Spring is the first season of the year and represents birth, beginnings, and rapid growth in nature and in humans. Nature is more active and expansive; its energy is ascending. In spring we awaken from the confinement of winter and are restored as nature is. As you emerge from the quiet, inward energy of winter, nature too is awakening from its slumber. It’s time to clear out the old, and for planting seeds, literally and metaphorically.

Do you associate getting rid of the old stuff and spring house cleaning with this time of year?  Cleansing your body of toxins and residues of food excesses and purifying your mind and emotions are equally important in spring. Cycles of rejuvenation and purification are at their height in the spring—for humans and nature.

It’s time to rise earlier and awaken with the sun, and to have more contact with nature. Brisk outdoor walks will invigorate your body and mind. Spring can open you to a fresh, bright perspective on your life and cause you to blossom as nature does.

Have you noticed a relationship between the seasons and your personal health? Your mental outlook, emotional state and physical health change with the cycles of nature. Learning to flow your energy as nature does through the seasons can insure vibrant physical health and emotional harmony. How well you transition through the seasons is a good indicator of how balanced your health is.

The Chinese health philosophy, thousands of years old,  is traditional holistic medicine.  Its Five Element Theory provide a good understanding of how nature and your body are intimately connected, and mirror each other.  According to the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season relates to specific organs in the body and corresponding emotions. Seasonal changes are transitions and tend to be times when many experience more intensity in chronic health conditions, greater stress, and physical difficulty.

The TCM corresponding organ to the spring season is the liver and its complementary organ, the gall bladder. Following nutritional practices that improve the health of these organs will help you flow healthfully into this season with the vibrancy of nature.

The liverstores and distributes nourishment for the entire body, is involved in the formation and breakdown of blood, and filters unusable materials (toxins) from the blood. Liver cells make bile which aids digestion, and stores bile in the gall bladder to be used in the intestines for the breakdown of fats, and enhancing the ability of small intestines to absorb fatty acids.

Conditions Related to Spring

The liver regulates your emotions.  Some indicators of liver stagnation include: excessive anger, impatience, frustration, resentment, edginess, arrogance, stubbornness, aggression, and an impulsive or explosive personality. When these states are repressed and not transformed, they cause depression.  Mood swings are liver related.  Emotions are an expression of qi (pronounced chee). When the liver is overloaded its energy becomes stagnant.  That energy seeks release and is often expressed through extreme emotional states.

A healthy liver is reflected in patient, calm, orderly, creative, self-expressive, confident, direct, clear-minded, passionate, and decisive behavior.

The liver rules the health of tendons and eyes. Related disharmonies include tendon and ligament problems, and  eye problems, including cataracts, glaucoma, inflamed, red or dry eyes, night blindness, excessive tearing. These and other visual abnormalities all mirror the energetic health of the liver. Swellings and lumps in the body, and migraine headaches are other symptoms of a stagnant liver.

The liver stores and purifies blood, and when the liver is stagnant, blood purification can be inadequate, leading to the release of toxins through the skin. Impure blood is a cause of acne, eczema, carbuncles, boils, acidosis and allergies. Toxic blood feeds all degenerative conditions, including arthritis and cancer. Hormonal balance  is regulated by the Liver, and many menstrual and menopausal difficulties are rooted in a stagnant liver.

Causes of Liver-related Imbalances

Excesses of many types, including rich, fatty, greasy food, chemicals, intoxicants, denatured food, and unexpressed and repressed emotions harm the liver. Spring is a good time to lighten up these excesses. Your eating habits of one season are reflected in your health during the next season. You can flourish in spring as nature does by incorporating foods and practices that are harmonious with the season.

Herbal Remedies

There are many safe, effective herbal formulas for harmonizing the liver thereby correcting the imbalances that cause all of the above-mentioned imbalances.  I intentionally do not have them on my website.  Many people with no training or understanding of herbal formulas can do more harm than good when self medicating.  To find the best formula for your health conditions it’s best to consult with a professionally trained herbalist. Schedule a session for best foods and supplements for your constitution and condition. Or contact by phone, 412.361.8600, or email to deborah@wholehealthresources.com

Foods for Spring Health

While cooking food helps to maintain digestive balance, it’s time to use lighter and simpler food preparation; shorter cooking times at higher heat to thoroughly cook the food; light steaming, quick sautéing, and simmering. Baking, broiling and pressure cooking create more heat in the food and are more suitable for the winter months and all year round for those with cold conditions.

The color of spring is green. Adding lots of  green plants to your diet will put you in harmony with the season and with balanced health. Choosing foods with the expansive qualities of spring–fresh greens, sprouts, and young plants–will help to eliminate any excesses from the heavier eating and cooking of winter.

Include fresh dandelions, watercress, and other hard, dark, leafy greens, lightly steamed.  Use leeks, scallions, sprouts, chives, parsley, and asparagus. You may want to include high chlorophyll products such as chlorella, algae, wheatgrass or spirulina. They all have different properties and are not one-size-fits-all. Contact me for help determining most effective chlorophyll products for you. Green foods with an upward rising energy are beneficial because they clear stagnancy and cool heat in the liver. They offset stress from alcohol and drugs, reduce cholesterol, cleanse the arteries, detoxify the liver, and have antioxidant properties.

Include some sprouts and other raw foods for their cleansing and cooling properties. Daikon  radishes are also helpful for clearing liver stagnation as is peppermint tea.

It’s also useful to include some pungent cooking herbs for their ability to move stagnant Qi (chee) and improve a sluggish liver. Include bay leaf, dill, caraway, marjoram, basil, and fennel.

The whole grains hulled barley and Hato Mugi (also called Job’s Tears) cool and cleanse the liver and should be emphasized during spring.

The sour flavor is most active in the liver where it counteracts the effects of rich, greasy food, and the heavier foods of winter. It functions as a solvent by breaking down fats and protein. Sour helps in digestion to dissolve minerals for improved assimilation and can help strengthen weakened lungs. In spring it’s appropriate to emphasize some sour foods such as  lemon,   sauerkraut, vinegar, pickles, plums, berries, tart apples, rhubarb, sourdough bread, and sprouted grains..

Increasing these foods can help correct physical and emotional imbalances of this element.  Of course it’s equally important to minimize fatty, heavy, congesting foods and to eliminate intoxicants and chemicals. Doing so will give you the vitality to enjoy all the activities of the warmer seasons.

Eating less food, having the bigger meal earlier in the day, and avoiding late night meals will reduce excesses, improve digestion, and cause you to feel lighter and more energetic as you move from winter to spring.

Spring Cleaning for the Body 

Because of environmental factors, spring and fall are the most auspicious times to embark on a cleanse, and there are many approaches. Their appropriateness is based on individual patterns, and extreme detoxification is not recommended.

Cleansing and detoxification are neither appropriate nor recommended for pregnant and lactating women; those with serious physical and mental degenerations; or those who are deficient, frail, weak, or underweight.

Click here for Gentle Spring Cleanse (a general cleanse); for a customized approach to cleansing and regeneration for your constitution and condition, schedule a session.

Toxic Thoughts and Emotions

Spring encourages and supports letting go and clearing out the old. This may mean habits; personal truths that have been guiding your life; ways of being in the world; work and relationships that are not supporting your highest good; and poor nutritional choices.  Purging yourself of outdated beliefs, attitudes, and toxic emotions that are not supporting your health and happiness clears stagnant energy that may be keeping you heavy and stuck.

It is helpful while embarking on a physical cleanse to work on mental/emotional clearing. Emotional repression harms the liver; causes mood swings and depression; and compromises physical health and happiness.

What would you like to give birth to in your life? It may be a creative project, a new relationship, a more challenging and fulfilling profession, a nourishing lifestyle, or a healthier, fit body.  Creating a vision statement is akin to planting seeds in the garden. Plant the mental seeds now by writing your goals, feeding and nurturing your dreams, and taking action toward them. Watch them blossom and come to fruition as nature does in the warmer months.

Journal your thoughts and feelings. Include those that you want to clear out of your life. Emotions are often a metaphor for what you’re holding onto in your physical body.  The process of writing can bring to your awareness thoughts and emotions that are keeping you where you are. Reflect on their positive purpose in your life.  Negative emotional states can cause you to make poor food choices eventually causing health problems.

Renew your relationship with yourself by making a decision to love and respect yourself by eliminating negative self-judgment, perfectionism, and living in the past. In doing so, the miracles that are occurring in nature will be reflected in your life. A more radiant, vital you will soon emerge.

Your body, mind, emotions and the environment are not separate and are mimicking each other. Seasonal changes are an opportune time to strengthen your whole health. Take your cues from the natural environment. When you adapt yourself to spring transitions with appropriate foods and practices, you will maintain good health, and flourish as nature does.


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