Liver and gallbladder, which have a very close relationship not only in the Chinese system, but also in Western medicine. For example, the liver as seen in Western pathology produces bile, which is then stored and concentrated in the gallbladder.
The Wood Element is linked to Spring, the time of year when the earth begins to burst alive with energy and new growth. The growth of plants can mirror how the body energy changes with the seasons. The body's energy rises and moves from within to the surface in Spring; plants, too, begin to grow above the ground, their growth upward and outward.
Wind. It is essential to protect your body from the wind, the most vulnerable area being the back of the neck and shoulders. Springtime colds and flus can be greatly reduced by following the simple advice of wearing a scarf. The liver is also susceptible to internal wind in the body (not flatulence!), which can give rise to stiffness, numbness, convulsions, twitches, pains that move in the body and clumsiness.
Green is the colour of the Wood Element - interestingly the colour associated with jealousy and revenge, the emotions linked to the gallbladder. An obsession with or an aversion to this colour can point to an imbalance in the Wood Element. Chinese practitioners with a trained eye will notice a green tinge on the face, a viable diagnostic indication of imbalance.
Time of day:
The time the gallbladder is in power, according to the Chinese body clock, is 11 p.m.-1 a.m. The liver follows on from 1-3 a.m. Failing to sleep, or waking between these times, can point to an imbalance in the liver or gallbladder. This element also has an influence on the quality and length of sleep, and can induce dreams of trials, fights and suicide according to ancient Chinese texts. It is important to be in bed before this element comes into power as the liver is involved in filtering the blood. To do this effectively, the body needs to be horizontal because when you are up and about, the liver directs blood to the parts of the body needing it. If, for example, you are exercising, the blood is sent to nourish the muscles. Ideally you should aim to be in bed before 11 p.m., otherwise the liver energy is diverted from its important physical function of cleaning and renewing the blood. Waking unrefreshed and tired in the morning can show that the liver has not purified the blood efficiently. Excess artificial light, working for long hours or shift work through the night can also prevent the liver from regenerating effectively.
The Wood Element controls the tendons and ligaments and the way in which these interact with the muscles. If the liver has not cleansed the blood sufficiently or if there is a deficiency of blood, the tendons will suffer from malnutrition - giving rise to stiffness, difficulty flexing and extending the joints, numbness and spasms. Therefore, for any diseases that involve the tendons we must look at the Wood Element.
Shouting - a very obvious connection as the emotion of the liver, anger, frequently manifests as emotional outbursts and raging arguments as the pressure cooker lid finally blows off! Someone with a loud voice is also demonstrating 'liverish' tendencies.
The Wood Element nourishes the eyes (with the gall bladder). The health of the eyes is seen as being dependent on the health of the liver, so any visual disturbances can be interpreted as a reflection of the state of your liver. If a problem occurs in the liver, the eyes can suffer from dryness, redness, night blindness, 'floaters' (black spots before the eyes), cataracts, glaucoma or blurred vision.
The nails are considered an extension of the tendons, so problems such as changes in nail colour, brittle nails, ridges on the nails or weak, splitting nails all tell us that something about the Wood Element is being imbalanced.
Symptoms of Imbalance:
The liver is the key organ associated with the Wood Element. A healthy liver is like a tender young tree that is green and flexible, yet firmly rooted into the earth. The sap is fresh and vital like the blood in our body when it is clean and pure. As it bends in the wind, its movements are graceful and fluid, just like our body when in balance, with energy flowing smoothly and effortlessly. When the liver energy stagnates, however, we can become brittle, wooden and inflexible in both body and mind. Symptoms of imbalance include migraines, headaches, stiffness and tension in the neck and shoulder area, nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, vision disturbances, weak and flaky nails. Emotional imbalances include rage, anger, frustration, bitterness, jealousy and indecision.