Every society has a different way of looking at health. Merri and I have gained very broadened health perspectives by observing these differences.
We work hard to remain comfortable…watching our nutrition…getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. Plus we have numerous, secret comfort weapons…such as aromatherapy and music which we have been sharing at this site.
Hearing, touch and smell have a vital impact on how you think and feel.
So too do the seasons.
Yesterday’s article, “Spring’s dark side: An upswing in suicides” by Kim Painter, USA TODAY shows one reason why.
The article says:
“The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. It’s May, and many of us feel great.
“But the thoughts of some vulnerable people grow dark at this seemingly bright time of year. In fact, if there is a season for suicide, springtime is it.
“Despite popular myths that suicides peak in the winter, particularly around the holidays, close observers have long noticed that suicides actually rise with the return of warmer, longer days, says Richard McCleary, a researcher at the University of California-Irvine.
“In one study of 28 countries, McCleary and colleagues found that, overall, suicide deaths were lowest in winter and highest in spring. They reached a peak in May in the Northern Hemisphere.
“But the researchers found that the peak existed only in temperate climates — places with distinct seasonal changes in weather. The link was strongest in agricultural societies and weakest in urban areas.”
Spring depression is not such a problem in Ecuador because there is little seasonal change. Here I am with Ma in the dead of winter!
Extra depression in spring is not surprising.
Ancient disciplines of health view good health as a balance between three physical elements “air and motion”, “material and physical” and “digestion and fire”…air, water and fire.
These disciplines also view the seasons as an important factor in this air, water and fire balance.
Winter is dry and brittle and aggravates air. Summer is hot and increases fire.
Spring is wet and increases depression.
Our farm is beautiful in spring….but wet!
Imbalances in these elements affects emotions. Excessive anxiety suggests an air imbalance. Too much anger means too much fire.
Too much water creates depression.
Fortunately these ancient wisdoms also tell us what to do to maintain balance in the face of seasonal change.
Here are three balancing tips for spring.
Tip #1: One way to maintain balance is to categorize foods into six categories, sweet, salt, bitter, astringent, sour and pungent.
Each category either pacifies or aggravates an element. For example sour and pungent aggravates fire (the digestive element) which is sensitive to heat. Sweet and bitter on the other hand pacify air.
So during the depressive days of spring we should take additional care to live and eat in a way that stops a build up of water. Pungent and astringent flavors help resist water imbalances .
During this sluggish time our bodies need to be stimulated and warmed up. Light, dry, warm foods reduce water. Use minimal amounts of fats and oils. Sweeten foods with honey, but never cook or bake with it. Grains such as barley, buckwheat, and rye are the best during this time, as are light, dry fruits, such as apples and cranberries. Low or nonfat milk is good, but minimize cultured dairy products. Eat more spices and herbs but be cautious with salt. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds and all beans, with the exception of the soybean, are excellent.
Tip #2: Exercise more. Yoga and walking (best after meals) can especially be helpful at this time.
Tip #3: Use lemon oil.
There is an excellent article at http://www.sciencedirect.com entitled
“Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice”
This was written by Migiwa Komiyaa, and Takashi Takeuchib, graduates of the School of Veterinary Science at Yamaguchi University in Japan.
The abstract of the article says:
“We examined the anti-stress action of the essential oils of lavender, rose, and lemon using an elevated plus-maze task (EPM), a forced swimming task (FST), and an open field task (OFT) in mice. Lemon oil had the strongest anti-stress effect in all three behavioral tasks. Moreover, the lemon oil significantly accelerated the metabolic turnover of DA in the hippocampus and of 5-HT in the prefrontal cortex and striatum. These results suggest that lemon oil possesses anxiolytic, antidepressant-like effects via the suppression of DA activity related to enhanced 5-HTnergic neurons.”
In short one’s mood may be improved simply by using lemon oil.
Upon reading this, I immediately contacted our friend Candace Newman and asked her to tells more. Candace wrote:
“Lemon Essential Oil – Citrus limonum
“Sometimes I call Lemon the “Good Morning Oil”. It is bright and uplifting like the sun. What a great essential oil for springtime and summer…cooling and refreshing. There are hundreds of essential oils, and I place Lemon in the top ten for its ability to help us feel better and be balanced in so many ways. Its clean, clear scent helps relieve fatigue and mental overload. It is uplifting to the mental and physical state, so it can also help with depression.
“Lemon is stimulating and energizing and helps move the rivers in the body. It is great to use when we feel fatigued, congested, and slow. This is one of the best oils for improving circulation, and can relieve aches and pains. Lemon’s clean “cut-to the quick aroma” is good for concentration and focus. Inhaling directly from the bottle of pure essential oil, can assist in coffee and cigarette withdrawal. It has been known to help with addictions.
“In Aromatherapy it is well-known for its antiseptic, antirheumatic, antigout, and anti-arthritic qualities. It serves as a tonic for the nervous system, promotes a healthy immune system, and simply lifts the spirit with its cheerful aroma which can also help with depression.
“How to Use: You can use it straight for inhalation and in a diffuser. Combine it with a base oil (like Jojoba) to rub on your skin. A palm-full of base oil and 1-2 drops of Lemon is a good start….or add this palm-full to your bath after you get in the water. Lemon oil straight on the skin can irritate and burn. Lemon is photo-sensitive, so should not be used directly on the skin prior to sun exposure. Dark brown spots may occur. Enjoy the freshness of this joyful oil!”
You can order this lemon oil from Candace at
Until next message may your spring be successful and bright.
Join us for an upcoming course or tour.
May 13-17 Ecuador Import Export Course
June 11-15 Ecuador Spanish Course
June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
June 19-21 Shamanic Mingo Tour