Probably the most awaited season of the year (for many people!) and often the hardest to transition into. After the cold, dark hibernating nature of winter comes the light and thrusting energy of Spring. We move from cold to warm(er), dormant to emerging and heavy to light.
Whilst the spirit of Winter is to consolidate the energy we have, the essence of Spring is growth. It’s a transitional season, moving from cold to hot, hosting equinox a time of balance rather than peak.
“Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by (wo)men”- Chinese Proverb
Energy is at the very heart of Chinese medicine. Smooth flowing energy is the key to balance and to health. It describes imbalance as dis-ease and so to achieve balance we must be in tune with our surroundings and ourselves.
Chinese medicine takes it cues from nature. By observing the natural world we can learn to live in harmony to help us stay well. What’s happening externally is happening internally.
So how do we emerge from Winter to Spring with ease? What should we be aware of and what subtle changes can we make at this time to help us stay in balance.
A good place to start is to check out the correspondences and connections that spring weaves within Chinese medical framework.
What Spring Represents
In Chinese medicine everything is related. So Spring has it’s own unique set of correspondences which symbolise it’s qualities.
First and foremost it relates to the element of wood, the epitome of movement, growth and motivation. It’s represented by the colour green, a dominant colour in Spring and its corresponding climate is wind.
Its function is to plan, distribute by flowing freely and to get things done! It’s yang in nature which means it’s about movement rather than rest.
In the body and mind Spring - or rather the element that correlates to Spring – Wood, relates to the functions and liver and the gallbladder. When it’s out of balance it shows up in the tendons, ligaments, eyes, tears and the emotion anger. From a sense organ perspective it’s sound is shouting, taste sour and smell rancid.
The Functions of The Liver: The Yin ‘Spring’ Organ
The livers main job is to free flow energy around the body, any dis-ease that’s affected by movement will be derived from a liver or gallbladder problem. Pain is one of the key issues that arise from a compromised liver. If things don’t flow they get stuck which causes pain.
The liver also has a strong affinity with the digestive organs and can often cause problems such as IBS, acid reflux, hiccupping or burping. Emotionally a liver imbalance will show up or be caused by anger, stress or frustration when emotions get stuck.
The liver also stores blood. It also plays a vital role in the creation of blood which means it has a massive impact on women’s health.
If you suffer from, what Chinese medicine practitioners call ‘deficient’ blood you’ll see it manifest as brittle nails, dry skin/hair, scanty periods, bad sleep, pale skin, dry eyes, ringing in ears. An ideal way to support blood is through nutrition – something like watercress is fantastic for building blood. By the way deficient blood isn’t what causes menopause but, you may experience similar issues around that time and the advice is the same.
What’s Blood Got To Do With It?
Well, as we already know the liver houses and stores the blood. Blood houses emotions and blood is what gives us ‘feeling’ in our body. If we don’t have enough blood we have numbness. So, when you have numbness you know that the blood is not reaching that place and that could be for a number of reasons.
Blood also houses the hormonal system so it’s critical in mid age and beyond. If our hormones are out of kilter, it’s wise to support our blood with food or herbal tonics.
The spiritual aspect of the liver is called the ‘hun’, which always makes me laugh as that’s my best friends ‘pet’ name for me! The hun is what links us as individuals to the universe. Helping to regulates emotions and as you’ll learn later it’s also important for our sleep.
Women And Liver Health
Because our bodies are made to bleed, for the first of our lives at least, the liver naturally has a big impact on our health. Anything that affects our liver, affects our blood and therefore can affect our hormonal health.
If you’re suffering with anything from PMT, heat in the face, painful breasts, a bloated tummy, nausea, vomiting, burping or headaches, heavy or scanty periods then your liver could do with some love. If you experience painful ovulation or periods, become moody, low or angry around your period these are signs your liver needs some support too.
Psychological Aspects of The Liver
The liver is a storehouse of emotions and attitude. It shows up in our purpose, decisiveness (or otherwise) and our courage. The liver makes a great planner or organiser and it really loves adventure.
However, when it’s not quite feeling right it’ll show up as behaviour that’s rigid, lacking in purpose, and repressed anger. This type of stagnation often shows up as explosive, and sometimes hot, anger. When the liver is stuck we can also feel moody or de-pressed, unhappy or gloomy.
The two main issues that affect the mental and emotional aspects of the liver are stagnation and heat. When energy stops circulating freely a blockage occurs. Imagine a stream flowing smoothly, then imagine it with huge boulders in it blocking the flow - water becomes restrained and builds up until eventually it bursts over.
When the flow of energy in your body becomes restrained boom – anger – expressed or repressed, frustration, depression! When your liver is out of kilter you may be on an emotional rollercoaster, feel resentment, aggression, edginess and compulsive behaviours
So, What Can Happen To Our Health In Spring
Many new health issues arising in Spring relate to the Liver or Gallbladder. If we’re already experiencing imbalance in this aspect of our health, things like stuckness, pain or heat, the spring energy can make these issues worse so it’s important to tune in.
If you’re liver and gallbladder are in good health, you’ll move through Spring with ease. The best way to do that is by creating optimum health in the season before so that you don’t bring ‘hangover’ dis-ease with you, making it harder to find balance.
A Quick Note On Spring Climate
As we saw earlier the climate that relates to Spring is wind. And the best way to counter that, at least when you’re out and about is to wear a scarf!
What is worth noting is that wind is unpredictable and when it becomes internal can cause dizziness, cramps, itching, spasms, tremors and things that come and go, for example, twitching, dryness in upper body and possibly ringing in ears.
Self Care In Spring
According to the principles of Yang Sheng ‘nourishment of life’ there are 9 ways to cultivate our health but the 4 most important (the legs of the table) are food, sleep, exercise and taking care of our mind.
So what can we do from each of these perspectives to support ourselves? Here are my top three recommends. If you’d like to delve deeper download my ‘emerging into spring’ event playback here.
Food Support For Spring
- Cut out the booze. Alcohol is heating, heat rises. Anything you can do to keep the body less stimulated and heated will help.
- Add spices to your foods. Not chilli or anything overly heating but moving herbs that help the energy circulate like peppermint, rosemary, turmeric or thyme.
- Small amounts of sour strengthen the liver – it’s yin and it’s cooling – too much can be overly dryiinig and firming – can help with tendons, bladder control, excessive sweating diahorrea, haemorrhoids and prolapse issues
How To Exercise In Spring
- Exercise. An absolute must for any form of liver energy stagnation. Get your body moving, ride, run, walk briskly or even better yoga or qi gong. The more outdoor the better!
- Stagnation is exactly what is sounds like - stuckness, lack of movement - so the best way to deal with it is to move your body!
- Moderate exercise is the best thing to get your qi moving. Get out for a walk on your lunch break, take the stairs, jog for a 5 mins. Do something more than you've been doing, and you'll see an effect.
What’s Happening With Your Sleep?
- According to the Chinese clock, a system which allows us to harness and use the abundant energy at each time on the clock it’s best to be asleep by
- Sleep allows us the liver to regulate qi, process emotions, balance hormones and detoxify the body so being asleep by liver time is key to these functions
- If you’re waking at 3am it tells us that you have a liver
Support For Your Mind In Spring
There’s no doubt about it the psychological aspect of the liver has a huge impact on our lives, especially us women. You can support your mind through good nutrition, exercise and getting the right kind of sleep. But what else can you do to support yourself.
- Stress has a huge impact on the liver. Anything you can do to reduce stress is really helpful. The first step in tackling stress is to recognise it. If you have a liver imbalance taking action can be hard, so, baby steps, whatever you do don’t tackle everything at once. Pick the low hanging fruit and commit to changing the one thing you feel is achievable.
- Essential oils can have an incredible and direct impact on our minds. One of my favourite oils for spring is lavender. Pop some in some boiling water and inhale deeply.
- Acupressure, is a wonderful tool if you’re not already having acupuncture. I love the point yin tang – directly between the eyes. Massage daily, incorporate it into your nightly routine and feel yourself relax deeply.
I hope you found these ancient pearls of wisdom helpful. If you'd like to find out more about the Chinese medicine perspective of Spring you can download my event Selfcare for Spring here. It's a recording of my event in which you’ll learn how to harness this Chinese medicine for your own self-care, with tips and tools to help you embrace the transition from winter to spring.
Plus you'll learn how to activate the ‘must use’ acupuncture point to help you shift your energy and help things flow. Plus 2 useful acupuncture points, with oils, for spring. It's just £15 to download now. Don't forget to join my email list to stay in the loop about latest products and events. Sign up here.
About Jo Darling MBAcC Lic Acu, Founder Menopoised®
Jo Darling is an acclaimed Chinese medicine practitioner with expertise in women’s natural health and the founder of Menopoised® She’s passionate about helping women transition through menopause, whether natural or medically induced and is an experienced oncology acupuncturist.
Jo’s mission is to empower women to live healthier, happier lives sharing her 15 years of clinical experience harnessing the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. She successfully works with patients to support them with mental and physical health imbalances from hot flushes to anxiety, low mood or low energy, migraines, insomnia and much more.
Jo integrates a range of Chinese medical techniques including acupuncture, gua sha, moxibustion and offers lifestyle advice (yang sheng) to help women help themselves. She offers both in person and remote treatment incorporating the use of essential oils to activate specific acupuncture points.
About Bazi Health Readings With Jo
Jo offers Bazi (chinese astrology) health readings to help you to understand yourself better. Through a reading with her you can find out what aspects of your health, mental and physical need more support and find out how to harness your strengths to help you feel better.
What you'll get from a reading:
* Empower yourself with greater self knowledge
* Understand you physical, emotional and mental potential
* Recognise and hone your strengths
* Learn how to support your health weaknesses
If you'd like to find out more about a Bazi health reading with Jo click here.
How Jo’s Cancer Patients Changed Her Life
Her work with cancer patients, helping to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment has been life changing not just for her patients but also for her.
She noticed her cancer patients often experienced immediate and intense menopause symptoms (as a side effect of their treatment) and for some their hot flushes were so overwhelming they couldn’t even drive to her clinic. Menopausal herself and rocked by her best friend’s cancer diagnosis she decided enough was enough.
“I looked around for effective natural solutions, aligned with my principles and ethos that I could recommend to my patients. What I found was nothing. At least nothing that was proven to be effective that women could use at home and get the same effects as seeing an acupuncturist.
That’s when I took things into my own hands and created Menopoised®. Effective, natural, side-effect free and beautiful to boot. Because, quite frankly why shouldn’t products for menopausal women look and feel gorgeous!”
Armed with her extensive knowledge, practise-based evidence and expertise in Chinese Medicine she set about creating beautiful, effective products herself under the brand name Menopoised®.
For when your menopause is too hot to handle, helps get your cool back naturally. Each box contains four ready-to-wear magnets and 24 replacement plasters. Fast-acting, wear anytime and side effect free. Read our FAQs here.
When your menopause is getting you down, our aromatherapy pulse point oils help you Embrace Cool, Find Calm and Be Collected. Each intuitive and thoughtful blend is formulated to harness the natural healing principles of Chinese medicine.
Let the oils ancient botanical wisdom take care of you. Set of 3 x 10ml pulse point essential aromatherapy oils.
Embrace Cool releases the natural essences of wise Clary Sage, calming and balancing Geranium, refreshing Lemon and Cooling Peppermint to help take the edge off those moments of feeling overwhelmed and overheated.
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This luxurious Cool and Calm cream blends pure essential oils to calm the mind, balance the hormones and cool you down when you’re feeling the heat.
When your temperature’s rising Rose Geranium supports hormonal balance and cooling Peppermint brings a breath of fresh air and clarity. Woody Frankincense instills a sense of peace whilst Lavender’s relaxing properties infuse calm. Wise and cool Clary Sage helps to calm the nerves, with an affinity for hormonal health.
Beautifully blended to nourish and restore this Cool and Calm cream harnesses the richly moisturising properties of cocoa and shea butters to help rehydrate and protect tired skin.