Nei Jing Wisdom for Spring

The Nei Jing is the oldest, most used text of Chinese Medicine, dating back to the Han Dynasty around 2,200 years old.

It’s written as a discourse between the Emperor – Huang Di (meaning Yellow Emperor) and his Physican Qi Bo, where he asks questions of life, death, health, disease and medicine. Here’s the conversation about the season of Spring and how to keep healthy in Spring time:

“The three months of spring, they denote effusion and spreading. Heaven and earth together generate life; the myriad begins to flourish” (1)


This passage goes on with some other key lines:


“Go to bed late at night and rise early”


“Deshevil the hair and relax the physical appearance” – Especially for women who had their hair tightly wrapped even with a hat on, to keep in the warmth in winter, now you can loosen the hair on your head, walk in the day and evening when it is warmer and enjoy the feeling of being looser and relaxed compared to being bundled up in winter.

Before concluding, he states:

“Give life and do not kill

Give and do not take

Reward and do not punish”(1)

This is the qi of spring (the energy or life of spring). This is the Way (the Dao) to nourish life by respecting and going with the energy of the season.

Spring is a great time to do new things, including volunteering, giving, practicing acts of kindness and generosity. Freedom and movement are like the opposite of the storing and hoarding that goes on in winter…the storing of food, the storing of yin energy and keeping things in tight, that energy is contrasted by the movement and freedom of Spring.

Things that are fantastic in Spring:

  • Starting a diet
  • Starting an exercise program
  • Learning a new skill that requires movement and active participation
  • Benevolent acts – kindness, volunteering, helping others without expectation of return
  • Looking for good in people and rewarding that good
  • Quitting bad health habits (quitting smoking, quitting drinking, quitting sugar etc)
  • Letting your hair down and going for walks in the park
  • Dancing and letting go of inhibitions


Finally, sleep patterns should start to shift by getting up earlier, as the sun starts to rise earler and the mornings are warmer. As we near the end of spring, you can start to go to bed much later as well. You need less sleep in Spring than you did in winter.

What’s happening to your body in Spring?

the Yang energy that was in storage deeper, is starting to come out to the surface. In summer the Yang is fully out on the surface. In winter it goes deeper. Spring is the in-between state where yang is spreading out, which is why you need less clothes, the weather is warmer.

Illness that “flare up” in spring like hayfever, allergies can be explained in Chinese medicine because the season of Winter caused them to lie dormant, and it’s not until the yang starts to stir and move towards the surface that you would get any problems. As it starts to move upwards and outwards, the movement may cause a “flare up” of conditions.

Chinese medicine considers many illnesses to be caused by our bodies inability to “suit the season”.



  1. Unschuld PU. Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text: With an appendix: The Doctrine of the Five Periods and Six Qi in the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: University of California Press; 2003. Chapter 2 – 8 – 6