02 Sep Spring in Your Step
5 Spring Health Tips from Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine views Spring as a time of cleansing, renewal, growth, flow, movement and creativity. Spring corresponds to the wood element, the colour green and to a natural rise in liver and gall bladder activity. This complimentary pair break down the debris of stored winter heat, metabolic waste and stagnation and circulate nutrient rich blood and Qi. Below you will learn how to optimise your health and productivity with these Spring health tips for liver and gall bladder meridian.
A Chinese overview of Spring season
According to Chinese five element theory, a different organ-meridian pairing dominates with each season. Spring is liver & gall bladders turn in the driver’s seat. These amazing organs are particularly adapted to the task of cleansing, building and circulating bile, blood and life force (Qi). They nourish the eyes and tendons and are best supported with gentle detoxes, increased exercise and enzyme rich foods that don’t create congestion or slow down metabolism. Here are some more correspondences from five element theory:
Qualities: flow, creativity, movement
Emotions: anger, resentment, frustration
Yin organ: liver
Yang organ: gall bladder
Related tissues: eyes, skin, tendons
Influences: spleen and lung health (immunity, susceptibility to allergens)
1. Must Do Morning Liver Flush
Sour is the taste of Spring because it increases flow. For example, try putting anything sour near your mouth and see how much more you salivate! Done daily, this proven morning routine will support your liver to increase enzyme production and draw out any lingering metabolic toxins from your tissues for speedy elimination. If you only do one thing for your health, do this!
Perform daily, 30 minutes before eating food:
- Juice 1 fresh (non-sprayed) lemon or lime into a cup
- Add tepid-warm water to taste
- Say cheers to your liver for doing an amazing job of processing all of the toxins that you have subjected it to over the years!
2. Detoxifying teas and herbs for Spring
Spring is a transitional season that oscillates between colder, inward flowing yin energies and outward flowing, emerging yang. Warm clarifying teas that are sour or bitter in flavour, or any combination of these, are a great way to gently support your liver. Many of these are available to buy from our Maple St Acupuncture clinic in Cooroy.
- Chicory Root (bitter)
- Chamomile (sweet/bitter)
- Calendula (bitter)
- Dandelion Root or Leaf (bitter)
- Fennel Seed (sweet)
- Green Tea (matcha, bitter, astringent)
- Hawthorn Berries
- Rosella (sour)
- Lemon Balm (sweet, sour)
- Lemon Juice (sour)
- Lemon Myrtle (sour, bitter, astringent)
- Milk Thistle
- Mints (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint…)
- Neem Leaf (bitter… very bitter!)
- Parsley (sweet)
- Raspberry Leaf (bitter/sweet/astringent)
- Red Clover (bitter/sweet)
- Turmeric Root (bitter, sweet, astringent)
- Tulsi Leaf (sweet)
3. Foods to favour and avoid in Spring
On the cooler Spring days favour warm clarifying foods such as soups with some of the veges mentioned below. As your liver chi strengthens and your world warms up you can favour more raw, enzyme rich leafy greens and citrus-based salad dressings.
Favour: amaranth, apple cider vinegar, basil, beet, black sesame seeds, broccoli, cardamom, carrots, celery, chard, chives, coconut milk, cucumber, daikon, dill, endive, grapefruit, legumes, lemon, lettuce, lime, quinoa, radicchio, radishes, rocket, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, spinach, sorrel, spring onions, watercress.
Avoid: alcohol, dairy, highly processed foods, high gluten foods (like wheat), heavy foods, fried foods, drugs, synthetic vitamins, tablets and foods, dried foods and foods with excess salt, sweet or astringency.
4. Exercise and Creativity
Spring is the time to get your juices flowing – creative juices, blood, lymph, digestive, Qi – you name it! To help restore flow and to draw out the deep heat and stored energy of winter we need to get moving. Anything from gentle morning stretches or walks in nature to ecstatic dance will do. If you are immobile, regular massages and facilitated stretching are a passive alternative to help with lymphatic and blood flow. If you can move your hands and feet, the pawanmuktasana series of yoga offers another gentle way to keep your joints mobile and to assist with circulation.
5. Letting off steam mindfully
Liver and gall bladder are associated with the hot and festering emotions of anger, frustration and resentment. Below are some tell tale signs that we have anger out of balance.
- controlling behaviour
- judgement and criticism of life and others
- mentally replaying conversations or scenes with people who have upset us
- reactivity as opposed to responsiveness
- physical redness in skin and engorged veins
- excessive muscle tension and stiffness (this may also relate to fear)
- body pain (especially down the outside edge of the leg)
- a sour tension around the mouth that looks like we’ve been sucking on too many lemons (old anger turned to resentment).
Anger has its place
Anger is our natural first defence – the mask that we project when we feel vulnerable and don’t want others to get to close. It is a wall we build so that people don’t discover our ‘perceived’ long list of inadequacies that we are sure will be rejected. Anger is a thin, brittle veneer that protects us from having to feel painful feelings such as grief, shame, guilt, fear or terror. We are culturally conditioned to bury anger – it’s bad and we’re ‘not nice’ if we express it. However, every emotion we suppress leads to tension, imbalance and eventually to ‘dis’-ease. Finding a healthy, safe way to express our anger without projecting it onto others is key.
Once healed, the energy of anger manifests as healthy boundaries and as the laser-like cutting tool of discernment. This energy be focussed to cut through ignorance and break down toxic patterns.
Because anger and resentment are tied directly to the liver and gall bladder any physical detox will help us to cope with and release them and any deep emotional-release work will strengthen the integrity of this organ pair.