Springtime is a time of renewal and growth and in Eastern Medicine this season is associated with the liver, gallbladder, tendons and joints. As abundant sunlight increases and the start of yang energy unfolds, it is important to prepare the body for this change. The liver is associated with the Wood element in Eastern medicine and energetically speaking, it is where the emotion of anger is stored. If care was not taken over the winter months to restore the body with nourishing, warming foods and ample rest, spring can feel more like a burden rather than buoyant and rejuvenating. When the liver is overwrought with stasis you may notice feeling more irritable than usual or your joints feel stiff and achy. You may also experience worse than usual allergies being that the liver can overact on the lungs, thus producing sinus issues. Or you may notice a sluggish digestive system with bloating, gas and pain since the liver can also wreak havoc on the spleen and stomach.
Spring is a great time to gently cleanse the digestive system with an abundance of dark leafy green vegetables, fresh foods and limiting or avoiding heavier foods such as meats and dairy. Since everyone already comes with a built-in detox system (liver and kidneys) the only necessary steps are to reduce the daily load on these organs and incorporate more self-care.
Here are some simple ways to begin your Spring Cleanse:
1. Upon rising drink 1 - 2 glasses of room temperature or warm water and for an added benefit, squeeze in some fresh lemon. It's a great way to get the juices flowing to soften the liver.
2. To help the liver expel any toxins from the previous day, do some simple stretches with deep breathing exercises, especially any side bends or twists to "wring out the liver". Qigong is an excellent way to incorporate both - sign up for a class at AcuBalance!
3. Before getting in the shower practice daily dry brushing. It helps keep your skin clear of debris by loosening dead cells, stimulates acupressure points and awakens your Qi! All you need is a natural bristle brush or a loofah. Some experts say to start at your feet and use long upward strokes toward your heart, but there are no hard rules, just go with the flow!
4. The contrast shower is an effective way to stimulate vitality and promote detoxification. Alternating between hot and cold water while you shower causes the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids to move rhythmically giving your body an early-morning detox. This temperature contrast helps strengthen the nervous, circulatory, musculoskeletal and immune systems. *Contraindicated in some medical conditions - ask your doctor.
5. Drink Green! Juicing for breakfast is a great way to "break-the-fast" lightening the load on your digestive system first thing in the morning. Drinking green juice balances your pH and gives you a direct shot of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein you probably would not have the time to consume in an average day. And of course it's great for your liver! See the Green Juice recipe at the end of this blog.
6. Receive weekly acupuncture, massage, energy work and/or cupping to assist your healing process during your cleanse. You may experience emotional and physical detox symptoms the first week you begin a cleanse and that is why it is especially important to keep your Qi moving smoothly!
7. Get nutritional counseling. Eastern nutrition emphasizes the properties or nature of food to balance your individual constitution. Make an appointment to receive individualized nutritional guidance to learn which foods work best for you.
8. Sweat, Breathe and Let Go. The body heals eight times faster when you exercise regularly. Just get moving in whatever way works for you. Learn simple meditation and breathing techniques to help center and calm your mind. At AcuBalance we offer meditation and Qigong classes, check our website for details.
(And shh. . . coming soon . . . YOGA! Look out for a big announcement soon!)
Spring Green Juice Recipe (serves 1)
1 large cucumber (peeled if not organic)
2-4 stalks of kale
As much dandelion as you can handle
2 stalks of celery
1 pear or green apple
1" piece ginger root (optional)
Juice all ingredients and drink up that green goodness!