It's spring in the Northern hemisphere! Spring corresponds with the Wood element in the 5 element system, and looking at the energetics of the Wood element can give us lots of great ideas for staying balanced at this time of year. The cycles of the earth influence all of us earthlings! Temperatures, daylight hours, vegetation... all the things that make up our environment have an impact on us, and traditional practices can be really helpful in maintaining health and balance, even in our modern world.
The sour flavor corresponds with the Wood element, and many of the first spring fruits like berries and citrus have a tangy sourness in contrast to the full sweetness of summer fruits. The sour taste is relaxing and softening - it has an astringent, drawing inward function (think of puckering up your lips after tasting a lemon!), which pulls fluids into the system, helping our tendons and skin be more moistened and flexible. After a winter of bulky clothes, indoor heating, dry air and being stuck inside, the sour flavor helps restore flexibility and refresh us from the inside out. Folks who have issues with hypermobility and joint laxity are advised to stay away from sour foods, especially in excess.
Spring Sour Habit: Lemon Water! Start your day with some room temperature water with lemon juice or a wedge of organic lemon, and sip it through the day to keep you hydrated and flexible. Seasonal foods like dark green veggies, berries and fresh veggies with a vinaigrette are other tasty seasonal ways to access the power of sour.
The Five Elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, are powerful energetic metaphors to help us be in harmony with ourselves and the natural world. My friend and colleague Denise Cicuto L.Ac and I have created a line of Healing Anointing Oils using aromatherapy in sync with the elements. And they're on sale for spring! You can learn more about the Elements and essential oils at a class in Oakland on May 6th, part of the Karma Clinic fundraiser for Feed The People Oakland at Energy Matters Acupuncture.