Wellness Tips for Spring
Springing into a Healthier You!
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Spring
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the season of spring is connected to the wood element and to the liver and gallbladder organs. Wood symbolizes life and the process of renewing life. Wood is associated with traits of ambition, motivation and assertiveness. When the wood element is out of balance or when it becomes stagnant, negative emotions such as anger, frustration, irritability or impatience can arise. When the wood element is weak, you may have a diminished drive and feel depressed or discouraged.
The liver is often called the “general” of the body in TCM because of its many important functions. The liver is in charge of removing toxins, storing blood, regulating Qi (life force), nourishing the tendons and sinews and it houses the Hun or ethereal soul. The ethereal soul gives us guidance and a sense of purpose. When the liver is weak or deficient the ethereal soul can not root and we lose direction in life, which can be indicated by a sensation of fear or floating prior to sleep.
The gallbladder has the primary function of secreting bile to aid in digestion of fats. The gallbladder regulates judgment, decision- making and the ability to carry out plans. When the gallbladder is weak, you may feel indecisive or unsure.
The health tips below are some great ways to help harmonize both your liver and gallbladder during the spring season.
Spring into a Healthier you – Health Tips for Spring
Eat Green Foods – Green is the color of the liver and the color for spring. Eating leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, cilantro and parsley or chlorophyll rich foods such as cereal grass sprouts (e.g. wheat grass) can help cleanse and your liver and improve the liver’s functions and therefore allow your qi to move more freely. Avoid overeating and in particular avoid rich, greasy and heavy foods as that can cause your liver to become sluggish, which can lead to stagnant liver qi.
Give your liver a break – It is good to cut down on your liver’s workload. Refraining from alcohol, excess sugars and refined foods as well as from herbicides and pesticides, found in conventional produce (buy organic!), will help you and your liver feel better.
Exercise and Stretch – Movement is what spring is all about as seen by the increase in windy days in the spring. Get outside and move! Also, stretching is great for your tendons and ligaments. The liver controls the tendons and maintaining tendon health will allow for greater flexibility. Yoga, Tai Chi or simply stretching after your workouts will help increase your mobility and keep your tendons healthy.
Sour Flavor – The flavor of the liver is sour and foods and drinks with sour tastes can stimulate the liver’s qi. Lemon or lime slices in your drinking water, eating pickles or putting vinegar on your salad or drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with sparkling water makes an enjoyable beverage.
Eye Exercises – The liver opens into the eyes. Proper eye function is connected to the liver and doing eye exercise or giving your eyes a break from computer monitors or TV’s is important for the health of your eyes.
Forgive Someone – Holding onto anger and resentment constrains your live qi. Let it go!
Get Acupuncture treatments- Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.
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Mary Jean Brinkman MAcOM, LAc
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