Spring is here now in full swing, with Nature coming alive after her winter sleep. Tree buds and blossoms on display, green seedlings poking their way up out of the garden soil, birds and other animals scurrying around tending to their nests – springtime is a period of vigorous growth and activity.
According to the Five Phases theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, springtime is associated with the Wood phase and its related organ, the Liver. Unlike wintertime, where Nature retreats inwardly to hibernate and becomes more still and silent, springtime relates to centrifugal movement, similar to how new plant growth sprouts upwards and outwards.
This upwards and outwards movement of energy is especially important in keeping the Liver system healthy and in balance. If it becomes stuck and stagnant in the acupuncture meridian pathways, a wide variety of symptoms can be experienced, including:
- migraine headaches
- neck tension
- sciatica pain
- irritability or moodiness
- irregular or painful menstrual periods
- indigestion or heartburn
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Many of our lifestyle choices and habits can have a negative impact in causing this stuck energy and stagnation in our Liver system, such as eating too many refined or heavy foods including sugar and meat.
Emotional factors are also a very important aspect to the health of the Liver system, so learning how to deal with stress and let go of negative emotions is vital to maintaining a healthy balance and allowing our Liver energy to flow properly and circulate throughout our bodies.
Additional Tips for a Healthier Liver
- Pucker up – from the Five Phase theory of acupuncture, the sour flavour is associated with the Liver. Adding a spoonful of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to drink in a glass of water, or using them as a simple homemade salad dressing is an easy way to incorporate more sour flavours into our daily diet.
- Eat your greens – again from the Five Phase theory, the green colour is connected to the Liver system. Eating a wide variety of greens, including kale, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, rapini, mustard greens, arugula, salad greens, barley greens, wheat grass, spirulina, and chlorella can help to support good Liver health. The Daily Dozen from Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org is an easy to use checklist that can help remind us to get our daily dose of greens and other important nutrients into our regular diet.
- Let go and de-stress – as mentioned, regulating our emotions is an important part of caring for our health. Learning how to let go of negative emotions, in particular anger and resentment which are both directly linked to stagnation in the Liver system, is a difficult and lifelong process but can have a profoundly positive effect on our overall health.