How Spring’s Arrival Affects the Liver

Winter is drawing to a close, but it seems like the seasons are pulling in two different directions. One day is warm and sunny and another is cold and rainy. On some days, you leave for work in a winter coat, and by the time lunchtime draws near it feels like an entirely different season.

When winter arrives, Nature begins to withdraw—trees lose their leaves, birds fly south, the ground hardens, and water freezes. Cold slows everything down. Everything in Nature enters a period of rest in order to have enough energy for Spring growth. Our bodies follow the same path. We must rest in Winter so our energy can emerge healthy and strong in Spring.

But true Spring occurs in the midst of what we consider Winter. Think about a crocus in the snow. There’s snow on the ground—so the temperature is cold—yet a flower has already bloomed. Energy has already pushed upward and outward through the hardened Winter soil to create new life. This is the true energy of Springtime—and as in Nature, the same energy happens in your body. Within you, there is an energy moving up and outward, even though the external temperature makes you want to stay inside and rest. Ultimately, the climate will change to match the incoming seasonal energy.

TCM believes that each season has its own Qi, or life force energy, and this seasonal Qi allows different things to change. The Liver is the organ related to Spring energy. Just as the energy of the growing crocus pushes through the ground, so too does Liver Qi in your body. If Liver Qi is unbalanced, our bodies will also feel unbalanced as Springtime arrives. Our bodies are always communicating what’s going on deep inside.

Deep imbalances are often relayed as symptoms. The Liver is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of Qi and Blood. It also helps our emotions flow smoothly, so mood swings or anger and bad moods can come from unbalanced Liver Qi. Unbalanced Liver Qi may also present as headaches at the top of the head, high blood pressure, tendon problems, and eye issues, such as blurry vision, floaters, dry or itchy eyes, or a change in vision. Since the Liver has a close relationship with the Stomach, digestive issues like indigestion, bloating and burping can occur, especially in Spring.

So what can you do to help support your Liver and make a smooth transition into Spring?

  1. Stay calm! Take a nice long walk in the park or do other gentle exercises to relax your mind, body, and spirit.
  2. Stimulate your Liver meridian by hitting your legs up and down the insides of your thighs and calves, starting at the ankles, for about five minutes.
  3. Rub the acupressure point called “Taichong” every day to stimulate a key point on your Liver channel. It’s on top of your foot where the big toe bone meets the second toe bone. Press and massage this spot on both feet with your thumb. If it’s sore, you’re hitting all the right spots!