Wood is the element of Spring, a time of new beginnings.
Plants come alive after being dormant through winter. Young shoots push through the earth, reflecting the ascending and active (Yang) nature of spring. It reminds us to “rise early with the sun” and take “brisk walks.”
The color of spring is green, the color of tender young plants.
One’s appetite is decreased from the heavy diet of winter; fresh greens are a way to naturally cleanse the body of physical and emotional impediments.
This time of year represents birth and growth.
The Wood Element in TCM
In Chinese medicine the Wood element controls the eyes — practicing mindfulness at this time of year will bring clarity of vision, both literally and figuratively.
Spring is the season to attend to the Liver/Gallbladder organ system by eating foods that are lighter and more expansive (Yang):
- young plants
- fresh greens (i.e., scallions, baby spinach, etc.)
- immature wheat
- cereal grasses
This is the time of year when the diet should be the lightest so it can cleanse and strengthen the body/mind/spirit.
Pungent and sweet foods have expansive, rising qualities and are best-suited for springtime meals. The pungent spices – basil, rosemary, fennel, and ginger, for example – will also help keep springtime allergies and colds at bay. In spring, food is best cooked for shorter periods of time, as in sauté, steaming, or simmering.
With poorly constructed modern diets in the U.S. (SAD – Standard American Diet), the Wood element is the most over-burdened organ system. Too much fat, chemicals, intoxicants, and denatured food (processed foods which contain no Qi) all disrupt the intricate biochemical processes of the liver/gallbladder system. Keeping the liver clean with a regular diet of fresh, whole foods will allow it to work at its maximum potential, thereby allowing homeostasis to be maintained without much effort.
On the whole, you’ll feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Looks like a tree:
- joints, bones, jaw more visible
- veins/sinews show easily on hands/feet
- hard faces, 2 types: 1) squarish; 2) little round face, hard like a nut
- tends to be thin
- can eat a lot w/o gaining weight
- wood ears are thin and the antihelix sticks out
- body is firm; strong visible bone structure; eyebrows tend to be straight or downward
- skin can be coarse
- barrel-chested (men)
Thinking as they speak creates an interrupted style of speech (think President Obama):
- love to discuss things
- enjoy giving references
- tend to be independent
- concept of fair and unfair is a big deal
They like things to be categorized: for example many lawyers are Wood. They may find it hard for them to make a decision:
- “analysis brings paralysis”
- can’t give real advice
- “we don’t know enough about this, we need to do more study”
Ethical as seen in spiritual and religious disciplines, has good self-confidence. Can survive door-to-door sales, are persistent and have a wide area of interests. Possess good administrative abilities:
- organizing, classifying, planning
- very convincing
- can rationalize things
- always advocate growth
They tend to be good at research and require a fair chance, an unencumbered path, encouragement and flexibility (needs to set the course for treatment).
Science, computers, languages, analysis, research, army strategy, religion, teaching – verbal talents emphasizes semantics, meanings of words.
To find inner strength and self-confidence create boundaries to reduce intrusion/domination of others. Develop intuition to have a greater sense of certainty in your life path — slow down, cultivate inner peace → act of stillness, mindfulness; practice patience to reduce inner stress; learn to relax or surrender to develop your intuition so life (Qi) can flow harmoniously.
Excerpted from The Five-Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods, by Denise Thunderhawk, L. Ac. For more information, visit her website at www.acupuncture-2go.com.