by Brittany Wolfe – 3rd Year BINM Student
“The seasons change, we change. When we move outside the laws of nature, or resist change, we encounter difficulty. If we learn to live within these laws, we will know health as our friend.” —Elson M. Haas
I am a proponent of living with the seasons; taking cues from our environment for when we ought to connect with our yin energy in winter and when we should tap into our more playful side or yang nature in summer. Luckily for me, one of the modalities of naturopathic medicine teaches much the same. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Five Element theory matches each season with a particular element, organ, colour, taste and so on. If we want to harmonize with the seasons, we can look to these attributes for some guidance. The season of spring is believed to govern the liver, such that many of the following suggestions are made with the liver in mind.
Below are some simple ways to live in alignment with the upcoming season.
It likely comes as no surprise that the colour corresponding to the spring season is green. From the grass, to the leaves, to the sprouting vegetables, vibrant hues of green are abundant. Likewise, the produce we seek during spring should be green: leafy greens, sprouts, wheatgrass, spirulina and herbs such as peppermint, nettles and comfrey. Chinese medicine believes that these foods have an ascending and expanding quality to feed the “yang” nature that is emerging in the season of spring.
- Dandelion greens, in particular, tend to pop up in markets during the spring season and they just so happen to be detoxifying for the liver.
- Sorrel is green in colour and sour in taste; another perfect match for the spring season. Add it to salads, soups or use it to perk up a sandwich.
- Seed or bean sprouts also make the cut for liver-loving foods that match the increasing yang energy of spring. Sprouts are known to be easily digestible and packed with protein, enzymes, vitamin C and some B vitamins. Check your local grocer or experiment by growing your own.
Castor oil packs are a wonderful way to support the liver. Castor oil, derived from the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis), provides a nourishing detox experience when applied topically. This particular oil has been used traditionally to aid in detoxification and reduce inflammation. Student clinicians at the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic (BNMC) are happy to facilitate a castor oil pack in your appointment or you can purchase supplies from our dispensary to create your own at home.
Perhaps most importantly, look for joy in the new season. Spring is revitalizing and filled with new growth. Take note from our plant friends and bloom new habits, try new hobbies and get ready for the upcoming summer season.
The clinicians, supervising doctors and staff of the BNMC are all here to help you get the most out of the seasons.
Author’s Note: There are five seasons in Chinese medicine; spring, summer, late summer, fall and winter.
All information referenced from Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Dr. Elson M. Haas, M.D.