Blooming in Spring with Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, springtime is correlated to the liver and the gallbladder as these organs carry energy to store and detox the blood. In spring, we look forward to longer days, the frost thawing and new growth surrounding us.

‘Spring cleaning’ is a great energetic way to express the change of the season, not only for your home, but for your body too.

As the bulbs begin to push through the soil, we humans should be pushing ourselves to be more active, to engage in activities or thought provoking experiences in order to move stagnant winter energy and express our creativity.

When it comes to our nutrition, raw greens, herbs and vegetables are in abundance this season to enjoy-which stimulates liver energy flow.

A restful winter that may have led to more indulging in heavy foods, alcohol, coffee, and Netflix will lead to more feelings of tension and congestion symptoms.  This tense, sluggish energy is called liver stagnation.

Symptoms of stagnant or sluggish liver energy include: muscle tension, headaches, waking between 1-3am, difficult menses, increased allergies, waking feeling "hung-over", lethargic, depressed, impatient, irritable, or more constipated. 

Foods that decrease liver stagnation are those that taste pungent such as watercress, onions, mustard greens, turmeric, basil, fennel, rosemary and mints. Too many pungent foods can lead to excess heat in the body. If you find yourself experiencing excess heat turn to foods like beets, taro root, sweet rice, strawberries, cabbage, kohlrabi or broccoli. 

If this time of year you find yourself in depression or digestive indigestion, try drinking unrefined, high quality apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar or red wine vinegar. To drink, add one teaspoon vinegar of choice to one cup of warm water (raw and local honey an optional addition). If the vinegar causes excess heat try drinking warm water with lemon, lime or grapefruit instead. 

Decreasing your cups of coffee throughout the day will also keep our liver healthy. In order to curb this habit reach for herbal tea rather than the caffeine. We suggest milk thistle, chamomile, licorice root or dandelion root tea. Add a hint of brightness with a fresh slice of lemon or lime and a generous teaspoon of honey to sweeten your morning or afternoon.

Upping our dose of raw foods, adding pungent, bitter and sour foods and drink along with drinking less caffeine will make for a happy liver, a calmer mind and a more creative spirit this time of year. Combine these fresh new foods with hot tea to ensure strong digestion.

Back on Track: Detoxifying from Summer

With the joy, warmth, socialization, festivals and fun of summer~ comes more unhealthy eating, drinking, stress, fatigue, and skipping routines.  Our bodies LOVE routine, so the waning of summer also brings back the steadiness of structure.  As we get back to our roots and recover from the summer holiday, we can use this transitional time to prepare our bodies for a healthy autumn.

heal your gut: Before your body can handle a real effective detoxification, the digestive tract needs to be addressed. Are you feeling bloated after eating? Do you get cramping or see changes in your bowel patterns? For baseline indigestion, bloating, belching and flatulence a daily dose of fermented foods and probiotics may do the trick.  If you are struggling to get digestion under control- invest in your health! Our nutritionist will get to the root of the problem with you and help you find the right foods to heal your gut.

sweat it out : Studies have shown that perspiration contains trace amounts of heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.  A well-hydrated work out or sauna session can activate your lymphatic system and help you sweat out some of that bad stuff.    

go green : Green vegetables have a high inventory of nutrients.  Many of the body’s detox processes are linked to having adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.  Start cooking with generous amounts of spinach and cruciferous vegetables to maximize your detox nutrients.

citrus boost : Vitamin C is an immune booster.  It helps the body produce an antioxidant that neutralizes toxins and also enhances digestive enzymes.  Because we cannot produce our own vitamin C in the body, eating adequate sources in whole foods or supplements is vital to better immune health. Start and end each day with a glass of warm lemon water!   (strawberry, acerola cherry, citrus fruits, papaya, black currant, kiwi, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, melons, and dark leafy greens are great food sources)

controlled breathing : Oxygen is a critical component of natural detoxification.  Controlled breathing: a deep, 5 second inhalation through the nose followed by a long exhalation through the mouth- you will achieve a full oxygen exchange, swapping incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide.  This supercharges your lymphatic system to ward of toxins, pathogens, and waste. Integrate this controlled breathing practice several times per day.

drink more tea : Green tea leaves are withered and steamed, rather than fermented, so it produces a beverage that is rich in compounds that eliminate free radicals.  Start your day with a cup of green tea and a squeeze of lemon. 

assess your water quality: It is not just about quantity! Ditch plastic bottles of commercially packaged water and invest in a stainless steel bottle.  Update your water filters or start using one for all of you water needs at home.  Tap water can be full of chemicals used to clean the water- but also add more to the chemical load in your body.  Drinking filtered, cleaner water will help your body flush out waste at the cellular level and also support the GI tract and kidneys as they flush out those toxins. How much water? At least 1/2 to 3/4 your body weight in ounces.