Springtime and Your Period According to Chinese Medicine

Essential Takeaways:
  • Understanding the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) during the spring season can offer valuable insights into supporting hormonal health
     
  • From a TCM perspective, spring corresponds to the follicular phase of your cycle, indicating a time for creativity, regenerative growth, and new beginnings
     
  • We’ve outlined how to understand spring from a holistic perspective in order to work with your body and lifestyle so you can feel your best.

Understanding how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views spring and its influence on our bodies provides practical wisdom for naturally balancing hormones and better periods. In TCM, spring aligns with the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, representing a time for renewal and growth. This season is linked with the Liver organ system, and we'll break down how to work with it to feel your best.

Spring and New Beginnings

Springtime in TCM represents renewal, growth, and new beginnings - as evidenced in nature by the sprouting of flowers and plants coming out of winter’s restful dormancy. The restful Yin energy is giving way to the more active Yang energy. There is an increase of energy, both mentally and physically, evidenced by its longer warmer days. Focus and creativity tend to be at full strength, so it’s a great time for planning. It is time to get rid of the old to make room for a new fresh start. A season perfect for connecting to our true selves, expanding our self-awareness and self-expression.

Spring and the Follicular Phase 

In TCM, spring aligns with the follicular phase (day 1 of bleeding to ovulation) of the menstrual cycle, akin to the way summer corresponds to ovulation. Just like springtime in nature represents growth and renewal, the follicular phase is dominated by the development of follicles and growth of the endometrial lining.

Spring represents a transition phase in the menstrual cycle, moving from the nurturing Yin phase towards the more active Yang, slowly growing and rebuilding after the quiet solitude and internal nature of winter. Strengthening Liver Qi by promoting the smooth flow of Qi during this transition supports a seamless shift.

Spring and TCM Associations 

Organ System

Liver

Element 

Wood

Emotion 

Anger

Color 

Green

Climate Factor 

Wind 

Taste 

Sour 


Liver Organ System

The Liver organ system, according to TCM, governs the flow of Qi, influences emotions, and plays a pivotal role in menstrual and hormone health. A balanced Liver contributes to vibrancy, emotional stability, and a smooth menstrual cycle. The Liver plays a critical role in keeping your internal energy highways clear and flowing smoothly so you can respond to everyday stressors with grace and strength. A free flow of Qi is integral to wellness and balanced hormones. 

Wood Element

Spring is associated with the Wood element in TCM. This elemental influence signifies growth, flexibility, and the upward movement of energy—reflecting the dynamic energy of spring. Someone with a balanced Liver organ system will be firm and rooted yet flexible, like a tree, they will bend but not break.

Spring and Anger

Emotionally, spring is linked to the expression of anger. An imbalance in the Liver may manifest as irritability or frustration during this season. Emotional well-being is intricately connected to menstrual harmony, as irritability, anger, and unexpressed emotions lead to Liver Qi Stagnation, which is a main pattern diagnosis (root cause) of pain and PMS symptoms. Keep your Liver happy and smoothly flowing by finding ways to express your emotions.

Spring and Green

Just as the vibrant green hues dominate the landscape in spring, incorporating green foods into your diet supports the Liver. Leafy greens, and sprouts align with the nourishing energy of spring.

Wind

People with an imbalance in the Liver organ system tend to be more sensitive to the wind, it can be extra aggravating. Protect yourself from the wind, especially around the back of your neck – it’s known as the wind gate, which is where illness enters the body and we are especially susceptible in the transitional seasons of spring and fall.

Liver and Sour Flavors

The taste associated with spring is sour. Including sour flavors into your diet with lemon, berries, vinegar, and fermented foods can be beneficial in keeping Liver Qi moving freely.

How Does Spring Affect Your Period?

So what specific influences does spring have on your menstrual cycles? TCM follows the principle of “As Above So Below,” meaning, what is happening in our environment is reflected internally, the nature of spring is characterized by its awakening energy and expanding, blossoming nature can show up internally with traits listed below.

Increased Yang Energy

Spring marks the transition from the restful Yin energy of winter to the more active Yang energy. This shift can impact hormonal balance and contribute to shorter or lighter periods, irregular cycles, and occasionally some spotting. You may also be prone to hot flashes or restlessness at night.

Increased PMS Symptoms 

In TCM, the Liver is associated with spring. This means we are more prone for Liver organ system imbalances to arise, which can lead to symptoms like cycle irregularity,  irritability, frustration, temporal headaches, breast tenderness, and general PMS symptoms. On the bright side, spring being the season of the Liver organ system means it is the ideal time to work with this organ system, more on that below!

Emotional Detoxification

Spring is an ideal time for emotional detox because pent up emotions and repressed anger can cause Liver Qi Stagnation, which leads to more symptoms. Since springtime is associated with the Liver organ system emotions like anger or irritability can sprout up more. Releasing pent-up emotions, especially anger, supports overall well-being and menstrual health.

Movement and PMS Symptoms

Spring encourages increased physical activity and spending more time outdoors. Regular movement helps maintain the free flow of Qi, preventing stagnation that contributes to menstrual irregularities and PMS symptoms. Studies show that movement can help alleviate PMS symptoms.

Spring Lifestyle Tips

Here are a few tips to align your lifestyle with the vibrant energy of spring broken down by each of Elix’s Six Holistic Wellness Pillars:

Connection

Kickstart your mornings with 2 minutes outdoors – a simple yet refreshing way to connect with the lively spirit of spring.

    Recovery

    Give yourself a moment of peace with deep belly breathing; exhale longer than you inhale to reset your nervous system towards a Yin restful state promoting relaxation.

      Stress Response

      It's spring cleaning time! Clear out emotional and physical clutter for a lighter, brighter soul and home.

        Movement 

        Embrace the outdoors and aim to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day doing an activity you enjoy. Break it into shorter bursts if needed. 

          Nourishment 

          Start your day on a cleansing note with warm lemon water. The sour kick is a friendly boost for your Liver organ system, encouraging to flush your system of all the detoxing that took place while you were sleeping. 

            Environment 

            Opt for comfy, loose clothing – tight outfits might cramp the Liver’s style of freely moving, enjoy the breezy, carefree nature of spring!

              What to Eat for Hormone Balance in the Spring

              These foods support the Liver organ system, which in turn will help maintain a healthy hormone balance with less period symptoms.   

              • Fruits: Citrus and berries

              • Vegetables: Sprouts, spicy spring greens, beets, dandelion, asparagus, and leafy greens like spinach and kale

              • Grains: Amaranth, millet, and oats

              • Legumes: Red lentils, mung beans, and tofu

              • Nuts/Seeds: Seeds of all kinds are great during this time

              • Animal Products: Eggs, white fish, chicken

              • Spices/Culinary Herbs: Cilantro, mint, and parsley

              Herbs for Period Symptoms

              In addition to lifestyle, there are many natural herbs that can support you during springtime. Here are a few Chinese herbs that Elix uses in personalized Cycle Balance formulas that are perfect for Spring to support menstrual and hormone health:
              • Chai Hu (Bupleurum): Known for its Liver-cleansing properties, Bupleurum helps detoxify and promote healthy Liver Qi flow for balancing both moods and hormones. 

              • Bai Shao (White Peony): With a focus on soothing the Liver, white peony aids in managing irritability, emotional fluctuations, and softens physical tension. 

              • Bo He (Mint): This herb supports a cool and soothing balance during the energetic spring season, and aligns with the Liver’s association with the color green. 

              • Fu Ling (Poria): Used in TCM to address dampness and support overall well-being. It is said to calm the mind and spirit for emotional stability and alleviate symptoms related to fatigue, heaviness, and foggy brain. 

              TCM and Hormone Health 

              Understanding the impact of spring on your menstrual cycle through the lens of traditional Chinese medicine provides valuable insights into holistic well-being. By aligning with the energetic principles of spring, you can support your hormone health, nurture emotional balance, and thrive in harmony with the season.

              Herbs for Natural Period Relief 

              Every healing journey is different so you need herbal support tailored to your unique needs. The herbs in your personalized Cycle Balance formula are selected based on answers to a free Online Health Assessment, so you know you’ll get the best formula for your needs. Chinese medicine is all about supporting the why behind your symptoms, it’s a holistic approach to root cause healing. We’d love for you to experience the benefits of Cycle Balance today!

              Your path to better hormone balance starts now!

              Sources

              1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542229/

              2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31987230/

              3. Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed., rev., updated, and expanded. Berkeley, Calif., North Atlantic Books, 2002.

              This article was reviewed by Dr. Elizabeth Fine.

              Dr. Elizabeth Fine is currently the Dean of Clinical Education at Emperor’s College, the #2 ranked colleges for TCM. She has been practicing Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine for over 20 years, with a specialization in women’s reproductive health.

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