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.