Symbol of the Tao
Health Through the Seasons
by Dr. Joseph Odom, OMD, L.AC.

One of the last things I remember hearing from my teacher, an amazing elderly master acupuncturist from China, as I was finishing acupuncture college was "I am not your true teacher. Your true teacher is your patients."

I had not been in practice long before the meaning of this lesson came dramatically home. In mid-March a woman I had been treating for depression for some months called me from the psychiatric ward at the local hospital. She had been admitted for a suicide attempt.

I thought I had been doing everything "right" with her to help with her depression. I called my old teacher and asked him what he thought was up. He suggested I restudy the teachings on the energies of the seasons. I recall he added something like, "with your new teacher, perhaps this time you will pay attention."

What I learned that year was that March is the time of year when all those things we have been giving power to by herbal tonification or even by the power of thought will rise up. The energy of the earth herself is rising. We humans, standing between heaven and earth, are a conduit of that energy. Our energy rises also.

"Springtime can mess you up the most," says the old jazz standard, and it is the truth. The Liver energy is active now. Emotions associated with the liver (wood) element are such things as anger and frustration. Look at what is up this March. It just might be coming from a deeper place in us than we first think.

Getting through spring is another matter. Other doctors of Oriental medicine and teachers of mine had interesting strategies for getting through spring. One would just put all his patients on herbal sedatives. Another would go on retreat and leave his students to answer the phone! My suggestion is not so dramatic. This is the time when we should take extra silymarin. It works synergistically with phosphatidylcholine (when taken together) to repair liver cells and seems to calm down the extra anger and frustration as well. Happy spring.

Dr. Joseph Odom, O.M.D., L.Ac. is an acupuncturist in private practice in San Anselmo, California. He can be reached at (415) 258-9551 or at