Balance Your Wood Element in Spring

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by Inger Giffin

“And the day came, when the risk it took to stay tight in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anaïs Nin

Looking out my window, I see a flat watercolor blend of dull browns and grays. For most members of the plant kingdom, dormancy is still the order of the day. Yet over the next several weeks, tiny buds on the trees will burst forth from glossy limbs and sparkling fields will be jumping and buzzing with lush excitement in green!

According to the Five Elements branch of Chinese medicine, each season brings its own energy, which is essential to harness for the balance of the whole and for our health and wellbeing. Spring is associated with the Wood Element and the liver. It’s that tiny sapling, pushing up with all its might and against all odds through the crack in the cement. It’s the powerful trunk of the tree that uproots an entire house. It’s the energy of the Warrior; single--focused, goal--oriented, its eye forever on the target. It’s about growth, forward movement and transformation. Some argue that it is the most powerful element of all, as it is the urge of life itself to express and come out into the world.

The Wood Element reminds us that growth and movement are vital. Without growth, we stagnate, and with stagnation comes a host of problems. If we are stagnating in any area in life, it is precisely in the spring more than any other time that these issues come to the forefront. If we are held back or blocked, anger soon follows.

Along with anger, stagnant wood energy can bring headaches, high blood pressure, pain, muscle tension, and PMS or irregular or painful menses in women. It can cause insomnia, depression and lead to severe digestive issues and asthma.

To balance the Wood Element: • Examine if there are major areas in which you are stagnating: Is there a creative project you keep meaning to start? Is there a major transition you have been too afraid to make? Begin taking the steps NOW to put into place all that you need to make that transition over the next few months. • Begin adding more cooling foods: Particularly good are mung beans and their sprouts, celery, seaweeds (kelp is very helpful for liver stagnation), lettuce, cucumber, watercress, tofu, millet, plum, chlorophyll--rich foods (superfoods like spirulina), mushrooms, rhubarb root or stem, radish and daikon radish. Green is the color associated with wood, so focusing on dark, leafy greens is very beneficial. • Do a cleanse: Chinese medicine rarely recommends intense “cleanses,” as they are composed of harsh herbs which are very depleting. However, since the liver processes all toxins, a gentle cleanse can be beneficial. Several days of a simple brown rice or homemade chicken vegetable soup cleanse can suffice for those with low energy or who get cold easily, while a salad cleanse would be appropriate for those who are always hot. *Since everyone is different, being diagnosed first is the best way to know if these any of the above mentioned foods are indeed indicated. • Practice relaxation techniques and get enough exercise. The liver can be a stressed organ! It wants to be the boss, to have its way, and like a stubborn child when something impedes its course, it can become enraged! Tools for relaxation can effectively direct energy in positive ways. • Release anger or irritability: Move the energy somehow! Use exercise, dance therapy, communication, or noise (screaming at the top of my lungs in my car is my personal favorite for moving some big energy!). • See an acupuncturist: Often just a short series of treatments can correct lifelong symptoms.

We all know the importance of stopping to smell the roses, but now is the time to put the effort into planting the garden that will yield the flowers of many years to come.

Inger Giffin, is the founder of Wisdom Ways Acupuncture in Fort Collins, CO. She has been practicing Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine for 9 years, and has successfully helped thousands of patients in their return to wellness. 970-227-3077,