Oh, Spring . . . we couldn’t wait for you to arrive! As we watch our micro-farm transition from the depths of winter (admittedly pretty mild in Sausalito!) into spring with sprouting seeds and flowering buds, we can’t help but think about how we can transition ourselves into the new season too. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is a time of renewal and awakening as we welcome more light in the daytime. This is the perfect opportunity to begin syncing your body to earth’s natural rhythms and become more in tune with yourself. Our dear friend Anne Miller, L.Ac. from The Garden Wellness Clinic in San Francisco, is here to share with us the ways you can bloom into spring with ease.
We love Anne for many reasons, but one that sticks out in particular is her passion for helping people through traditional and ancient healing practices. Known for her incredibly effective acupuncture facials, Anne’s approach to holistic healing through herbal medicine, acupuncture, bodywork, nutrition coaching, and of course organic facials is helping our community connect to wise ancient traditions. Let’s dive in!
Botnia Skincare: Why would you want to sync your daily routine with the seasons?
Anne Miller: There are many facets to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of which is Five Element Theory. Each of the elements (Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood) are related to each of the seasons. When we live in harmony with the seasons, we can notice an elevated health experience. We are more connected to nature than we realize. Humans are of the earth, just as a tree or beautiful flower. So, naturally we respond to the Earth’s rhythms just like the plants do, there is no separation there. Syncing your body to the season will not only feel better, but you may be less likely to catch a pesky cold, and feel more at ease in general.
B: Can you explain TCM in a nutshell?
A: Traditional Chinese medicine is a sophisticated medical system that has been around for more than 3,000 years. Also known as TCM, this medicine offers delicate and intelligent diagnostic skills to harmonize the body, its systems, as well as the mind and emotions. For example, when a person is experiencing undesirable symptoms or disharmony, we search for stagnation, deficiency, improper movement of qi (pronounced chi) and blood, or an imbalance in yin and yang. In the U.S. acupuncturists are board-certified and hold medical licenses in their state. Not only are acupuncturists trained in TCM, but also are licensed herbalists, and hold a strong understanding of western medicine, nutrition, body mechanics, physical fitness, and meditation. Choosing TCM for your health journey not only will improve your well-being, but also prevent future imbalances and illness.
B: How does practicing and understanding TCM benefit the body, mind, and soul?
A: When we eat with the seasons, understand the energy of the seasons, and adjust our lifestyles accordingly, we notice a subtle shift in our bodies, minds, and spirits. Personally, when I live this way, I feel expansive and more peaceful. Life is filled with decisions, and if we just pause or slow down a bit more to listen to what is happening in nature around us, many of those decisions are already made for us. Rosebuds in the springtime remind us that emotions might be tense this season, to watch for irritability. Dandelion greens are growing at a rapid pace to support our liver/gallbladder and support natural detox. Spring is a time for refreshing and a renewal of our organs and body. It’s time to start exercising with a bit more vigor, to call up our community and gather, and to take time to reflect on what we learned in the winter season.
B: What are common signs on the skin that show that your internal body is out of balance with the season or it’s fighting against the season?
A: I notice irritation, inflammation, acne, dryness, and dermatitis on my patients most during the spring season. The dryness and cold of winter can shift the skin barrier out of balance. Spring is a wonderful time to begin a gentle exfoliation routine, start DIY masking at home, or explore what type of moisturizer is best at this time. We want to cleanse, exfoliate, and nourish the skin so we are glowing and taking good care.
B: How can incorporating acupuncture help shift you into the new season?
A: The liver and gallbladder meridians are related to the spring season. With a seasonal acupuncture tune-up, we are balancing the body from the inside out, focusing our treatment on the energy of these organs.
B: We know for a fact that you’ve built your business in intentional ways to reflect the idea of seasonality. Can you share some ways you’re doing this?
A: Oh yes, when designing The Garden, we chose sustainable and earth-friendly materials, decor, and furniture that are as natural as possible to remind patients of the five elements: fire, water, earth, metal, and wood. Our gardens that weave around the treatment rooms hold our vision that we are one with the natural world. I’m constantly joining patients in awe of nature’s beauty just right outside our window. We celebrate together when the chamomile pops open, or hang our heads when it’s time to trim back the dead from fall and winter. I allow the beds to look bare and open in these months to remind patients that life and living with the seasons is not about constant abundance and blooming. There are quieter, deeper, moments where we need to turn inward, to germinate so we too can bloom in the spring. I share seasonal recipes with patients, and help keep them on track with workouts that are appropriate for the energies of the seasons as well. We have some exciting new offerings coming up this year to continue the ecological education of our sweet clinic.
B: That sounds so wonderful and a perfect way to remind us that we can’t have it all, all the time. What are ways we can begin to get in tune with spring?
A: Movement and nature! Whatever sounds fun to you that’s outside, safe, and makes you feel alive! Go for hikes, breathe fresh air, get into the sun, stretch, run, bike, hike, get out there! When we slow down to notice the subtleties of nature around us, we can learn valuable lessons about the earth and ourselves.
B: What are your favorite activities for the spring?
A: Well, obviously, I’m going to say gardening. Spring is the most exciting time where I notice the most change in the plant life at record speeds. The plants all seem to be so excited for the shift, and ready to reach high and bloom with the sunshine. Other than spending time in the garden, I love to practice yoga, take long hikes, swim in the ocean, and go running by the water. It’s also a fantastic time for education. I feel more receptive to workshops, reading, and diving into research studies at this time. In fact, I’m teaching a workshop with a friend of mine in April at The Garden! Mindful Movement: A Yoga + Acupuncture Workshop. Come learn more about living with the season on Saturday, April 16 from 12pm to 2pm.
B: Lastly, if someone wanted to dip their toes into TCM, how could they update their nutrition during this time?
A: Eat local and in season. Nature will show us the way when it comes to seasonal eating. To balance your body energetically for spring choose foods that support liver and gallbladder channels and organs. Greens, greens, greens! Eat as many green fruits and veggies as you can get your hands on. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, green apples, pistachios, celery, spirulina, and seaweeds, you get the idea.
B: Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of information, Anne! We can’t wait to incorporate these practices into our daily spring routine!
We hope you’re more encouraged to notice the beautiful transition we’re experiencing on our amazing planet. Slow down and enjoy the beauty.
Botnia & Anne from The Garden
P.S. If you’re also looking to update your skincare routine for the spring, here’s our founder Justine’s 5-step skincare ritual for the spring season!