Traditional Medicine and the Changing Seasons

Traditional medicines help us align with the seasons.

We can learn a lot from the patterns of nature and the cycle of the seasons. For example, in Chinese Medicine and 5 phases/element theory, each phase is associated with a season (including late summer, the 5th season), along with foods and self care and activities that complement the patterns of energy that prevail for that season. It's not just about what you eat, but what you do and don't do that keeps you in tune and most aligned for health and the season.

In Five phases theory, each phase or season is used to categorize the various internal organs and tissues, sense and other organs,and the properties of medicinals. Here, we look at one of the five different modalities in which Qi, or the vital force of life and health, can manifest, where each phase characterizes a stage in a cyclical process.

seasons health
seasons health

WATER PHASE ( shuǐ): Moistening Downward

Winter is the water phase or element, which is appropriate especially in Portland. This time of year is when we receive one of nature's most abundant gift: ample rainwater. Water, the ultimate yin principle, archetype of the feminine, takes the shape of its container, symbolizing the quality of receptivity. Water lubricates and moves downward. It is “infinitely yielding yet infinitely powerful”. In addition to a cleansing and nourishing quality, it also has the power to transform, as a river cuts into land. Water is the source of life. To unify with water, Paul Pritchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods, encourages a unification with the water principle in the winter. Winter is a time to emphasize “ the yin principle to become more receptive, introspective, and storage-oriented."

In the modern world, harmonizing ourselves with the water principle means making sure we stay hydrated during these winter months where central heating can strip away our skin's natural plumpness. It means nourishing ourselves with soups and teas. It means becoming quiet and still enough to be receptive, introspective, a perceptive blank canvas. Winter is not a time for diet, nor restriction, nor an abundance of activity. It is a time to store our precious energies, to be that seed that is grateful for this season of pause, observance, acceptance, and patience. It is the bottom of the outbreath before the beginning of the inhale that signifies spring, in a cycle of seasons that continues for all eternity.

To learn more about 5 Phases Theory of the seasons and how Chinese Medicine can bring you whole-body harmony, talk with f Root Whole Body's acupuncturists Jon Conant. Call us at 503-288-7668 and we can book a consultation for you.