We officially welcome the Spring Equinox on Sunday, March 20. I write “officially” because the unusual rains have prompted the onset of an early spring in the Bay area, so much so that many of our bodies have already begun transitioning into spring well before it officially begins. What does this mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? It means that for many of us, our internal clocks and rhythms are not in sync with the cycle of the seasons, and they will work hard to balance themselves once March 20 arrives. During this time, we might feel “off” as our mind, body and spirit try to find their equilibrium. Uncontrollable feelings of bad temper, irritability, unease or anxiety may arise in response to such changes. Self-judgment may come up when we do not understand why we are feeling this way. Do not worry – this frame of mind is normal and we do not need to be ruled by them.
In TCM, Spring is associated with the Wood element, and the liver and gall bladder organs. Wood is connected to the rising energy and the development of an action. This very much aligns with the way that Spring generates renewal, growth and rebirth. But with Wood also comes emotions such as impulse and anger and at their most balanced states, impulse and anger help dissipate tension and reinstate balance. At their unbalanced state, however, impulse and anger result in feelings of being out-of-control, irritability, self-criticism and harsh judgment of others. You may picture wood that cracks with too little flexibility and nourishment versus healthy and strong wood, flexible enough to withstand a windstorm.
The liver is a vitally important organ that screens the blood for toxins, viruses, and bacteria and plays a major role in supporting the body’s immune system. The gallbladder is located under the liver and its primary function is to store the bile produced by the liver. According to TCM, the liver helps to regulate qi and blood, stores and cleans the blood during sleep and helps to balance emotions. Acupuncture helps balance the liver and gallbladder not only to perform their physiological functions, but also to restore these organs’ deepest functions of energetic regulation and restoring emotional balance. Acupuncture is able to help convert anger and irritability into healthy assertiveness, a much more balanced and relaxed state of being, and a key in strong and healthy relationships with self and others.
In other words, acupuncture during the Equinox helps slow things down and guides us back into our power. We can turn impulse into grounded energy – the sentiment “I’m feeling like my strong self again” comes to mind here. Acupuncture treatments can very much help align our bodies, minds and emotions back in sync with nature because it resets the system in accordance to the change in season, thus making this an easeful and powerful transition.
So be kind to your bodies during this time. Get plenty of rest, hydrate often, do a spring cleaning, get outside and stretch and enjoy the new scents of the Spring blooms, and schedule an acupuncture treatment. As always, I’m honored to help in your journey to health.
I look forward to seeing you soon!
Spring recipe suggestion:
Kale Salad (Kale is great for liver health!)
1 large bunch of curly or dinosaur kale (stalk removed and sliced into ribbons)
The juice of one lemon
1/4 extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh mango, diced small (approximately 1 cup)
2 heaping tablespoons toasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds
Add the kale to a large mixing bowl along with a little kosher salt and half of the lemon juice.
Using your fingertips, “massage” the kale for five minutes, or until the leaves are sweet and tender.
Add a drizzle of olive oil and “massage” for another minute. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms. Add salt to taste.
Pour some of the the dressing over the kale to coat the leaves, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.