Live in harmony with the season, your body

Spring is in the air. The trees are beginning to unfurl new leaves and reach for the warmth of the sun.

Chinese medicine looks to the seasons for inspiration and understanding of the body and its natural cycles. Fundamental to this system is the concept of the five elements that comprise both the natural world and our bodies. These elements can work in harmony with each other or become out of balance and result in disease states.

In with good, out with the bad

Living in harmony with the seasons is one of the most basic concepts in Chinese medicine. It's a great time to find the freshest spring vegetables at the market. Asparagus is a wonderful and delicious choice to bring the body into the spirit of the season. Any kind of dark green, lightly steamed vegetable is a healthy choice for your liver.

The liver is the organ that is ruled by the wood element. Herbs like milk thistle gently cleanse and protect the liver. Adding this into your diet alone can be great for your skin and energy level and balance hormones.

How do you know if your liver is out of balance? Symptoms such as PMS, irritability, joint pain and headaches are good indications, according to Chinese medicine. Other signs are skin problems, low energy and seasonal allergies.

A healthy liver nourishes the tendons and ligaments. When it is functioning poorly, diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, tendonitis and bursitis can occur.


Certain medications such as Vioxx, Celebrex and Aleve used by many people who suffer from chronic pain have been shown to significantly increase the risk of heart attacks. This information has left many people wondering how to manage their pain effectively.

Chinese medicine has been used safely with no side effects for thousands of years to treat these symptoms. But is it effective? A recent study on treating osteoarthritis of the knee with acupuncture indicates the answer is yes.

Details of the study, published by the "Annals of Internal Medicine," involved 570 patients. Participants receiving acupuncture vs. other treatment options had a 40-percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40-percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments.

The study divided the participants into those receiving acupuncture and those receiving sham acupuncture. In the case of sham acupuncture, it was impossible for the participant to determine whether a needle was inserted into the area.

Studies like this one are encouraging for Westerners who may be skeptical of the safety and efficacy of alternative treatments.

Dr. Stephen Strauss, researcher and director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said, "For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee."

These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers."

'Superior' doctors

Of course, prevention is the best treatment for any illness. The superior doctor treats a patient before he becomes sick; the inferior doctor treats the patient after he has already become sick.

You can be your own superior doctor by harmonizing yourself with the season. Eat fresh, young greens, exercize often and wear loose fitting clothing to allow freedom of movement. Avoid excess anger, sadness or depression, as this can injure the liver.

Clean out the old and bring in the new. These tips will help you prevent imbalances and stay healthier in the springtime.

Lindsey Lawson is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist for Glow Natural Health Center in Madison Valley.[[In-content Ad]]