Why does knowing about the change of seasons, according to Chinese medicine, benefit you? Chinese medicine offers us guidance for when to be paying closer attention to acupuncture and herbal treatment, as a way to balance the body and elements. This can be beneficial even when you are feeling generally well. The time period of February 1 to February 15, 2022 is the best time to receive seasonal treatment for spring.
Spring is the time of the Wood element in Chinese medicine, which includes the Liver and Gall Bladder. Symptoms of imbalance in these organ systems can manifest as neck pain, sciatica, headaches, allergies, digestive difficulties, gynecological problems, and various other symptoms. To learn more about this see my articles Benevolence – The Virtue of the Liver and The Function of the Gall Bladder in Chinese Medicine.
Now that we have discussed stems and branches, it is possible to add to this understanding. The first Earthly Branch of the year, and the one that always corresponds with the beginning of spring, is Tiger. The corresponding Heavenly Stem rotates through wood, fire, earth, metal, and water; for the first lunar month of 2022 it is Water. February 2022 and the entire year of 2022 are characterized by Water Tiger. However, Tiger is fundamentally associated with the Metal element and the corresponding organ of the Lung. For this reason, particularly from the perspective of classical Chinese medicine, the first month of spring also has association with the Metal element and the Lung.
In terms of acupuncture, this perspective offers more complex and nuanced considerations for treatment. The Metal and Wood Elements; the Lung, Large Intestine, Liver and Gall Bladder; the energetics of the month, season and year; and individual constitution and physiology can all be considered when applying a “seasonal” treatment.
For example, if a person has lung issues and is being treated in the first month of the year, it might be useful to include Liver 4 which is the metal point on the Liver (wood) channel. This point can harmonize the functions of the Liver and the Lung, the Wood and Metal elements, and specifically treat respiratory problems that involve the Liver. According to Chinese five phase theory, the Lung exerts a controlling and regulating function over the Liver. The process of respiration aids in the Liver function of smoothly circulating Qi and Blood in the body. Impaired Lung function can cause Liver Qi to become stagnant. This in turn causes the Liver to “overact” on the Lung, impairing the Lung function of Descending and Dispersing. In a practical sense, this might manifest as cough. Pulse and tongue diagnosis, along with consideration of cosmological factors, can help to determine what factors are at play when a given symptom manifests. (To learn more about why these terms are capitalized, read this brief article Why are Some Chinese Terms Capitalized.)
For more in depth information regarding cosmology and treatment in Chinese medicine, see Classical Chinese Medicine and the Six Qi. To learn about the Chinese herbal treatment for spring, see my article on Green Bird.