In Chinese Medicine, living in harmony with nature and the seasons is a recipe for good health.
As the days get longer and warmer, nature comes out of hibernation. All around, there are explosions of growth, activity, and vibrant fresh colours.
We are no different.
This time of year, we are itching to spend time outdoors, get moving, clear away clutter to make room for bright new beginnings, refreshing growth and change.
According to Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with an organ system in the body.
Spring, is associated with the Liver.
In TCM, a healthy Liver system maintains the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body, enabling each organ system to maintain balance and optimum function. The Liver also stores blood, regulates emotions, and nourishes the eyes and tendons.
When the Liver become imbalanced, often due to stress, improper diet, and lack of exercise, a person may feel angry, frustrated, depressed, and experience eye and tendon issues or aches and pains in the body.
Here are some tips to keep your Liver in tip top shape this Spring.
Get Active – Find some fun outdoor activities, and MOVE THAT LIVER QI”! Don’t forget to stretch, to maintain tendon health and flexibility.
Be Kind To Your Eyes – The Liver is connected to healthy eye function. Take regular breaks from computer and phone screens. Get a good night’s sleep by turning off electronics well before bedtime. The Liver’s best time for rest and rejuvenation is between 11pm and 3am. It is important to “hit the sack” before 11, to ensure that you are in a deep sleep by this time.
Eat Your Greens – Green is the colour associated with the Liver and Spring. Continue to eat nourishing root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, etc. Add seasonal fruits and vegetables, including young leafy greens and sprouts. In Chinese Medicine, the Sour taste has an affinity to the Liver, so include more of these. Gently warming pungent foods/spices are helpful this time of year, to ward off illness, boost digestion, and dispel wind. These include fennel, oregano, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, mint, spring onions, ginger, horseradish, chamomile, pepper, whole grains, legumes and seeds.
Detoxify – Love your Liver by eliminating all things which are heavy, stagnating, and toxic. Reduce or eliminate alcohol, fatty/greasy food, coffee, processed foods and chemical additives. Also, be aware of emotions and relationships which are “bogging you down” and stressing you out. Spring is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings – the perfect time to address issues head-on, and release stagnant unhealthy behaviours.
Chinese Medicine Please– Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine is a great way to achieve and maintain optimum health. Regular treatments help keep your body, mind and spirit balanced and in harmony with each season. Feeling anxious, stressed, irritable, tired, aches and pains? Perhaps your Liver needs some special attention! Make an appointment to get your “Spring Tune-up”.
What is so special about WIND?
According to Chinese Medicine, the weather and environmental factors have a direct effect on your health.
Excessive Wind, Cold, Heat, Damp, and Dryness can cause your body to become out of balance, resulting in ill health.
Wind is the most powerful of these external pathogenic factors as it has the potential to lead the other pathogens inside the body.
In nature, Wind appears quickly, can change without warning and is unpredictable. These characteristics are evident in the way Wind effects the body. Symptoms appear quickly, move around, and rapidly change.
* External Wind attack may cause chills, fever, moving aches/pains and common cold symptoms.
* Internal Wind is generated by an imbalance in the Liver System. It may cause dizziness, cramps, itching, spasms, tremors, pain that comes and goes, twitching, headaches, ringing in the ears. Emotionally, Wind can provoke manic depression, nervousness and emotional turmoil.
While Wind certainly occurs in every season, it is particularly powerful in Spring, as this is the time when the Liver is most susceptible to its effects.
In Spring, the weather can be very unpredictable. Be prepared for all types of conditions, and wear layers to keep protected from the elements. Be careful to cover the nape of the neck and upper back. This area is known as the “Wind Gate”, since wind can easily enter the body here.
‘Tis the season to appreciate the awesome power of Wind. Use it to your advantage to facilitate fresh vibrant energy, lightness, movement, and change.
To The Point
Got a sore neck, headache, or feel like you’re coming down with a cold? Well, we’ve got an acupuncture point for you!
Gallbladder 20 (Feng Chi), or Wind Pool.
As the name implies, this acupuncture or acupressure point is excellent at eliminating wind from the body. It also benefits the head, eyes, neck, can relieve pain, vertigo, convulsions, and symptoms of common cold.
Massage this point at the base of your skull, in a hollow between the origins of the sternomastoid and trapezius muscle.
Herbs For Health
Spring is the perfect season to give your Liver and Eyes some extra love, and to awaken your taste buds with light, fresh flavours!
Delicious as a calming tea and a refreshing aromatic spice, Mint (Bo He) is a herb used often in Chinese Medicine.
Mint has an affinity to the Lungs and Liver.
Its cooling pungent properties promote sweating to help alleviate the common cold (wind-heat type).
Mint is used to treat headaches, soothe irritated eyes, calm itching, ease mild indigestion, and relieve stress.
Widely used as aromatherapy, added generously to meals, salads, or sipped as a soothing tea, it is easy to see why mint is prized for its ability to calm and refresh.
You Are What You Eat
This salad looks and sounds delicious. Another reason to look forward to fresh Spring vegetables – and, of course, strawberry season!
Warm Spring Salad
From “Oh She Glows”
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, sliced into rounds or half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or other sweetener)
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt & lots of pepper, to taste
lemon zest, for garnish
1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place into a medium pot. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15-17 minutes, or until fluffy and all the water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, grab a very large skillet or wok. Sauté the leek and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add in the asparagus and sauté for another 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crisp. Stir in the strawberries (optional), peas, and parsley. Heat for a few minutes and then remove from heat.
3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt) to taste. Pour dressing onto skillet mixture and stir in the cooked quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper & enjoy! This would also be lovely with nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.
As always, it is a pleasure to be able to share the wonderful healing art of Traditional Chinese Medicine with you.
May the freshness of a Spring breeze
Bring wondrous new beginnings.
May the warmth of the sun
And nature’s joyous stirring
Bring delight to the soul.
Yours in good health,