Staying Healthy with Spring
by Elson Haas MD
In 1972, after completing my conventional Western medical training, I realized that I needed to learn more about health and healing, as in natural and traditional medicine. At the same I moved from a busy city to the beautiful small town of Bolinas on the Northern California coast. Living close to nature and the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean had a profound effect on me, as did getting to work with members of the local healing community, which included pioneering “holistic” physicians as well as natural medicine practitioners, body workers and herbalists. This area was also a Miwok Indian healing ground and a sensitive energy vortex of planet Earth.
My study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also began during this time. I started to create what I now refer to as NEW Medicine – the integration of Natural, Eastern and Western healing therapies. This was also the subject of my first book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons, which shows how we might better align ourselves with the natural cycles of the Earth to achieve optimal health.
Hippocrates, sometimes called the “Father of Western Medicine,” also inspired me. He stated – “Whoever wishes to investigate medicine, should proceed thus; look at the Seasons of the Year and what effect each of them has on us.” I understood that the alignment of health with the seasons was a central part of ancient Western medicine as well as its Eastern equivalent.
The concept of the Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal (or Air), Water and Wood is central to TCM. Everything is comprised of these elements in different combinations and each of them has multiple correspondences including a color, body organs, one of the five senses, a season and so on.
The concept of the macrocosm and the microcosm sees our human body as a miniature universe mirroring the greater universe. Harmony and balance between the two are key to this traditional system of health and healing. Alignment between our outer and inner worlds is also central to our wellbeing.
The Vernal Equinox ushers in the new season and I will never forget my first Spring after I had discovered this essential truth about the cycles of nature and health. Over the years I have become increasingly passionate about understanding such patterns within the universe and how these might affect our wellbeing. Spring became for me a season of real cleansing and renewal, inside and out. Every year it represents an opportunity to clear past patterns, creating space for fresh, new ones to emerge bringing greater health and vitality. And, as an added bonus, lightening up my home and letting go of the few extra pounds I often gain during the winter months!
This illustration from “Staying Healthy with the Seasons”
shows some correspondences of the Wood Element & Spring
We attune to the cycles of the year by stepping forward into each new season with appropriate lifestyle changes.
So, how can we balance our own health in tune with the new season?
The keyword for Spring is “Rejuvenation” and dominant organs assigned to the season are the Liver and Gall Bladder. So, purification is one of the first things we could consider through some kind of detoxifying program. For many years I have led a Spring Cleanse class for patients at my clinic, Preventive Medical Center of Marin in Northern California, and this year I am also offering the same workshop online. See more details at the end of this article.
In the TCM diagnosis model, the health of the Liver can be seen in the eyes, which also correspond with this element/season. As you can see in the chart above, other correlations for Spring include the color Green, which includes green foods. At this time of year I suggest moving our diet away from heavier, warming winter foods towards more “greens,” like salads and other vegetables and fruits, to support our health.
It is also important to understand that within the realm of the natural world some of these interrelated energies support our health while others, especially may undermine us. For example, some wind can energize the Wood element and Liver, but excess may be damaging. This ancient therapeutic system also addresses our changing internal “climates” of thoughts and feelings, like anger, worry, fear, sorrow or joy. It is a subtle and ever-shifting balance that we must learn to harmonize, perhaps with the guidance of a skilled healing practitioner.
Most everyone is inspired by the great self-renewal that Nature displays each Spring. This yearly rejuvenation is, in many ways, an expression of the very same naturally occurring energy that enables our bodies to heal when injured or sick. I see this season as an opportunity for transformation, encouraging us to change our lives from old, unhealthy ways to new lifestyle choices in five key areas—what we eat, our exercise plan, how we manage stress, our sleep patterns and our attitude. I call these the 5 Keys to Staying Healthy and they align with the 5 Elements. You can assess your 5 keys with a free program on my website, www.ElsonHaasMD.com.
We want to move toward a more integrative, preventive and natural approach to health and wellness. This is essentially why I do seasonal group cleanses and detox programs at my clinic and online for those around the globe.
Check the homepage here on my website to find out when I am offering my annual 2-week Spring Cleanse Class online. I hope you will consider joining me for this opportunity to transform body, mind and heart.
Happy Spring and Stay Healthy!