I was reminded yesterday about the effects of the seasons on people’s disharmonies. In Asian medicine, the spring season is related to the organ called Liver and the element of Wood in the 5 Phase system. One of the symptoms of Liver disharmony is Wind, typified by spasms, quivering and shaking, or any symptom that comes and goes fairly frequently. We are seeing a lot more cases that we would call Wind in the clinic these days. They include upper back, shoulders, and neck spasms, headaches, muscle spasms of all kinds, and things like twitching eyelids. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a case of Bell’s Palsy.
It is so interesting to see, over and over, the insight and wisdom of the ancient Chinese. They observed the cycles of nature, the seasons, and the correlations in human health and disease.
Sometimes to patients, it might seem strange that we say, “you have Liver wind”, but in many ways, it makes sense.
The Liver gets into this state, often because it is not nourished by Blood and Yin, which are naturally depleted by the drying effects of winter, and the less than optimal nutrition of winter. Blood and Yin can be built by eating vegetables and fruits in season, they moisten and nourish. The Liver needs this moist nourishment in order to carry out it’s function of smoothly circulating the Qi. When it cannot smoothly circulate, we have the result of Wind, which demonstrated the lack of smoothness in the movement of Qi.
The flavor of Sour is related to Liver in Oriental Medicine. Sour things help the Liver more smoothly circulate Qi, because when it is running amok, the sour astringency pulls thing back in to order. We use peony root for this in herbal medicine, but things like citrus fruit and other tart fruits can also help this. So, isn’t it interesting that we are getting such a crop of citrus in the grocery stores right now. Take advantage of this.
The element of Wood in the 5 Phases makes sense related to springtime because, obviously, the trees and plants are coming back to life. The sap is rising in the trees. I saw tubes coming from Maple trees into buckets just yesterday in Amish country.
So, happy spring. And may your Liver smoothly circulate Qi.