Spring is the season associated with the Wood element in Five Element theory. The Wood element is the manifestation of ‘increasing yang’ energy, where the still (yin) inactivity of the winter is transformed into the expanding, rising growth of new life.
The Wood element is associated with the emotion of ‘anger’. This can be appropriate and healthy (assertiveness), excessive (rage) or deficient (timidity).
The main organ associated with the Wood element is the Liver. In the classical Chinese medical texts, the Liver is described as ‘the General’, responsible for planning and strategy. The Liver channel opens into the eye, and so the Wood element is associated with vision (both physical and mental – sight and foresight). Like the acorn which has the ‘plan’ of becoming an oak tree, we have some kind of plan for how we would like our life to be. We will suffer frustrations that get in the way of our plans (like the stones sitting on the surface of the ground which the growing oak sapling must either push aside or grow around), and we must be similarly assertive and flexible. The tree that does not bend in the wind will be easily uprooted (there were quite a few of those in the early spring this year).
Because of the ‘increasing yang’ and somewhat aggressive nature of the Wood element, the Liver tends to suffer with excessive rather than deficient conditions. I’ve seen quite a few people in clinic suffering with headaches recently. As there is an increase in the Wood energy of our environment, the internal environment of the body responds by raising the Liver Qi. The Liver channel opens into the eye and the Gall Bladder channel (the other organ of Wood) crosses over the sides of the head, so those suffering with headaches to the sides of the head and the eyes may be experiencing what is known as “Liver Yang Rising” headaches. These can be treated by calming and subduing the Liver/Wood energy and by strengthening the Yin (the Yin balances and roots the Yang).
During the Spring the Wood element is strongest, but the Metal element is at its weakest – Metal is associated with the Autumn. The main organ of Metal is the Lungs, and it is often a deficiency of the Lungs which makes people more susceptible to colds (I’ve also seen a lot of these recently) and hayfever.
It is always interesting to see how the apparently abstract philosophies of Chinese medicine have such practical application, and can quite poetically explain and predict the trends in the types of imbalances and illnesses I see in clinic, year after year.