Spring Is a Time to ‘Go With the Flow’ in Chinese Medicine

March 14, 2016 Updated: March 15, 2016

The effective treatment of depression and emotional conditions by acupuncture is best explained through the element of Wood, spring, and Liver Qi Stagnation.  Here in the north country, spring is on it’s way (okay almost on it’s way), which is traditionally a time of change, rebirth, and beginnings.  In Chinese medicine, spring also corresponds to the element of wood and the organ system of the Liver, which are all related to the concepts of movement and flexibility.

When we talk about the element of wood, many people immediately think of the hard wood from mature trees.  However, the tiny green sprouts of new plants are also considered wood, and in many ways give us a better understanding into this element.

Plants grow strongly, yet maintain their flexibility. (Singkham/iStock)


The characteristics of plants and wood are also the characteristics of the Liver system in Chinese medicine.  Plants grow strongly, yet maintain their flexibility.  Without flexibility, or the ability to bend, plants will break.  Likewise, one of the key jobs of the Liver system is to govern the strong, yet smooth flow of everything in our body–energy, digestion, menses, and emotions.

Remember to allow room in your life not only for new growth, but also for the flexibility to grow in unexpected directions…

When we are not flexible emotionally, Liver energy, or Liver Qi, stagnates and causes illness.  When we’re stressed or life throws us a curve ball, our ability to “go with the flow” is a huge determinant in our health–both physical and mental.  We live in a world of many wants, expectations and the idea that we can control almost everything.  However, when we don’t get what we want or try to “muscle” a situation that’s beyond our control, we become frustrated or angry, which stagnates our Liver energy.  This is figuratively like leaving a shovel covering the new sprouts in your garden.  Things don’t grow or flow very well.  In your garden the result is crushed and deformed plants.  In your body, the consequences can be broad–depression, digestive problems, insomnia, and pain.

So when you herald Spring, remember to allow room in your life not only for new growth, but also for the flexibility to grow in unexpected directions.  Open your mind to new ideas and experiences, get outside and move, brainstorm new solutions to old problems, and get acupuncture if you need help in moving stagnant energy and emotions.  Above all else, enjoy the incredible phenomenon that is spring!

Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.” This article was originally published on AcupunctureTwinCities.com.