Springtime Headaches and Allergies

Spring is the season of the Wood element in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  One of my acupressure professors poetically described the Wood element as the energy and enthusiasm it takes for seeds to burst from their seed casings into new growth.  It’s associated with exuberance, creativity, and excitement – all the things that a beautiful spring day can bring.

The Wood element is comprised of the Yin and Yang meridians Liver and Gall Bladder respectively.  The Liver meridian is associated with planning, creativity, and vision (both physically and metaphorically), while the Gall Bladder meridian is associated with the implementation aspects like decision making, judgment, and action.

I’ve noticed that this particular spring has been a tumultuous one bringing with it a lot of change which, by the way, can happen during any seasonal transition, but this spring brought extreme weather changes, relationship changes, job changes, and general life changes to many.  During a time of change and particularly extreme change, any element can get out of balance.  When the Wood element becomes unbalanced it shows up emotionally as anger or frustration, controlling or judgmental behaviors, mental indecision, and depression, while physically it shows up as tendon and muscle problems, eye and allergy problems, and headache, neck, and shoulder problems to name a few.  For me, spring has meant allergies and headache.

Should you be experiencing any of these problems (and who hasn’t), let me suggest a couple of acupressure points you can try on yourself to ease your pain and enjoy spring more.

When you use these points, you can use a single finger (the middle finger is easiest – it’s the longest and makes contact first, but index or thumb work fine too), or you can use your index, middle, and ring fingers together.  You don’t need to dig into the point (be careful because some points can be extremely tender).  You just need moderate pressure to make contact with the point and that will unblock points that are sore or hard, as well as energize points that are sunken or cold.  Hold each point 1 - 2 minutes.


Symptom Acupressure Point Description Location

If you suffer from migraines, this point combination has the ability to relieve the pain instantly.
 Sp 4, GB 41
 Sp 4 is on the inside of the foot about 2 thumbwidths from the knuckle of the big toe.


GB 41 is inbetween the bones of the 4th and 5th toes just behind the tendon that connects to the 5th toe.
 Allergies, red eyes, toxicity, headache. 

This is the Master tonic point for the Liver meridian.

Lv 3  Lv 3 is between the bones of the 1st and 2ndtoes until you reach   the “V”   
 Mental confusion and anxiety. GB 20  GB 20 is the hollow on either side of the head, just behind the ear at the bottom of the skull. 



Acupressure is not intended to replace regular medical or veterinary care.  Nothing on this site should be construed as medical advice.

In case of an emergency dial 911.


We discussed the 7 Emotions of Chinese Medicine this week.  Here they are for reference (listed in the order of generating cycle starting with Spring):

  • Anger
  • Fright (meaning to be startled)
  • Joy
  • Thinking
  • Worry (Obsessive Thinking)
  • Sorrow (Grief)
  • Fear

 A couple of things stood out for me from our lecture.  First, my professor said that in past years, he'd ask students to list the emotions in order of how prevalent they were in current society.  While Anger, and Worry typically showed up at the top, Fear usually showed up at the bottom.  My prof thought that was because students interpreted Fear only as an extreme emotion, the way it's played out in horror movies. 


He said if you don't think Fear is prevalent in today's society, spend some time in any Silicon Valley tech company.  He described a client who came to him for facial rejuvenation because while she was by no means old (just out of her 20s), she was afraid she would be replaced by someone younger who commanded a lower wage and was willing to work any hours requested. 

Before I get to the second point, let me share that each emotion affects both the way Qi moves in the body (Qi enables the movement of blood and body fluids), and each emotion also affects an organ system.  Below are the correlations for each emotion.  Note that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) organ systems are not a 1:1 correlation with Western Medicine organs.


Qi Movements

Affected Organ(s)


Qi rises


Fright (meaning to be startled)

Qi moves chaotically



Moderates or Slackens Qi



Binds Qi


Worry (Obsessive Thinking)

Knots Qi


Sorrow (Grief)

Disperses Qi



Qi descends


In TCM, the Kidney is the organ which holds Essence.  Essence is both a person's constitutional substance which governs growth, development, reproduction, and aging (this aspect of Essence is often likened to the endocrine system in Western Medicine), and it is the acquired substance we get from the food we eat and air we breathe.  So, when the emotion of Fear or anxiety is over stimulated, it weakens the Kidney and people show up with signs like chronic low back pain, knee problems, ringing in the ears, or hearing problems, feeling cold all the time, fatigue, general edema, and impotence or reproductive problems.

The second thing that stood out from his lecture was his comment about Joy.  He said, while Joy can have its excessive form usually called mania, Joy in its appropriate form can resolve any and all emotional problems.  In TCM, the heart experiences ALL emotions and Joy can resolve any and all emotional problems.

I wish you much Joy in your life.

The 7 Emotions in Chinese Medicine