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

We have spent the last few months talking about the energy of spring and the liver. The liver is the ruling organ of the wood element. It might be helpful to continue deeper with this study before moving onto summer.

One of the liver' s important functions, according to Oriental medicine, is the smooth flow of Qi, blood and emotions. Managing the emotions is essential in achieving and maintaining good health. Emotions are meant to flow. We receive so much encouragement in our society to suppress our emotions, that it is little wonder that liver disease is fast becoming a major public health problem. It is best to find ways to release anger and frustration. In many traditional societies early spring included a ritual breaking of old pottery. Breaking something like old pots goes a long way toward releasing anger, frustration and stress.

Oriental medicine understands that the liver is the most important organ in terms of women's health. Its functions of storing blood as well as regulating Qi and blood flow promote a properly functioning menstrual cycle. When this function is impaired, a wide range of symptoms such as irregular or painful periods, headaches and distending pain in the breast. All that has been said the last few months about liver and emotions apply here as well.

Fostering the health of the liver in spring helps maintain the balance of the whole body and creates a foundation of health with which to enter the next season. Finding outlets for the repressed emotions, and herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion, help with this job.

[ Joseph Odom, O.M.D., L.Ac. photo ]
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