Chinese Medicine and the changing seasons

The Chinese have long believed humans are intimately connected to natural world and as such the seasons can affect our bodies, sleep and our energy.  When we allow our energy to resonate with that of the physical world then we create health and vitality.  Trying to keep the same pace or rhythms regardless of the natural ebb and flow of the world around us will create disharmony and imbalalance.  

Each season has it’s own particular quality, for example, winter is a time for slowing down, conserving and storing.  The qualities that resonate with spring are expansion, growth and enthusiasm, just as a bud bursting into life .  The element associated with spring is wood and just as trees and plants need space to expand and grow, they need to be deeply rooted to obtain nourishment and need flexibility in order to adapt.  However, any restriction to this natural freedom of movement will cause frustration and anger.  A person shouting is often asking for something to change.  Internally this lack of flow may cause all sorts of problems, such as stiffness and tightness in tendons and muscles or a lack of vitality. When you release tightness held in the body you feel more open, energized, creative and expressive, physically muscles become softer, joints increase their range of motion and circulation improves. There is a saying that flowing water will never stagnate or the hinges of a moving door will never rust.  The re-balancing effects of acupuncture and the fluid movements of Qi gong are ideally suited to keep your energy flowing.

In China it is also very common for people to have acupuncture to help them adapt to seasonal changes, for example, from winter into spring or summer into winter.  The idea is to balance a person’s energy so that it is in the best possible shape to move into the new season.  As a result of imbalances, some people might be constitutionally hot in nature and experience symptoms such as headaches, psoriasis or eczema, hayfever or hot flushes and as a result would find the hotter months more difficult, as climatic heat can exacerbate internal heat. Seasonal treatment would reduce heat to help the person improve.  

If a person tends towards being constitutionally cold then they might be more susceptibile to colds, depression, tiredness, or arthritis and find the winter months more problematic. 

The wisdom of Chinese Medicine has always emphasised the importance of aligning your health with the changing seasons, but this is now being recognised by scientists who have found that the seasons can affect our health.…/seasons-may-tweak-genes-that-trigger-s…


Returning to the Fields by T’ao Ch’ien

When I was young, I was out of tune with the herd:

My only love was for the hills and the mountains

Unwitting I fell into the Web of the World’s dust

And was not free until my thirtieth year.

The migrant bird longs for the old wood:

The fish in the tank thinks of it’s native pool.

I had rescued from wildness a patch of the Southern Moor

And, still rustic, I returned to field and garden.

My ground covers no more than ten acres:

My thatched cottage has eight or nine rooms.

Elms and willows cluster by the eaves:

Peach trees and plum trees grow before the Hall.

Hazy, hazy the distant hamlets of men.

Steady the smoke of the half-deserted village,

A dog barks somewhere in the deep lanes,

A cock crows at the top of the mulberry tree.

At gate and courtyard - no murmur of the World’s dust:

In the empty rooms - leisure and deep stillness.

Long I lived checked by the bars of a cage:

Now I have turned again to Nature and freedom