When Spring has sprung, we suddenly have motivation we didn’t have in Winter. We feel more active, might eat a little lighter and start smiling again.
I also start to see some things in my clinic that acupuncture is able to address:
Patients looking for new direction in their lives. They want to harness their energy but can’t quite connect with it, and may be unable to start or finish things.
Patients with frazzled or scattered nerves. Unfamiliar energy that was lying dormant in Winter is now surging through their system.
Patients running on empty. They lack energy stores because they have been propelled into Spring without adequate rest in Winter.
Why? Our prehistoric hibernation…
According to the ancient system of nature (which modern man now generally ignores), in the Winter we are supposed to be hibernating in caves with our stores of food. The lack of light is nature’s way of saying rest: consider it the earth’s giant black-out blind. For the hunters and gatherers, low daylight induced 16 hour naps and a bit of family time around the fire – minus the boardgames. We conserve our energy til some small green buds appear- the sign that a new cycle is beginning.
Industrialisation messed up this system, yet our genetic nature has not fully adapted to a modern lifestyle. Our version of prehistoric hibernation is craving carbs and comfort food, snuggling up to watch Netflix and skipping that workout. Comfort food is the body sending messages to your brain to fatten you up as there is ‘supposedly’ no food til Spring. We don’t like it outside, it’s cold, dark and wet – because we are meant to be asleep!
Spring has sprung
When Spring arrives, some intense energy is ready to be released in our body. This is the beginning of social time with the wider world when every cave person left their snug warm environment. After about six months of resting, they were ready to start hunting again. These days, we see dating apps surge in usership at the beginning of Spring.
In Chinese medicine the liver creates this upward qi (energy) so we are ready to participate in the food chain. If it didn’t create this momentum, we might simply sleep in, miss Spring and end up starving the following Winter. We have innate responses to the the arrival of Spring and they are reflected in what I see in my patients in the clinic.
Acupuncture and the liver/lung block – the body’s ‘mid-season coat challenge’
A common block in 5E acupuncture is called a liver/ lung block (simply a lack of flow between the liver and lung qi). It occurs frequently between March and May, especially in the UK where the weather is, well, rubbish (sorry – harsh but fair).
When we experience signs of Spring, a few daffodils and a day of 16 degrees, the liver releases upward qi. The following day, it’s raining and 9 degrees.
The body panics: ‘Hey where is Spring? I’m ready to go! Oh no, hang on, is it Winter? What’s going on? I feel weird.’
The qi gets repressed and has nowhere to go due to mixed messages – it’s Spring one day, Winter the next. It’s just like the ‘mid season coat challenge’. One false move and you are boiling or freezing depending on the day’s gamble on outerwear.
The symptoms of a liver/lung block can be as follows:
Irrational anger or irritation about things that generally might seem minor.
General increase in anger and impatience.
Slight tightening in the chest if you take a deep breath.
Waking between 1:00 and 3:00am or 3:00am and 5:00am (read more on the Chinese body clock here).
A general feeling of being ‘out of sorts’ – tired, listless but with no specific symptoms.
How acupuncture can help
Depending on the diagnosis (and its level of complexities), most of the issues I’ve discussed can be addressed by Five Element acupuncture. We specialise in adjusting the body to the rules of nature so it can heal itself.
Come in and get me to do your Spring cleaning for you. It’s the perfect time of year to breathe new life into your system.