The Wood Element

As we enter the season of Spring, the Wood Element begins to show its strength and with that the Liver becomes the dominant organ. The Wood Element and Spring are about rebirth, new growth and forward moving energy. It is a time for the seeds of winter to germinate and grow into new life.Spring and the Element of Wood.

This is also a time for the Liver organ complex. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow and distribution of Qi that is essential for achieving and maintaining balance. The Liver is also the emotional and physical detoxification organ. When the Liver reaches its load limit and can’t detox any more, symptoms such as agitation, emotional upset, or tightness in the abdomen can arise. Sour is the flavor of the Liver.  Pungent foods are also generally effective Qi movers. Here are some foods to help keep the Liver Qi flowing during this time of growth and expansion when sometimes we are still buds trying to blossom:


Licorice                                              Dry Orange Peel

Lily flower                                          Fennel

Caraway                                              Garlic

Chive                                                  Kumquat

Chive root                                           Litchi

Dill seeds                                            Marjoram

Radish leaf                                          Star Anise

Sweet Basil                                         Tangerine


Here are some other things you can do to keep the Liver Qi flowing smoothly in the springtime and anytime:


  1. Drink room temperature lemon water.
  2. Use spices that move Qi like peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, turmeric, and thyme.
  3. Avoid overeating.  Try to avoid heavy, hard-to-digest foods like nuts, peanut butter or excess amounts of meat and bread.
  4. Sit down when you eat and chew your food thoroughly.
  5. Breathe deeply into the base of your pelvis for relaxation.
  6. Laugh!! Watch funny shows or movies to help release any harbored anger or resentment. Feelings of frustration and internalized emotional tension need to be resolved as soon as possible, as any stagnated emotion can inhibit the Qi mechanism. The emotions tied to the Wood Element and therefore the Liver are frustration, anger and rage.

Written by Stephanie Gianarelli of Acupuncture Northwest & Associates, an acupuncture clinic specializing in mental health, pain, fertility and pregnancy with clinics in Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma, Washington