Transitioning into Spring with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Awakening from the dark, quiet, internal yin of winter into the driven, creative, expansive yang of spring.
While most people may not give much thought to the seasons and how they aﬀect our personal wellness, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a plethora of things to say on this topic.
The four seasons all have specific colors, emotions, foods and even body parts that they are associated with. In addition, TCM acknowledges a fifth season, which is the 2-3 weeks of transition time between seasons.
The glorious time of spring is governed by the liver/gallbladder, associated with the color green and corresponds to the wood element. In a balanced and harmonious state, It is a time of expansion and unfolding; a time of creative inspiration supported by vision and followthrough. Its the ability to be flexible, like the swaying branches of a tree with a “no worries, it’s all good attitude”.
The transitional period between seasons always corresponds with the Earth element. It is governed by the Spleen/Stomach (digestive system) and is associated with the color yellow. In a balanced and harmonious state, we can savor the sweetness of life and of ourselves. We can easily digest and assimilate not only our food and our nutrients, but also our circumstances in life. We are able to trust ourselves and our intuition, while keeping our worries in check.
In the real world, for most of us, its a challenge to experience an idyllic, harmonious and balanced state. Its common to for the liver qi to stagnate or become sluggish in its function. This can happen from unresolved emotion, a less than ideal diet, lack of movement or too much movement and even iron levels below or on the low end of the spectrum. Our digestive systems are constantly taking a beating, not only from the foods we eat and the pesticides pollution and plastics that surround us, but also from the constant worry and emotional onslaught of our current environment.
As a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, the following are common symptoms and issues I see this time of year related to the Wood element of the liver and gallbladder and the Earth element of the spleen and stomach:
- Allergies/sensitivities (environmental, chemical and food)
- Neck/shoulder/back pain
- Digestive issues including indigestion
- Increased menstrual symptoms including PMS, cramping, changes in flow and duration
- Muscle cramps
- Bowel changes
- Heightened emotional responses including:
- Panic attacks
- Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
- Disordered eating
While It is crucial to always seek out help from an appropriate medical professional for any changes in your mental health or symptoms that may be presenting, there are also a myriad of ways that we can help support ourselves.
Moving our bodies, particularly at this time of year, is crucial for both our physical and mental health. Movement helps move the lymph and detoxify the liver, as well as improving circulation and strengthening the heart. It also serves as an excellent tool to improve mood and lessen emotional charge. If you haven’t been moving much over the winter, starting with yoga, qi gong or pilates is a great way to get back into things. Even if you have been active through the winter, this transition time into spring calls for and appreciates the stretching, reaching, twisting and breathing that these types of exercises provide.
Remember that even doing gentle focused movement for 10-20 minutes a day can be enough to change your mood and get your qi and blood flowing. Don’t be discouraged if that’s all the time you have…any movement is good movement!
Spring is a wonderful time to cultivate or develop a practice, specifically ones that inspire our creativity or that connect us back to ourselves and/or the earth. Start the meditation practice you’ve been putting oﬀ, take an art class, take walks or hikes outside, start a grounding practice of walking barefoot in the grass for 5-10 minutes each day, start a focused breathing practice. The energy of spring and of the liver and gallbladder ask for inspiration, forward movement and strong decisions. But, they also ask us to nurture and soothe ourselves, lean in to flexibility and access flow state. We must tend to and cultivate our soil in order to grow and ascend into our potential of transformation.
As you can imagine, the foods that are favorable to the liver and the gallbladder and the season of spring are foods rich in the color green and that have a sour or pungent flavor. We also want to prioritize foods that impact liver cleansing, nourishment and movement of Qi. These foods include the following:
- Green Foods: Foods that are rich in chlorophyll help nourish and rejuvenate the liver. This includes foods like collard greens, parsley, kale, wheatgrass, arugula, spinach, chlorella, spirulina, broccoli and mustard greens.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, barely, millet, quinoa, oats and wheat berries. These grains are not only nourishing to the liver, but also to our earth element, the spleen and stomach.
- Liver: From a TCM perspective. eating organ meats benefits our own organs. Not only does eating liver nourish our own liver, it also helps to nourish the blood and move stagnation.
- Radishes: Wonderful for moving liver qi and aiding in digestion
- Fruits: Raspberries, plums, strawberries
- Sour Citrus Fruits: Sour fruits, especially lemons limes and even grapefruit are great at moving the liver qi and serve as a wonderful gentle detox for the liver.
- Herbs and Spices: There are a number of herbs and spices that are phenomenal for our liver. These include, dandelion, ginger, astragalus, turmeric, schizandra berry, milk thistle, globe artichoke, mint, bupleurum, skullcap and goji berries,
In TCM, we have multitudes of herbal formulas particularly targeted to a healthy and well functioning liver. In my own practice, crafting individualized herbal formulas are at the forefront, and I regularly utilize formulations that support the liver. Im not saying were all frustrated, anxious and maybe even a little angry, but I’m also not, not saying that!
Foods to avoid
In TCM we generally advise staying away from foods that are going to be hard on the digestive system or create a heavy or “damp” environment. These include:
- Processed sugar
The wood element of the spring asks us to get back out into the world and make meaningful connections with our fellow humans. We are a social species, and making time for connection with people we love and enjoy is paramount to our all around health. Given the last few years, now more than ever, this is something we should all make part of our top priority.
I may be biased, but the art and practice of TCM is essential to our overall well being. It is a system that seeks to harmonize every aspect of our being, both seen and unseen. Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine are both phenomenal ways to address any of the physical, mental or emotional issues that may be sprouting up as we transition back into our longer, warmer and brighter days.
2023 is a year of expansion for BIÂN – for our physical space, our community, our offerings, and our service to you.
Dear BIÂN Members and Friends,
The choices we make define us. As the founders of BIÂN, we chose to come together and create BIÂN, with a singular goal of leading a new paradigm of wellness and living well. As members, you each chose to join BIÂN’s community, and in doing so, to continue a path of positive evolvement – to live a vital life. We are on this journey individually and collectively. It is an honor to share space and moments with you all. We are incredibly excited for the future.
2023 is a year of expansion for BIÂN – for our physical space, our community, our offerings, and our service to you – our members. We have learned much these last two years. Our foundation is strong, our leaders are experienced, and our focus remains on constant improvement and elevation in all aspects of BIÂN. While perfection is aspirational, the path to constant improvement is attainable and available to all who seek it – and seek it we do.
Expansion of BIÂN’s Physical Space
As most know, we are in the process of building 9,000 square feet of additional club space to serve our community. We designed this space to address the new ways in which we live, work, and play in this post-pandemic world. The expansion will have hybrid work areas, small private rooms for calls, zoom meetings or 1x1 meetings, large conference rooms with fully appointed audio visual for your business or event needs, a beautiful lounge, dining, and private event space inclusive of a fully appointed bar, a large new kitchen from which to support all our food & beverage offerings, two new studios for expanded fitness, private training, yoga, and meditation, and two ancillary locker rooms. We are confident you will love it!
On Monday, February 27, you will see the first tangible sign of our expansion space construction. We will be closing the Pilates and private yoga room for construction as we incorporate changes to those rooms that will eventually be the entrance to our expansion space. This is a necessary step in the construction process but will create some inconvenience in the short term. Our team has a plan to ensure all our offerings remain available during this work, albeit with some modifications. We expect the duration of the Pilates/private yoga room work to be 4 to 5 weeks.
Currently, the May/June timeframe is our best estimate for the full opening of the expansion space. Like many construction projects, supply chain issues and lead times on various items, have impacted our schedule. Know that we remain diligent in doing all we can to complete the expansion as quickly as possible.
Expansion of BIÂN’s Community
Member experience remains the lens through which we make our choices, including the expansion of our membership. Our new physical space will allow our membership to grow and our member experience to continue to improve. Our commitment always will be to properly balance our member experience while maintaining a vibrant, engaged community.
The BIÂN community is your community. Our goal always has been to grow primarily through our member referrals. So many of you have proudly recommended BIÂN to family & friends. Please continue to do so. We hope and expect to reach a proper equilibrium of members in the next year. More members allow for increased capacity of offerings, expanded club hours, further programming and events, and accessibility. The stronger and healthier our membership is, the better BIÂN can serve all.
Expansion of Our Offerings
Our offerings form the foundation of BIÂN. We will never remain static in this regard. Rather, we will continue to thoughtfully add offerings to fully support our community and our goal of leading in a new paradigm of wellness and living well. For those who have been here from the beginning, you’ve seen significant change in the scope of our offerings. Some reflective of feedback from our membership, and others added as we learn and grow in our mission.
The expansion space of course allows us to add many specific and necessary offerings, including all those mentioned above. We’ve also added new offerings exclusive of the expansion space including:
- Corporate Integrated Executive Physical: We now offer a one-day fully integrated executive physical to members and non-members alike, inclusive of a complete physical with Dr. Marcie Claybon, a dermatological examination, functional movement assessment, nutritional analysis, and a Chinese Medicine appointment with Dr. Sandra Subotich.
- Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Acupuncture with Insurance Billing: We recently added insurance billed services to our menu of offerings. Many members asked to do their PT, Chiro and Acupuncture at BIÂN using insurance coverage – and we made it happen. We have a wide variety of times and dates upon which these services are available to members. Please check the BIÂN app or inquire with our hospitality team – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- BIÂN Beauty for non-members: Our full menu of aesthetic & beauty offerings is now available to your friends & family who are non-members. We have an incredible, experienced beauty team ready to serve. BIÂN members and BIÂN Beauty members receive member pricing. Non-members, however, are welcome to use these specific services but are charged non-member pricing.
- Thought Leadership & Seminars: The wealth of knowledge among the BIÂN Doctors & wellness leaders is unparalleled. In addition to our Corporate Membership offering, we have launched our Thought Leadership Academy to support the well-being, motivation, connection, and inspiration of your organization, team, or group, with custom seminars, workshops, or retreats - designed to directly impact culture & well-being.
- Meal Plans: Plans are underway for a formal meal-plan program offering seasonal and simply cooked foods designed to support your health initiatives without sacrificing flavor and experience. Expect ease of ordering, pick-up, and scheduling – all to be launched hopefully within this calendar year with our new kitchen.
We are truly grateful to be your sanctuary, your home away from home, your place of healing and rejuvenation, and your place of fun and social connection. We each made a choice to be here together – positive choices lead to positive outcomes. Thank you all!
In Good Health,
Joe Fisher, CEO
You should be wearing sunscreen every single day, regardless of how sunny it is outside. Read on for tips on how to protect your skin from the sun's rays.
Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health, beauty, and wellness. But with so many misconceptions about sunscreen out there, it’s easy to get confused. Read on to better understand SPF and keep your skin safe all year round.
How much sunscreen should I be wearing?
For optimal protection, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to all exposed areas of your body – face, neck, arms, legs, etc. – at least 15 minutes prior to going outdoors. If you’re spending extended time in direct sunlight or engaging in activities that cause you to sweat a lot or get wet (swimming/water sports), re-apply every two hours for maximum protection and reapply after swimming/toweling off. And don’t forget about other parts of your body like the tops of your feet and ears!
What kind of sunscreen should I be using?
When choosing a sunscreen for yourself and your family, look for ones that have been tested for UVA and UVB protection; this will ensure that they offer adequate protection against both types of rays. Physical sunscreens that contain mineral actives such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide provide broad spectrum coverage without irritating sensitive skin types, while chemical sunscreens are often lighter on the skin but can cause irritation if not chosen carefully. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what feels best on your skin! The key is finding one that fits into your lifestyle while still providing broad spectrum coverage.
Is it true that wearing sunscreen all the time can prevent me from getting enough Vitamin D?
No - this is a common misconception! Vitamin D is essential for our overall health and well-being; however, it doesn't take long for our bodies to absorb it – usually only 10 minutes each day – so don't worry about depriving yourself when applying SPF liberally throughout the day as advised! Plus, no SPF number protects you from 100% of UV rays; so even if you've applied generous amounts of SPF 50, 98% of UV rays are still getting through which means you're still exposed to enough vitamin D.
Do I need extra protection when flying or visiting higher elevations?
Absolutely! Due to its elevation above sea level, being on an airplane exposes us to more UV radiation than we would otherwise experience on land - meaning we need an extra layer of protection. The same goes when hiking in higher elevations like mountains; due to thinner air at higher altitudes UV radiation becomes stronger by approximately 10-12% for every 3 thousand feet increase in elevation making sunscreen essential during these times too.
What's the difference between chemical & mineral sunscreens?
Chemical sunscreens use organic actives such as avobenzone and homosalate while mineral sunscreens use inorganic actives like zinc oxide & titanium dioxide which block & absorb UV radiation differently depending on how they interact with light waves hitting our skin's surface providing different benefits based on what works best for each individual person & situation. Chemical SPFs offer innovation such as light textures & clear formulas for darker skin tones plus breathable formulas perfect active lifestyles whereas mineral SPFs typically work better with those who have sensitive or acne-prone skin & who spend extended periods indoors during peak daylight hours since minerals act almost immediately upon contact providing quicker defense against damage from UVA/UVB rays.
The Future of Corporate Medical Care
We believe that an integrative approach to health looks into all elements of a person rather than the symptom.
BIÂN is now offering a standalone Integrative Executive Physical that merges world-class medical, wellness, and preventative offerings with meaningful and effective lifestyle action plans in a luxurious and enjoyable one-day experience. We developed the Corporate Integrative Executive Physical to provide an option for Executives to have an efficient and elevated one-day look into their overall health with a clear path of action that can be incorporated with their providers. Designed for those interested in taking a deeper look into the complete landscape of their health and lifestyle with consideration in research-based perspectives from both the Eastern and Western lens.
What separates this offering from other executive physicals? In addition to a comprehensive medical exam by our board-certified Internal Medicine physician Dr. Marcie Claybon, a dermatologic evaluation, and nutritional consultation, the BIÂN experience provides executives the opportunity to be exposed to other proven medical modalities, such as acupuncture and Eastern Medicine, with trusted, vetted experts in the field. These modalities have been available for centuries but many do not know who to trust or where to look. BIÂN delivers the experts to you so you can experience these therapies in a trusted environment, while still getting the high-quality executive physical you require. Enjoy this unique experience in our private club inclusive of coffee, smoothie, and exceptional lunch.
BIÂN’s integrative approach is the future of medical care.
WE BELIEVE THAT AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH TO HEALTH LOOKS INTO ALL ELEMENTS OF A PERSON RATHER THAN THE SYMPTOM