Spring and Chinese Medicine: Wisdom for Cleansing, Renewal, and Peace of Mind

Spring cleaning begins within: body, mind, and spirit.

There is a reason people often get inspired to start spring cleaning this time of year.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is the quintessential time of creating, cleansing, activity and movement, growth, and renewal.

In Traditional Chinese 5-Element Theory (the basis of TCM assessment which encompasses wood, water, metal, earth, and fire) spring is associated with the Wood element.

It’s also an auspicious time to focus on releasing emotions that no longer serve us—specifically those rooted in anger, resentment, frustration, and lethargy.

Just like bare, dormant trees being to grow buds and blossom; we too can harness the power of spring to slough off the old and usher in a fresh, beautiful new experience of health, mental clarity, and emotional well-being.

In today’s article, we’ll look at how to most effectively take advantage of the spring season for renewed health, including:

  • Which organs and meridians are emphasized in springtime
  • How to support your body’s natural detoxification processes
  • The most healing spring foods
  • The best way to maintain immune health and avoid springtime colds
  • Emotional spring cleaning strategies

Spring is All About the Liver and Gall Bladder

The Liver and Gall Bladder are at their peak of activity during the spring, making it a perfect time to focus on supporting their function.

The Liver and Gall Bladder work together to move blood and bile, and play pivotal roles in:

  • Spleen and Lung health—which can affect your immunity and susceptibility to seasonal allergies
  • The tendons—which can impact flexibility and strength
  • And your eye health—clear vision moving forward

While there are many ways to support your Liver and Gall Bladder, my advice is to take your cues from the season and take it slow.

For example, the color green is predominant in spring and the taste of spring is sour—these are perfect places to focus your eating awareness.

Leafy greens like dandelion, watercress, chickweed, baby greens, chard, lettuces, sprouts, and arugula all have powerful Liver/Gall Bladder purifying qualities, and can be easily incorporated into your diet.

Lemon or apple cider vinegar are also beneficial to move bile, especially taken in warm water first thing in the morning.

There are herbs which are known traditionally to offer support to the liver and gallbladder . Your practitioner can recommend the best regime for you, but some common herbs include:

  • For the Gall Bladder:
    • Artichoke
    • Hydrangea
    • Radish

The Most Healing Springtime Foods

In addition to those listed above, the following are springtime foods for detoxification, balancing Liver/Gall Bladder Qi, and supporting emotional healing:

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Beet
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Cardamom
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Coconut milk
  • Complex carbohydrates (brown rice, millet, potatoes, amaranth, etc.)
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Dill
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Tea
  • Legumes
  • Lemon
  • Lettuce
  • Mint teas
  • Oranges
  • Radishes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Spring Onions
  • Watercress

The Secret to Maintaining Springtime Immune Health (Keep One Foot in Winter and One Foot in Summer)

At the first sign of spring, it is so tempting to clean out our closets and pack up our winter clothes.

However, like fall, spring typically hosts high winds; which means we need to layer up if we want to protect ourselves from spring colds, allergies, and other immune-related challenges.

This doesn’t mean you have to wear a down coat if it’s 70 degrees out, of course. But a light scarf and windbreaker can go a long way in protecting your lungs from the effects of excessive wind.

It’s also advisable to continue consuming warm, cooked foods and liquids, in addition to the more cooling foods mentioned above (salads, etc.).

It can help to think of spring as a transitional season, where we keep one foot in winter and one food in summer for optimal health.

The Emotional Side of Spring Cleansing and the Liver/Gall Bladder

Spring is one of the best times of year to make some intentional personal and emotional development progress.

Why? Because the Liver, as the Yin organ, is responsible for the smooth flow of blood and emotions throughout the body.

It is also the organ most affected by stagnant emotions and stress.

Therefore, Liver stagnation or an overactive Liver can cause some significant emotional build up.

The Gall Bladder, as the Yang organ partner to the Liver, is responsible for storing and excreting bile and governs decision making, planning, dreaming, inspiration, and assertiveness.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time and the right back-pressure to inspire an emotional or spiritual breakthrough, take advantage of the spring season.

While bolstering Liver/Gall Bladder health can help move nearly all emotions and stressors, the following emotional discords are directly related to these organs according to Chinese Medicine wisdom:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Inability to forgive
  • Indecisiveness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of assertion
  • Lethargy
  • Letting go of old habits or pain
  • Procrastination
  • Rage
  • Resentment
  • Unfulfilled desires

In contrast (and more importantly), the emotional signs of healthy Liver/Gall Bladder Qi flow include:

  • A forgiving spirit
  • Assertiveness
  • Decisive
  • Even-temper/go with the flow
  • Fulfilled
  • Happiness
  • Inspired
  • Joy
  • Passionate
  • Willingness to let go

Best Spring Stress Busters and Emotional Healers

When it comes to emotional balancing, de-stressing, and nourishing your spirit take your cues from the season.

For example:

  • Take advantage of the warmer weather to get outdoors as much as possible (exercise and meditating outdoors is a great way to do this)
  • Increase your movement—start an exercise program of walking, dancing, Qi Gong, yoga, running, rebounding, swimming, etc.
  • Get your hands dirty and start an herb or vegetable garden
  • Walk through nature and listen to the birds sing
  • Call up an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and have a good chat
  • Laugh
  • Spring clean your home
  • Try something new
  • Find ways to expand your social circle like volunteering, hosting an event, starting a Meetup or joining a local club
  • Forgive as much and as often as you can
  • Do something spontaneous to rev up that sense of adventure
  • Check things off your to-do list
  • Enjoy a sauna, steam, or soak to help with detoxification
  • Get a facial and/or body treatment to slough off that dull, winter skin
  • Walk barefoot to get grounded and reconnect with the season

To recap:

  • Focus your attention on your Liver/Gall Bladder channel with respect to diet, stress, and lifestyle
  • Keep warm and protect yourself from the wind. A light coat and scarf will do the trick in most climates
  • Focus on of green, sour, and seasonal foods to help support Liver/Gall Bladder health
  • Allow your awareness to be on being emotionally flexible
  • Schedule an appointment with your local acupuncturist for a seasonal support session

Spring cleaning really does start from within.

Wishing you a joyful spring season of renewal and possibilities,

-Dr. Patricia

Originally published at patriciafitzgerald.com

Wisdom, Well-Being, Self-Care, Emotions

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