The Spring is a time of renewal, awakening, expansion, and growth in the natural world. The ancient Chinese paid close attention to what the natural world was doing and while doing so observed that our bodies emulated the natural cycles of the world. They also noticed that with choices we made everyday brought us closer in alignment or out of alignment from those natural forces. The closer we emulated the healthier we would be and we could stave off injury and illness. The further we strayed the opposite would be true. It is these observations that helped them develop practices alongside the Jie qi calendar system. A system that divided the lunar calendar year into 24 segments each with a name and clearly identified markers that helped them know when that jie qi was active. Our month of April is beginning to end on our calendar and in that time we find ourselves in the Jie qi of Gu yu or “Grain Rain.” We see around us the natural world waking up with the appearance of hibernating animals rising from slumber and either siring offspring or taking care those that they birthed over winter. Plants are growing rapidly, trees are leaving and the Spring flowers are in full bloom. Our own bodies are waking up, and finding it easier to maintain healthy metabolism because of temperatures and the amount of light increasing every day allowing our bodies to not have to work hard to keep an even temperature for our metabolic processes. In acupuncture and Chinese classical medicine one dominant channel rules this time of year. The Liver channel, who governs the body’s ability to distribute resources smoothly in order that one might be able to do the things we want to be able to do. If the Liver channel becomes impaired or overworked or even deficient then we feel it in our bodies in very real ways. We may be more agitated and anxious, depressed or feel soreness and pain easily in our muscles. Our vision might be impaired and we may see digestive symptoms like gas, diarrhea or even constipation. Our allergies may be felt more severely and our breathing affected. All of these areas can be affected by this single meridian. So how does one live in accordance to the season? What in your lifestyle choices are healthier ones? If you exercise, great, if you stretch, even better. Stretching helps protect tight tendons and muscles by making them more relaxed, flexible and malleable. This reduces the chance for injury during activities. When you do exercise try low impact warm-ups before anything strenuous. This gives your muscles, tendons and the rest of your body time to build up its potential, also reducing the likeliness of injury. Though things are warming up outside the mornings and evenings are still pretty cool. Be sure to keep your back and neck protected from the elements to prevent getting sick. Sudden temperature changes, cold, wind and damp do make your more susceptible to getting sick. In the area of dietary suggestions to help keep your Liver channel running smoothly sipping on warm white tea throughout the day is best this time of year. Bitter foods like dark green leafy vegetables and the more bitter fruits like grapefruit are perfect for keeping your Liver happy and healthy. Foods not so good for you this time of year are spicy hot foods, lamb, and sweet drinks. The Liver needs foods that help counterbalance its outward expansive nature and bitter foods accomplish this. Spicy foods make you sweat making you more susceptible to the elements, as pores open. Finding activities you enjoy doing, especially if they involve the outdoors is important and with the better weather a great time to indulge. The best prevention of an unhappy Liver channel are things that help relieve stress. The list includes enjoying the outdoors or nature, exercising, hobbies, doing the things you love to do whether its knitting, golfing or dancing, etc. Add a little joy into your ilfe. A healthy Liver channel makes for healthier you and the happier your Liver channel the less pain, more even tempered, more rested and have less symptoms of seasonal allergies. With anything prevention is always the best medicine and following these suggestions puts you on a good path to good health. If you find yourself already experiencing one or more of the ailments we mentioned above please make an appointment today. We can help you get back on the road to good health so you can enjoy our precious Northwest Spring and Summer months.