It’s now Spring here in Oregon, yesterday that meant that we had cold temperatures with a mix of sun, rain, hail, and wind in every combination possible and today we had snow. According to Chinese medicine theory as we transition through different seasons of the year different organ systems become dominate. The spring belongs to the Liver/Gallbladder organ system and is all about regrowth, moving, changing, and cleaning away what we don’t need anymore.
It is an expansive time with the days getting longer as the yang energy is growing in strength. The color associated with the liver and spring is green and the emotion that the liver controls is anger or frustration. During this time of year it is beneficial to do some internal cleaning with some detoxification and supporting the filtering functions of the liver organ. The liver is considered a yin organ and it’s yang counterpart is the gallbladder. The gallbladder is known to be indecisive with its wandering meridian that zigzags through the body. From the tip of the eyebrow it weaves back and forth along the temporal aspect of the head, down through the shoulder, then it traverses the flank of the body through the hip, down the outside of the leg and ankle ending at the 4th toe nail.
In the body, we can also see symptoms of this indecisive time with symptoms that come and go and are hard to pinpoint the exact location of the pain or problem. Emotionally people are getting restless for warmer weather and want to be out moving their bodies and expanding out of the confining feeling of winter. In the clinic this time of year I often see patient coming in pain syndromes of stagnation in the gallbladder channel with lots of shoulder and hip tension with pain. This is also the time allergies start acting up. This happens when the liver is too congested and can’t handle the added burden of the newly budding flowers and trees. So this past week there have been many people coming in the sneezing, ear congestion, and red itchy eyes.
Wood is the dominating element of spring with its versatile nature of being strong yet pliable and able to bend in the wind. In the body the wood element is reflected in the sinews, tendons, and ligaments. This is the time of year to take care of our joints and work to improve flexibility so that we do not become overly stiff and brittle. Springtime is an common time to sprain ankles and have ligament injuries.
The following is a list of personal care activity to complement all these seasonal changes and keep our body in the natural flow of the universal cosmic qi dance:
Nourish the body:
Since this season is all about green, it is a great idea to add more green food into the diet. Asparagus, Broccoli, Kale, Dandelion greens, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Avocados, and Milk Thistle are fantastic this time of year. Also since it’s the time of liver you know I am going to tell you to eat some liver! Yes, you can do it in supplement form if you can’t bring yourself to eat it straight, here is one I recommend.
Always important, but especially as we are becoming more active it is it smart to stay well hydrated. Remember the equation for adequate water intake is 50 ounces for every hundred pounds (150 lbs person needs 75 oz of water everyday). If you are more active you will need above this recommendation.
Purification and cleansing the body don’t have to be an intensive juice cleanse or days of fasting, but rather supporting the natural functions of the liver and minimizing its burden this time of year is helpful. This is the perfect time of year to do my 21-day purification program.
A technique of brushing the skin with a soft brush to promote lymphatic flow and help to detoxify the body while gently exfoliating that dry winter skin. Dry brushing can be done daily before showering and is a great way to wake up and get the qi flowing, and it feels fantastic. Here is a post from the Wellness Mama on how to dry brush and here is a set of brushes I like.
This is a wonderful time to do a bit of yoga or stretching to help lubricate the ligaments and joints, elongate muscle and work to increase flexibility. Yoga practice has a detoxification effect on the body the help pump toxins out but using movement and breath. I prefer Ashtanga type yoga that is a meditation in movement bring the breath and body into balance. I have a goal of having a more structured yoga practice so this spring I have committed to doing yoga on a daily basis. If you would like to join me, let me know, I would love to have an accountability buddy.
This is an important time to processing emotions of anger and frustration in a positive way. Suppressing emotions will only lead to stagnation in the body. When feelings of irritation, anger, or frustration come up acknowledge them and work to give them a channel to express themselves. If you find yourself sighing a lot it can be a sign that your liver qi is stagnate or not flowing freely. The sound of the liver is like a growl or a forced sigh, sometimes just grunting and letting that sound vibrate the liver can relieve some of the stress. This can also be done by singing loudly in the car to music that makes your spirit dance. I am a strong advocate for singing in the car, shower, or anywhere music overcomes you.
Some supplements I find myself using in the clinic this time of year include: Livaplex for gentle liver detox and support. Silymarin (aka Milk Thistle) as a liver tonic and protector. Allerplex for allergies and asthma. Antronex for allergies and nasal congestion, a natural antihistamine liver extract. SP Cleanse, SP Complete, and SP Green Food for purification and rejuvenation programs. Xiao Yao Wan, the free and easy wanderer herbal formula for liver qi stagnation.
If you are interested in learning more about how to live in harmony with the natural cycles give me a call and we can discuss your needs and come up with a treatment plan tailored to your pattern and needs. Spring is a great time to come in for an acupuncture tune up or to get some relief from those seasonal allergies.