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Harmonize with Spring for Optimum Health

A key concept in Chinese medicine is, “Heaven and man are one,” which implies that we cannot understand our health without considering our surrounding conditions. Implementing simple lifestyle changes can help us take an active role in our own health care and better integrate the momentum of natural rhythms.

        Spring is is associated with the wood phase, characterized by germination and growth. It is the season when life begins anew with a vigorous and energetic quality. As cold gives way to warmth, the yang qi ascends and begins to spread upward and outward. This is the season in which more movement and activity is to be encouraged.

        The nature of this activity is free and comfortable, as evidenced by the Chinese Neijing’s recommendation to breathe fresh air in the morning, walk in the courtyard, loosen our hair and make the whole body comfortable. This is also a good time to do stretching exercises or yoga to loosen up the tendons and muscles. Many consider the spring equinox to be a better time to set new physical activity goals than making New Year’s resolutions, due to spring’s association with growth.

        Emotionally, spring is an ideal time to feel excited about new possibilities, but remain flexible when our plans face adversity. Spring is also a great time to do spring cleaning and unclutter our life, which will allow our activities to flow more freely.

        The associated organ and channel is the liver. Dietary recommendations for spring include eating foods that appear in the spring and are light and dispersing, such as young shoots of asparagus, bean sprouts and green onions. Liver-soothing teas and foods such as chrysanthemum, goji berry, peppermint or mulberry leaf can also be benefical. Dark, leafy greens, including mustard, turnip and collard, sautéed with garlic and turmeric, can invigorate the free flow of qi and get us up to speed with spring.

       Brendan Mattson, LAc, and David Frech, LAc, CWC, CPT, are with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. For more information, visit


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