Seasonal changes affect everyone on some level. Our responses to the shift, thanks to being an individual, can be varied, subtle or frustrating. Some of us know the seasons are shifting by our allergies and others by a change in sleep patterns or changes in energy or moods.

Wood is the element associated with spring. We are the reflection of nature, we are emerging from winter’s hibernation, the seed’s vital energy is awakening, and will soon emerge from the ground. With that emergence comes a renewal of energy which sometimes sputters and spurts as it starts or surges or becomes a little unruly. The energy of the Liver is part of the Wood element and controls the free flow of energy throughout the body. That irregularity of movement of energy at this season’s start is due in part to the strength and awakening of the Liver energy.

I see Spring coming a little earlier than most. At the start of February, my flower bulbs have fully emerged into new growth and while walking throughout the densest areas of the city I see robins, rabbits, and other creatures that should hiding away. I feel like I am usually a few weeks ahead of the shift. This year I was annoyingly restless between one and three am, wide awake between three and five in the morning, and ready to crash again just as the clock turned to 5:01 am. Some people are unluckier and are wide awake until 3 or 4 am or later. Clients have been coming in with sleep issues for a few weeks, annual exacerbation of shoulder pain, and a few are just starting to arrive with sinus aggravation.

It is at these times that I figure the Liver needs a little love and support. It is time for castor oil packs. If you don’t think you have time for this, you are wrong. If you are surfing the web, losing time on facebook, or watching tv, you could be doing that with a castor oil pack. I suggest avoiding using castor oil packs while pregnant, breastfeeding or during menstruation. If none of those applies to you go out and buy some castor oil and tea towels. Ideally “they” would like you to use undyed wool or cotton flannel, but I just use old white tshirts or tea towels. I run hot water over the cloth, wring it out, apply a thin layer of oil to one side and slap it over the Liver region – the right upper abdomen and rib cage. You can place a large piece of plastic wrap on the towel to insulate it and protect your clothes from the oil and dampness. “They” also suggest soaking the cloth in castor oil and keeping the cloth warm with a hot water bottle. You can improvise. You can reuse the pack multiple times. Store covered in the refrigerator.

I also use herbs and essential oils in conjunction with the castor oil packs and will concoct a combination that will also support the Liver energy.

Essential Oils

Spearmint or Peppermint – to vent heat

Fennel, Lime, Spikenard – to mildly detox

Juniper, Lemon, Oregano – to tonify and calm

Geranium or Rose – to quell mood shifts


Herbal recommendations from a consultation with a practitioner are ideal, but the most accessible mildest supporting herbs are dandelion leaf, milk thistle, turmeric.

You could just drink a packaged herbal tea – Everyday Detox tea or dandelion tea. You want to avoid any detox or weight loss tea that contains rhubarb or da huang if you don’t have issues with constipation. Reduce the caffeine and alcohol, and increase the water, green veggies, and green tea. Increase cardio to assist the consistency in energy flow. Just a short walk through your neighborhood will help or a yoga class.

Happy Shifting into Spring!

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One Response to Spring

  1. mary says:

    i am awake at 1:11. almost chose the dandelion tea (caught my attention for liver function) but instead chose traditional medicines sleeping tea…then i read your blog. i’ll drink the dandelion tea tomorrow.

    i like reading about the wood. i had a dream last night that i saved my friend michelle from a wolf attack. the wolf was going for her leg, which had no calf muscle…i threw a stick at the wolf thereby turning the wolf into a stick. i broke the stick and saved the day!

    now, the tea and an episode of twin peaks…too bad i don’t have any castor oil handy.