It’s officially Spring! Although the snow we had on Sunday didn’t feel like it, but I know in the last week or so I have started to feel the changes take place to bring us into one of my favorite seasons!
Spring a time of renewal and cleansing
Spring is the time to get up and moving after hibernating in winter. Spring cleaning is a real thing, not just for our houses, but for our bodies. After the cold months of winter where we were craving rich earthy foods, our appetite in spring eases, and we start to need less food, as there is no longer a need to store energy to stay warm during the cold months of winter. Because of this spring is a great time to reset your body and reach your weight goals. The natural trends of this season of eating less and moving more, supports you in this process.
The organs of Spring: the Wood Season
Why else is spring a great time for cleansing and renewal? Because spring is represented by the Wood Element in TCM, and that includes the Liver and Gallbladder organs. Both of these organs are incredible in their abilities to cleanse and release.
Among the livers many functions in Western Medicine is the formation, cleansing, and filtration of blood to help the body eliminate toxins. And in Eastern Medicine the Livers functions go well beyond the physical function and it includes the spiritual and emotional qualities as well. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in our bodies, its energy moves upward and outward. It is responsible for keeping the flow of blood, energy, and emotions moving to support the body, mind, and spirit.
When Qi cannot move it can become stagnant: causing stress, anger, irritability, and depression. If you do not follow the flow of the seasons, this Qi stagnation is likely to occur. Often within the transition between Winter and Spring I will have patients who come in with many of the emotional symptoms already mentioned. By regulating their bodies with acupuncture, food, and regular moment, their emotions will quickly begin to balance out!
Other problems that are associated with imbalances in the Wood element are: muscle tension, sciatica, headaches, visual issues, menstural irregularities, PMS, digestive issues, and High Blood Pressure. Spring can be a time when these can get aggravated or become worse, but it is also the time to treat and relieve these!
Wind can occur in any season, but is generally strongest in Spring. In TCM wind can penetrate and become internal wind causing symptoms such as: dizziness, cramps, inching, spasms, tremors, pain that comes and goes, twitching, pulsating headaches, and ringing in the ears. The nape of the neck in TCM is called the “wind gate.” It is the place that is most vulnerable to wind and cold, which is why wearing a coat or scarf is so important during this season.
How to Stay Healthy this Spring
Foods For Spring
1. Green Foods: During spring, it is recommended to eat foods green in color and rich in chlorophyll that help accelerate rejuvenation of the liver. This includes things like spirulina, chlorella, parsley, wheat grass, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens.
2. Radishes: Pungent in flavor, radishes are perfect for the spring time. They help move liver Qi and open up the liver meridian.
3. Sour Citrus Fruits: Foods like lemons, limes and grapefruit are all good choices that help cut fats that may have been stored up in the body during the winter months, while also keeping the liver Qi moving smoothly.
4. Bitter Leafy Greens: Spring is the appropriate time for liver cleansing, which is what the bitter flavor does. So adding things like dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio, mustard greens and spinach will help tremendously.
5. Chicken: Ever heard the term “spring chicken”? Well this is the appropriate time of year to enjoy pasture-raised, locally grown chicken. And pairing chicken with some of the aforementioned foods can make for a very healthy and liver happy meal.