Chinese Medicine Tips for Spring
Spring Equinox: March 20th - April 4th
The lunisolar calendar regards these days as the middle of spring. This is when the day and night are equal in time or the Yang is in relative balance with the Yin. Spring is the yang arising out of the yin.
Spring is associated with the Liver & Gallbladder, the Wood element, as such it is important to keep both balanced and moving smoothly during this time. When the Wood element functions smoothly, both physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly.
Your liver performs about 200 vital functions every day. Among other things the liver detoxifies your blood, excretes used hormones, eliminates pharmaceutical and over-the counter medications, activates enzymes, stores vitamins and minerals and produces bile which is necessary for digestion, estrogen metabolism, and regulating inflammation. Typically when someone is dealing with seasonal allergies, it's a sign the immune system is on overdrive and probably has an overburdened liver most likely due to the increase in toxins coming at us from every direction.
Tip #1 - Acupuncture & Herbs
If things get fail to run smoothly, or as we say in Chinese medicine there is stagnation, this may manifest as neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, side pain, digestive issues, migraines, PMS, poor sleep, irritability, or being easily frustrated. Since spring time is the liver time, you may start to notice an increase in your symptoms. And allergies can be a sure sign of the changing seasons.
According to Chinese medicine, no two allergy suffers are alike, as each one of us has a unique physiology we also have a unique root cause. A comprehensive treatment of acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, diet and other lifestyle changes can help alleviate seasonal allergies without all the side effects and can help with all of the symptoms associated with Liver stagnation. If you are finding the transition into spring hard to deal with, come in to Wú Wéi Wellness for a treatment.
Tip #2 - Vision & Planning
The Liver is associated with planning for the future, and its companion organ, the Gallbladder, is all about making decisions and judging wisely. When Liver and Gallbladder are moving freely, it is easy to engage with the growth and change of springtime, but equally easy to feel stuck and frustrated if our associated organs are blocked up. Anger can be a helpful emotion if it drives us to make necessary changes in our lives, but it can be harmful too, if we are not able to convert anger into action.
A balanced Wood element will allow for clear vision, direction, planning and decision-making. Spring is the time to start something new, cultivate inspiration, enroll in a new course or work on creating new ideas. Whether it is work, social, or other plans baby steps count - we all start somewhere.
"The Liver is like the general, courageous and smart." – The Neijing Suwen
Tip #3 - Daily Movement
Ever notice when you are feeling a little stressed that exercise can make you feel better? That is because you are moving your Liver. Even 10-30 minutes a day, whether a brisk walk, qigong, yoga or dancing in your kitchen can do wonders to move the Liver.
The Liver controls the tendons in the body, so keeping them flexible and nourished are key to staying physically limber. Check in with your medical professional and incorporate morning and evening stretching into your routine. Or see if Feldenkrais might be right for you.
Just as important as movement is while you are awake, it is important to note the the Liver does its best work cleaning up your body while you are asleep. The Liver is most active between 11PM and 1AM and the Gallbladder between 1AM and 3AM, so it is advised you get to sleep before 11PM and note if you wake up during these hours at it might be a sign you need some support in these areas.
Tip #4 - Food As Medicine
Seasonally available foods will provide the balance your body needs to keep flowing freely. Eat greens! I am sure you won't be surprised to know that the color of the Liver is green. Foods such as sprouts, bok choy, swiss chard, asparagus, radishes, microgreens, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, leeks, bamboo shoots, baby greens and chives should be incorporated in regularly during this time to help the Liver with freely flowing. See what local greens are available as they are the most nutritious and delicious.
The taste of the season is sour. Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the free flow of the Liver & Gallbladder - think bile. Put lemon slices in your water, use vinegar and olive oil bases for salad dressing or enjoy an apple cider vinegar drink.
Avoid alcohol, salty, fried, rich, heavy, and spicy foods during this time.
Tip #5 -Nourish Your Liver
The Liver opens to the eyes and is responsible for proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when working at a computer or looking at your cellphone for extended periods. Exercises for the eyes such as blinking 20 times to rehydrate your eyes or simply sit up, with your back straight and, without moving your head, look to the right. From there, move your gaze slowly toward the ceiling, then left and down. Repeat 10 sets of these eye burpees clockwise and counterclockwise. This exercise particularly helps with eye fatigue.
Additionally you can wind down for bed by rubbing your hands together for 15-20 seconds and then place the palms of your hands slightly cupped over the eyes, without applying pressure. Let your fingertips rest on the forehead and try to not let any light through and breathe deeply, through your nose, for a minute. This exercise is not just good for the eyes, but the mind too.
Seasonal herbs include rosebuds, nettles, dandelion, hibiscus, goji berries, chrysanthemum and orange peels are great as tea for a variety of different pathways to Liver support. As with any herbal medicine, we encourage you consult with your herbalist and healthcare provider to find out which may be right for you.
Spring Has Sprung
Spring is a time of renewal - for the body, as well as for the Earth. Using these spring tips help support the systems of elimination and can bring the body back into balance. Wishing you a happy and healthy transition! Be well!