Spring Cleaning, Chinese Medicine-Style
It’s starting to feel like spring here in the Willamette Valley. Plants are emerging from their winter dormancy, flowers are budding, the days are getting longer. This same seasonal cycle that we observe in the outer world of nature is also happening inside our bodies. The enlivening and renewing of spring is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder system in Chinese Medicine. This system encompasses not only your physical liver and gall bladder that you know and love, but also with the tendons and connective tissue, the eyes, and the free flow of emotions, the creative drive or as the beginning phase of a new endeavor and the envisioning, planning, decision-making that go along with it, and the emotion of anger (short temper, impatience, frustration also). The upward and outward movement of qi in spring resonates with those same energetics within us.
How can you give your liver a break and move with the natural rhythms of spring?
- Go outside and breathe some fresh air, exercising for 30 minutes. Healthy lung qi helps invigorate stuck Liver qi.
- Do some qigong or yoga to allowing your qi to flow freely, and to maintain flexibility in the tendons and connective tissue, which is associated with the Liver.
- Forgive someone. Holding onto anger and resentment constrains the Liver Qi. Let it go!
- Eat Lightly. Our Livers help us get rid of the heavy stagnation we might have accumulated during the winter (which might manifest as seasonal allergies as the sludge moves up to eyes and nose). Leaving behind the heavier foods of winter, especially heavy meats, dairy products, and wheat, can help you move into spring feeling lighter.
- Consider cutting down on your liver’s workload by eliminating alcohol, refined sugar, and anything artificial like fake sugar, alcohol, pesticides and herbicides. Even if you don’t want to do this forever, consider giving your liver a week or two off from known toxins — a spring vacation from toxins.
- Eat green and pungent. Foods with a pungent taste like onions and garlic, peppermint, basil, dill, fennel, turmeric, rosemary, parsley resonate with the upward, outward direction of the season and can be helpful in eliminating venting the winter sluggishness. Young, tender shoots and green leaves, like asparagus, rabe, bean sprouts, and pretty much anything green and leafy kale, collard greens, watercress, romaine, dandelion, parsley are tremendously beneficial to detoxify that liver. If your digestion is weak, stick to cooked vegetables as opposed to raw, which require more energy to digest.
- Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. A little bit of the sour taste helps to gently help the liver slough off toxins. But too much sour will not be good for the liver, so think moderation.
- Enjoy life!
Only to often do we neglect the many facets that give us the balance in life we all strive for. It is always good to see that there are those who care enough to send us small reminders to large outcomes.