We’re well into the spring season and I’m seeing a lot of people in the clinic with some liver/gallbladder imbalances so I thought I’d take a minute to address it and what you can do on your own to help correct those imbalances. In Chinese Medicine, the liver and gallbladder are the organs associated with the season of spring and the element of Wood. Almost everything in Traditional Chinese Medicine is rooted in nature and the energy of the seasons is no different. SO, look outside and notice what you see: green shoots in the garden beds, trees with new growth reaching for the sky, blooms, warm one day, snow flakes the next. Yep, that’s spring! The energy of spring is one of new growth, upward momentum, and excitement. Everything that’s been hibernating all winter is waking up and on the move!
What we see in nature is reflected in our bodies as well. The days are getting longer, our energy is growing and we’re more motivated to get things done. Yard work and Spring cleaning, anyone? This is a time when all of the goals, hard work, and intentions that we set throughout the long winter months start to come to fruition. Spring is a transition time from yin to yang, and as we move out of this inward reflective winter yin time and into the upward-moving big energy of spring, there may be a few hiccups. I often use the analogy of starting a car that has been sitting all year. It takes several tries to get things running smoothly. As the liver is a chief organ of Spring, and it is easily stagnated by stress and our modern lifestyle, I focus a lot of spring acupuncture treatments working to clear stagnation and encourage free and easy movement of the liver.
How do you know if your liver qi is stagnated? Symptoms of disharmony in the liver might look like this: headaches, irritability or anger, a feeling of “stuckness”, difficulty moving forward, allergies, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, feeling depressed, difficulty getting a deep breath, loud sighing, bloating and menstrual cramping. Whew! None of that sounds fun, so here are a list of things you can do to encourage your liver qi to move free and easy this spring!
- Eat some fresh greens: In addition to: garlic, turmeric, cherry, nettle tea, sweet potato, tofu, chicken and mint.
- Acupuncture! This is a given, but I have to throw it in. Acupuncture is wonderful at moving the qi and reducing stagnation.
- Spring Cleaning: going through and getting rid of things in your closet or pantry that you no longer use or need is literally removing stagnation from your surroundings. It also helps you become more clear and decisive about what you chose to bring into your space moving forward.
- A spring cleanse: this can be simple, you don’t need to buy fancy products or supplements. Start by taking a week to cut out processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and eating out! Just like spring cleaning, this helps to re-evaluate your habits and be more selective on what you reintroduce. Add extra water your your regimen as well.
- Get outside: there’s no better way to really understand the true nature of the season than to go out and be in it. Put your hands in the soil, move your body on a hike, and soak in some of those warm sun rays!
- Wear a scarf: The wind is intense out there these days and Chinese Medicine views wind as one of the pathogens which can invade the body disrupting all kind of functions, most commonly- a stiff upper back and neck. By keeping your neck covered and warm, you’ll cut down on the chances that wind can disrupt the flow of qi.
If you have questions about how the shift in season is affecting your body or what more you can do to curb it, schedule an appointment and come on in to say hi. Also, stay tuned for seasonal tips on how to beat the heat this summer!