinews
- Emotions: Anger
- Sounds: Shouting
Spring is here. Green and sour foods are the perfect additions to your diet at this time: sprouts, wheatgrass, alfalfa, dandelion and tender, young leafy greens. It’s also a good idea to continue consuming warm, cooked foods and liquids, in addition to the more cooling foods mentioned above.
Lemon and apple cider vinegar can be beneficial to move bile, especially taking in warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. With the natural rising energy after the depths of winter, taking a break from stimulants and other toxic substances, such as alcohol, refined sugars and rancid or altered fats become easier, therefore spring is the ultimate time to consider a monitored Liver cleanse. Please consult your physician or practitioner before cleansing if you have never done so before, or if your medications or physical health need to be closely monitored.
After a deep rest during winter, spring Wood bursts forward with a certain ferocity that it takes for a sprout to burst out of its seed. It is very important to find ways of moving Wood energy, or it can become knotted and bound. This is the most opportune time to incorporate new stretching or exercise programs, such as Yoga, Tai Qi or Qi Gong into our daily routines to shake the cobwebs out of those sinews. Take advantage of the warmer weather and get outside as much as possible. Take time to listen to the birds and notice the new life and vibrancy that surround you. Savour the moment. Meditate. Spring can be windy so take precautions to avoid getting chilled especially if you are susceptible to colds and allergies.
Emotionally speaking, the Liver is the Yin organ and is responsible for the smooth flow of our emotions. It provides us with inspiration to plan, plot, scheme and daydream. The Gallbladder, the Yang organ, provides us with the drive and determination required to follow through with our plans. When the Wood element is healthy, an individual has a healthy emotional life with an even-tempered, “go with the flow”, happy, fulfilled, passionate, decisive, assertive and inspired way of being. They are able to let go of grudges easily and pick up the pieces and move on when challenges present themselves. They are strong but flexible just like bamboo.
The Liver and Gallbladder are the most susceptible to the harmful effects of stress, typically resulting in a feeling of being “stuck.” An imbalanced Wood element can result in depression, frustration, irritability, rage, resentment, indecisiveness, lethargy, procrastination, lack of assertion, difficulty letting go of old patterns and unfulfilled desires. This is your moment to take an emotional inventory and let go of those thoughts and feelings that are no longer serving you. This can feel overwhelming. Help is available, and sometimes necessary, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the appropriate sources if you need support with this process. Don’t stop seeking until you find the support you need.
Here are some examples of things you can do to nourish your Wood element this spring:
- Increase your movement—start an exercise program of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, walking, dancing, rebounding, swimming, etc.
- Get moving outside as much as possible, tune into nature, and listen to the birds sing.
- Savour the moment.
- Meditate. This is an internal energy movement and allows your neurotransmitters to rebalance themselves connecting you with your most authentic self.
- Laugh…a lot. Laughing is free and it frees up bound Wood energy very effectively.
- Practice random acts of kindness. Making other people happy gives a sense of purpose and fulfillment and is a direct route to feeling happy yourself.
- Spring clean your home but remember to leave out a couple of warmer layers.
- Try something new or spontaneous that is out of your usual comfort zone.
- Forgive as much and as often as you can.
- Check things off your to-do list
- Spring cleanse to help remove the build-up of toxins from your system
- Enjoy a sauna, steam, or soak to help with detoxification
- Get a facial and/or body treatment to slough off that dull, winter skin
Dove Sprout and her husband, Paul Gaucher (R.TCM.P), co-own and operate the Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre located in downtown Creston. For more information or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-428-0488. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, you can e-mail Dove at email@example.com or check out her website acupuncturecrestonbc.com.