The Magical Mystery Soar part 3 – Free and Easy Wanderer

Yang naturally sprouts upward in the spring and that upward flow can get blocked creating stagnation. Help it flow smoothly by moving your body, being outside in nature and getting your creative juices flowing.

Wood is the element related to spring and which is the beginning of the new cycle of life when yang emerges. This is the year of the yang wood dragon and the dragon’s natural is inherently earth. So wood and earth are themes this season, specifically yang wood and yang earth.

Acupuncture is awesome this time of year to balance the wood and earth energies. Read on to learn about three wood – earth Chinese herbal formulas.

Yang Earth & Yang Wood
When wood energy is constrained (aka Liver Qi stagnation) it can build up and eventually over act on the earth element.
Earth is connected to the digestive system, which can be affected by emotion – notably stress/anger/frustration, which corresponds to wood element stasis. If earth is weak to start with, it will be more susceptible to attack by wood.
Earth = Spleen / Stomach          Wood = Liver / Gall Bladder    
Yang earth = St channel          Yang wood = GB channel          

Keeping emotions inside also leads to constraint of wood energy, which can build up inside until it bursts. So don’t do that!

Three Wood-Earth Formulas

The wood-earth combination puts me in mind of a well-known modern Chinese herbal formula called Free and Easy Wanderer. Just like it sounds like, the formula keeps things moving smoothly. It’s based on the next classical formula.

Free and Easy Wanderer

Chai Hu – Bupleurum

Dang Gui – Angelica Sinensis

Bai Shao – White Peony Root

Bai Zhu – White Atractylodes

Fu Ling – Poria

Zhi Gan Cao – Honey Fried Licorice

Gan Jiang – Dried Ginger

Bo He – Mint

For the pattern of Wood overacting on Earth, or in TCM terms Liver Qi stagnation and Spleen Qi deficiency with dampness and blood deficiency.

Minor Bupleurum is a classical wood – earth formula. It is even more focused than Free & Easy Wanderer on wood and earth. It has both Bupleurum and Scutellaria to treat the wood element, ie course the Liver Qi (Shaoyang). It also has several herbs for the earth element (Taiyin) – Ginseng or Codonospsis, licorice, dates, ginger.

Minor Bupleurum

Chai Hu – Bupleurum

Huang Qin – Scutellaria

Ban Xia – Pinellia       

Ren Shen – Ginseng

Sheng Jiang – Fresh Ginger

Da Zao – Dates

Gan Cao – Licorice

Excess wood constraint and xu wood constraint

Wood constraint (liver qi stagnation) can come from chronic stress which is ubiquitous in our modern world, and is commonly seen in the clinic. Qi stagnation often presents as physical pain or emotion unease or irritability. People with wood constraint may notice that they need to exercise a lot to feel better, since exercising moves the qi and blood.

Wood constraint can come from taxation – this would be a deficient wood constraint pattern and would imply/indicate blood deficiency. It may come with cold.

Wu Mei Wan is a classical wood – earth formula for a deficiency wood pattern with major stagnation in the earth. In this pattern the yang cannot descend normally and instead shoots upward as in headaches, vomiting, insomnia with digestive symptoms and cold hands and feet.

The main ingredient is a prepared sour dried plum (Wu Mei) which gives moist nourishment to the liver blood (wood) so that the holding can relax and function returns to normal.

Nutrition and Lifestyle recommendations for Spring

Regular movement/exercise – 30 min 3-4 x weekly – don’t over do it – include strength training

Sour is the flavor and green is the color of wood. Eat sour foods. Eat greens.

Protect neck from cold and wind. Don’t take off your jacket to early this spring.

Spend time in nature. Green is the color of wood. Hiking, walking, forest bathing.

Earth grounding. Meditations on mother earth.

Let it go exercise – imagine a tube to the center of the earth. Drop excess thoughts and stuff down the tube to recycle back to the earth.

This is part three of the Magical Mystery Soar 2024 series.

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