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  • Writer's pictureToronto Integrative Medicine Centre

Follow the seasons: Health Preservation in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Updated: Apr 17


Do you update lab tests and talk with your family physician regularly? They might give you suggestions about medicine, supplements to help you prevent certain potential risks of the illness you might have in the future, regards to the results shown in your tests. It is a part of preventive healthcare in the context of the conventional medicine.(1)


Yet, through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine, “Yang Sheng” (养生) , health preservation is the way how we prevent the disease and prolong our lives.




养,means sustain, nourish,生,means life.


“Yang Sheng” originates from Taoist lifestyle. As Taoism classic Laozi Chapter 25 says: "Man follows earth, the earth follows heaven, the heaven follows Tao, and the Tao follows the law of nature.”



Su Wen·Four Qi Regulates the Spirit also shows the relation between the illness and nature: “Yin Yang, and the four seasons, generate the world we are living in and form the law of life and death which encircles our entire lives. If we go against this law, disaster happens; if we follow it, we can avoid severe illness.This is the way how we approach the Tao.”


(阴阳四时者,万物之终始也,死生之本也。逆之则灾害生,从之则苛疾不起,是谓得道。)



Chinese medicine practitioners believe attuning to the season can help us to stay away from illness, to live a sustainable everlasting life. It sounds absurd, and how ?


Simply, we look at a few aspects through lifestyle in general: eat seasonal food, dress according to the seasons, appropriate routine exercise.


For example, abundant wood and green energy burst out in spring, wood corresponds to liver; liver governs smooth qi and blood flow around the entire body. When the liver is balanced, we are energetic, curious, and adventurous, whereas liver energy being held back, we feel stagnated, and are likely to have symptoms such as depression, anger, low appetite or restlessness.



From a perspective of Yang Sheng, here are four tips that can help you to maintain a good relation with the liver:


  1. Eat sour and green food, like Kiwi, green bean, celery, to balance and nourish liver energy.

  2. Go to bed late and get up early.This is the response to the rising energy.

  3. Visit the forest, stretch like a cat, dress enough to keep warm.

  4. Take care of your emotional health, express yourself, don't hold back.


(1)https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001921.htm



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