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Staying Healthy in the Spring

Can the Weather Affect Your Health?

When I was in graduate school, we spent a couple of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Theory classes learning about body/mind imbalances that are often influenced by the “energetics” of a particular season. I distinctly remember approaching this section of class with careful skepticism; the information seemed too dependent on folk medicine, a term that I was still trying to understand. The concept of folk medicine piqued my interest, but also filled my brain with questions.

At that point, I was still struggling to figure out my approach to medicine.  In my earliest years of graduate school, I was hell-bent on a particular way of understanding the body. I’d been raised in a culture in which Western biomedicine and the scientific method reigned supreme. Everything about TCM, Daoism, and the concept of “slow medicine” (similar to the Slow Food movement) called strongly to me, yet all the information I learned was critiqued, quietly but obsessively.

Much of the information I absorbed in my early grad school years was relegated to what I considered the gray area. I’d carefully process the information, then place it in storage. In the future, I told myself, I’d incorporate this information into my practice only if it could be proven useful. My internship in the clinic would answer some questions, I believed. In the meantime, I’d focus heavily on the parts of TCM that seemed less abstract and more practical – like learning how to stop a headache in its tracks with accurate point location and correct needle technique.

Spring Weather and Your Health: Headaches, Insomnia, and Tempers, Oh My!

Fast forward a decade. I’ve been an acupuncturist in a community clinic for 5 years, and I’ve seen/needled over 10,000 people. I feel confident saying that if there are any “patterns” that show up in the health of my patient population that seem connected to seasonal changes – well, I’m in a good position to notice them!

And I’m only ever-so-slightly embarrassed to report that there is some serious legitimacy to this “folk medicine” that I learned in school (I say this knowing that it drips with the irony and presumptuousness of my younger years in school…in other words, I’ve been SPANKED by TCM, about a zillion times by now!). Actually, the term “folk medicine” deserves its own lengthy blog post.

Nevertheless, seasonal changes can/probably do affect the health of my patients, as well as my own. That being said, for most of us, Spring is the absolute worst!

The worst? Well, the worst in that this season is related to the wood element, and the liver. It’s the season of sudden, extreme shifts. You know, like spring weather…

So what are the common complaints that we see worsen (or arrive) in the spring? Insomnia, neck and shoulder pain, migraines/headaches, skin issues, anxiety, and irritability. If you already deal with one of these health issues – does it get worse in the spring?

I’d get into more detail, but a couple of people have already expertly written about this season and its accompanying health imbalances. They’ve also written about what to do about them!

See here. And here.