10 Chinese Medical Tips for Spring

Spring is here! Our days will continue to grow longer and the light and warmth will become the norm. Woohoo!

Do you look forward to this time of year and yet can you relate to it being intense and slightly tumultuous? Do you want to know why and how to ease the transition from winter to spring?

Spring is the season of change, growth and expansion. As in nature when the grass starts growing, similarly our energy is rising upward and outward too. If we are remotely in harmony with nature, we likely feel the desire to get moving more. It doesn’t serve us to remain in a stagnant winter slump.In Chinese medicine, we look to nature for insight and strive to align ourselves as close as possible to its natural tendencies so as to minimize resistance and conflict within.

Here are 10 tips to gracefully step into Spring and begin again:

1) Be FLEXIBLE! 

Spring corresponds to the Wood element. In balance, we will act more like bamboo and feel strong and stable. We’re flexible, bending and adapting easily regardless of what's going on. Out of balance, we are like an old brittle tree that doesn’t bend easily and if we do, we may just break. Our mind and spirit are fragile, inflexible and we feel closed off.If we resist this change in season and stay stagnant we will feel stuck and experience symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, irritability, short temper, headaches, ear aches, and eye issues.

2) The LIVER and GALLBLADDER are the organs associated with Spring.

The Liver stores, filters and cleanses the blood. We don't want thick sludge backing up our filters so hydration is non-negotiable. Drink plenty of water to help flush and cool the system. 

Sour foods stimulate the bile, Qi, blood and body fluids.  Sour includes fermented foods such as kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar, and kimchi. Green apples, lemon, lime, romaine, asparagus, dandelion, dill, rye, and quinoa are considered sour.  The sour flavour breaks up fat and helps relieve stagnation.

Definitely give the liver and gallbladder a break by eating less fatty foods. 3) Be mindful of your EMOTIONS!

Because our energy is naturally rising, it is easy for us to react before we process things. It is common to fly off the handle before we know it this time of year.

The darker heavier emotions of the liver and gallbladder include anger, frustration, resentment, irritability, hostility and rage.

The more positive and lighter emotions of the liver and gallbladder include compassion, patience, acceptance, benevolence and honesty.

It has been a challenging year so let’s try to be mindful as we Spring forward. Remember, people can’t unhear what we say off handed in a reactive state of mind.

4) Get MOVING!

Energetically, the liver is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of Qi in the body. Exercise is the best thing you can do to attain optimal flow in your body. 

Adding stretching to our exercise routine gives us flexibility in our body and mind. Stretches and exercises that incorporate twisting the torso open the diaphragm and help the Liver and Gallbladder loosen up and perform optimally.Examples of foods that help move stagnation include: beets, taro, sweet rice, apples, strawberry, peach, cherry, pine-nut, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. 

5) Think GREEN when it comes to spring!

Like in nature where things begin to turn green, invite more green plants into your home. Eat more spouts and all things green in order to cool and cleanse the body.

6) CLEANSE INTERNALLY! 

This is the perfect time of year to let go of intoxicants such as alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and stimulants such as coffee. Feed off Spring's naturally stimulating propensity.

Eat less and lighten your load. Cook for shorter periods of time - steam and sauté your food more than you roasted and bake your foods. Eat more fresh and less processed foods.

Nutritionally, this is a good time to do a gentle cleanse or fasting, with raw vegetables and fruit juices.  Cleanses and fasts are highly personal and can be remarkable when properly tailored to your individual constitution and then there are times when they aren’t appropriate at all.  I recommend checking with your practitioner to see what might be best for you.7) CLEANSE EXTERNALLY! 

Spring cleaning is a natural and intuitive inclination. Clear out the cob webs! Clean your external surroundings with chemical free products. My favourite essential oils to clean with for a clearer mind and fresh scent are lemon, orange and peppermint. Cleaning up your external space will simultaneously clear up your internal space.

Get out the universal trash can and remove all that is in your way, weighing you down! For new dreams and aspirations to take hold and come to fruition, we need to create a clean slate with fertile soil to grow in. 

8) Get to bed by 11pm!

The liver/gallbladders peak time to cleanse and filter the blood is between 11pm-3am. Read this blog and download this chart to see the natural circadian rhythms of all our other organs.

The livers job is decidedly energy intensive and performs best when the body is resting so getting to bed by 11pm on a relatively empty and alcohol free stomach more nights than not is definitely a lifestyle practice that your future and aging self will appreciate.  9) Protect yourself from the WIND!

Wind is the pathogen we need to protect ourselves from anytime of year, but especially in the spring and fall. Wind, like in nature rustling the treetops, typically affects the upper part of the body including the head, especially the back of the head and ears, and neck all the way down to the mid back. While it is getting warmer, continue to protect these more vulnerable areas.

Common symptoms of wind invasion can include stiff or sore neck, headaches, runny nose, earaches, sneezing, sore throat, itching, lacrimation (involuntary watery eyes) and bring on or intensify allergies. Wind can also intensify our emotions and we are more prone to paralysis, like Bell’s Palsy and even strokes, now more than any other time of year, especially the more vulnerable and elderly population.

10) VISION AND PLANNING!Quite literally our liver energy is responsible for the health and lubrication of our eyes. Poor vision, redness and or swelling of the eyes, dry eyes are due to a liver disharmony.

According to Chinese medicine, the liver houses the aspect of our spirit that never dies, and therefore contains our reason for being. It is called "Hun" and it gives us insight into our vision, purpose, planning, direction and the momentum to take action in our lives in meaningful ways.

Once a plan is in place, the liver gives up the reins to the gallbladder to be decisive and discern how to best move forward in order for our vision to come to fruition. Difficulty planning and setting goals often indicates that the Liver is out of balance and indecision and difficulty taking steps to move forward often indicates that the gallbladder is out of balance.

In vice we indulge in anger, frustration, resentment, violence, substance abuse and demand justice.

So, now that you are coming out of winter hibernation and hopefully took the time to rejuvenate yourself, what's your plan? What are you going to give birth to this Spring and onward? And what steps are you going to take to make it a reality? If you have difficultly being clear on this, incorporate some of the tips above to help your liver and gallbladder out this season. 

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are also very helpful to clear stagnation and bring balance to the liver, gallbladder and the entire body leaving nothing out. Your mind body and spirit are addressed and part of every treatment.

Wishing you Spring in your step this season with a clear and focused mind and the motivation to move forward towards your dreams and purpose in peace, health and happiness!

 

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