Finally we can wake and shake off the dregs of the cold damp winter. The arrival of spring brings warmer temperatures and less frost, the trees begin to bud and flower and the grass starts to grow. In Chinese medicine the season of spring relates to a Yang energy, which creates a growing upward and outward activity in the environment. But don’t forget that what is happening outside is also occurring inside your own body. How could we be any different from the chirping birds and lovely blossom trees?!
What seasonal health impacts can ‘spring’ on you?
According to Chinese medicine each season has a correlating natural element. Spring’s element is wood. Wood is represented by the qualities of growth, life, movement and all living entities. For us humans each element and therefore season is represented in our organ system. Wood is connected to our Liver and Gallbladder. This is where it gets interesting. All the energy and activity of spring will affect both of these organs. If they happen to be imbalanced because of a long winter or perhaps prolonged stress, all the upward and outward energy in our body can become excessive and cause conditions such as migraines, high blood pressure, irritability or hay fever. Sound familiar?
How to make sure you spring into spring!
What can you do to make the most of this seasonal change? Well, rather than fight it, join it. It is time to harness the energy of spring by rising a little earlier in the morning and take a walk. Moderate exercise will help disperse and move your Qi (energy) particularly if you have been more sedentary during winter. Eating relevant foods in spring will also help your body adjust to the season (see list below).
Rather than slow prolonged cooking, use a high heat for a shorter duration such as stir-frying or sautéing. This time of year steaming vegetables is preferable to baking or boiling them. Using these cooking methods ensures the food is not over cooked and it maintains its spring energy and vitality.
If you associate the onset of spring with unpleasant conditions such as hay fever or migraines, some acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine can help. There is often little that can be done to change our environment, such as wind coupled with a high pollen count. However, by finely tuning our internal health and balancing our Qi, we can become much less sensitive or susceptible to particular symptoms or conditions and it is possible to not suffer from them at all.
So embrace this seasonal change and enjoy all that spring has to offer!
While the weather is still relatively cool in spring, try to eat more warming and pungent foods such as:
|Sweet potato||Fennel||Bay leaf|
As the weather warms and heads towards summer begin to include cooler nourishing foods such as:
|Shiitake mushrooms||Pine nuts|
Spring foods courtesy of Food For The Seasons by Wong & Knapsy. Available for purchase at Gardenvale Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Remember if a food is in season from your local climate, odds are your body will like it!