TCM And The Seasons

Ah, my favorite time of year is almost upon us once more-Fall. Along with Halloween and crisp, cool nights, this season also brings in the yearly batch of patients with Fall allergies. The first leaf hasn't even turned, and I've already been getting questions about the efficacy of acupuncture for allergies. In case you're wondering, yes, acupuncture is often used to treat allergies, with great success. In our medicine, the Lungs are the gateway to the outside world, and provide a protective layer of qi that surrounds the body and keeps out pathogens. In Western medicine, this qi (called "wei qi") would be the immune system. If the wei qi is strong, outside factors cannot permeate the body, and the person stays healthy. If it is weak, the patient has little defense against these factors, and will get sick frequently, or develop allergies. During a treatment, we build up the outside layer to form a stronger barrier against the elements, which will lead to an improved general state of health.

Did you ever wonder why allergies seem to be most prevalent in the Fall? Well, according to TCM theory, each organ corresponds to a season, and therefore is more sensitive to the energies of that season. The Lung's energy peaks in Fall, and so we are more prone to allergies, colds, and depression at that time.

During the Winter, the Kidney energy is at its strongest. Those with achy bones, low back pain, and knee pain tend to feel their maladies more intensely during this season. People also tend to be more quiet and subdued during the Winter.

During Spring, the Liver is in charge. The Liver is all about change and movement-moving blood, moving the qi upwards, moving forward in life. Spring is the season of change and regeneration, the season when the old fades away and the new cycle of life begins. Due to the Liver's influence, we tend to see more headaches and digestive disturbances in Spring.

Summer rules the Heart, with its fiery aspect. As the seasons grow warmer, the emotions tend to grow more "hot" in conjunction. Think about how much more energetic and quick you feel in the warmer months. And have you noticed how much more often you see fights on a hot summer day? The Summer heat can affect the Heart, causing symptoms of agitation and irritation.

The Spleen holds an interesting position; some say that it thrives in late Summer; other texts say that the Spleen energy isn't connected to any season in particular, but that its energy flourishes during all seasons.