Spring is here: Wake up your body and Optimize your health

Since last Summer, we have been sharing blog posts on health preservation in each season. Today, we are wrapping up the seasonal health preservation series with tips on optimizing your health in spring. According to 24 solar terms, Spring refers to the period from the Beginning of Spring (February 3rd, 2021) to the previous day of Beginning of Summer (May 4th, 2021), which includes the solar terms: Rain Water, Awakening of Insects, Pure Brightness and Grain Rain chronologically. 

Spring is the time to germinate and grow, it shifts from cold to warmth. Ice and snow melt, yang qi ascends, various living things come to life and develop. Everything under heaven and on earth overflows with vigor and prosperity. During this time, the yang qi of the human body also conforms to nature to disperse upwards and outwards. Therefore, health preservation should conform to the characteristics of “germination and growth” in spring.

Regulating Daily Life 

In spring, people should go to bed later and wake earlier to fully take advantage of the spring sunlight. Loosen the hair, clothes, and belts, stretch the body and hike in nature.

Yang qi ascends, wind prevails and the climate changes greatly in spring. Especially in early spring, yang qi is slowly growing while cold has not disappeared completely - residual cold waves often attack people.

Furthermore, in spring the yang qi of the human body begins to reach the exterior in spring - the skin pores become loose, and the body resistance against pathogenic cold weakens relatively. - People should be mindful of the attack of pathogenic wind - especially in old people, children and people with weak physique. Always bring an extra jacket to accommodate the ever fluctuating weather from day to night to stay warm. Do not cut down on layering of clothes and sleeping blankets too early/abruptly. 

Wearing a proper amount of clothes keeps the body warm to resist wind and cold (i.e. common cold), allowing the human body to get used to the gradual climatic changes in spring. This can promote the ascending of yang qi of the body and nourishment of yang.

Regulating emotions

In spring, everything on earth comes to life and is full of vitality. When spring is approaching, the human metabolism becomes more vigorous as well. Spring corresponds to the liver - therefore the function of the liver also becomes more active in spring. The liver controls the regulation of qi and blood and prefers free movement, averse to stagnation/depression. Liver’s emotion is anger. 

If the liver qi is free to regulate qi and blood, then people can adapt themselves to the climate changes - they are healthy and free from diseases. Conversely, if the liver qi fails to be free, the liver will fail to regulate qi and blood. In this case, people cannot adapt themselves to the climatic variations, giving rise to the corresponding pathological changes such as dizziness, headache, anger, fatigue, lassitude, thoracic and hypochondriac distending pain and anorexia. 

People with mental disease and hepatic disease are susceptible to onset in spring. Therefore, they should pay extra attention to the regulation of qi and blood during spring - try to be at ease, open minded and optimistic such that the yang qi inside the body can be dispersed and the harmony between the body and external can be maintained. It is not recommended for people to sleep and be alone, remain depressed and withdrawn. Also, avoid becoming angry and upset because anger injures the liver and may induce hypertension, hepatic diseases, wind stroke, etc. 

Spend more time with friends and family to take trips to the nature, sing and dance and become harmonized with the enchanting nature and gentle breeze - this will be beneficial to the hepatic regulation of qi and reap the benefits of the ascending of the spring yang qi.

Regulating Diet

It is suitable for people to eat pungent, sweet and yang-ascending food to conform to the hepatic regulation of qi and blood: Green onion, coriander, jujube date, peanuts

Sour flavour acts on the liver and is astringent in nature - which is not beneficial to the generation and ascending of yang qi, as well as hepatic regulation of qi and blood - eat less sour flavoured goods

In spring, liver can also easily overact on the spleen (wood overacting on earth) or reverse restricts the lung (wood counteracting on metal) - therefore, gastric or pulmonary diseases are liable to occur or worsen in spring. - it’s best to “eat less of sour flavoured foods and more bland neutral and sweet-flavoured foods” to strengthen the spleen: jujube date, honey, lotus seed, Chinese yam, job’s tear (barley)

People with poor digestive function: eat more radishes 

People with heat in lung (i.e. yellow phlegm, hacking cough, sore throat) or for preventing respiratory disease: Mao Gen, Lu Gen, pear, water chestnuts (skinned)

About Physical Training

In spring, ice and snow melt. Everything is full of life. People should often exercise the body to accelerate the circulation of qi and blood - especially because people have the tendency to reduce the amount of exercise during winter.

People should often go outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, they should play ball games, run, shadowbox, etc. Amount of exercise should be moderate and gradual. One should feel happy, relaxed and inspired after a physical training, and not exhausted.

Article written by Karen Tsoi, R. Ac. R.TCMP, Alumni of TSTCM, for reference only, not medical advice.