The winter time has passed in its somber glory; having brought skies of marbled greys and trees so graceful in their naked beauty. Those cold days for slumber and reflection are waning and a new vitality rises. The air breathes balmy, dissolving the ice that keeps the seeds and tree buds asleep. The blossoms decorate, like cake frosting on the trees in luscious creams and pinks. Spring has arrived!
Finally, it is the long awaited change of winter to spring, a time of regeneration, renewal and new beginnings. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Liver, Gallbladder and the wood element are associated with the Spring season. How to transition into this beautiful season using TCM theory:
Balancing the Wood Element
The Wood element has multiple functions. Similar to a tree, the function of Wood can either be strong and unyielding like the rigid trunk of the oak tree or rooted and flexible like stalks of bamboo. Depending on what we encounter in life both are sometimes needed.
The Wood element governs the emotions. If it is well balanced, we bend and yield when our body requires and we stand up and are strong when that is required of us. Very often when the Wood element has been negatively affected, people feel as if they are not in control of their emotions. They are subject to fits of rage, or boiling anger. When a person feels stressed this is also an indication that the Wood element is out of balance.
A good way to support the wood element is by calming the nervous system and easing into a more relaxed state. Take time during the day to shift from your current activity and receive acupuncture, listen to some gentle music, meditate or read something for pleasure.
Liver and Gallbladder
The Liver is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) and blood and is the organ that is most affected by stress and strong emotions. The Liver’s partner organ is the Gallbladder.
- The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood in your body. It controls the volume and smooth flow of blood in your vessels and also stores the blood. If the Liver is deficient symptoms such as menstrual irregularities, anger, brittle nails and hypochondria pain may present.
- The eyes are the sensory organ related to the Liver. If you have any eye issues, including blurry vision, red eyes, or dry eyes, it may be a sign deep down that the Liver is not functioning smoothly.
- The tendons are the tissue associated with the Liver. Traditional Chinese Medicine says that strength comes from the tendons, not muscles. The Liver blood is in charge of nourishing the tendons, ensuring that we can move freely and easily. If the Liver blood is deficient, the tendons will become dry and symptoms such as spasms, numbness, or muscle cramps may occur.
- The Gallbladder receives bile from the Liver and stores it, releasing it when needed during digestion. The smooth flow of bile aids Stomach and Spleen digestive functions. If the Liver becomes sluggish and bile does not flow smoothly, digestive signs such as vomiting and hiccups occur.
Dietary Recommendations to Protect your Liver
In spring we naturally eat less or detox the body of the fats and heavy foods of the winter. A diet high in fatty, greasy foods as well as processed foods tend to stagnate the flow of Qi of the Liver.The diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods that are nutrient dense, such as dark leafy greens.
The Liver is particularly receptive to the flavour of sour and consumption of green vegetables, such as asparagus, romaine lettuce, watercress, dandelion leaves, celery, and mint. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine standpoint, these foods can help to move the Liver energies and ease any imbalance. If you crave sour foods that may be your Liver communicating that it needs an extra boost, so be sure to include apple cider vinegar and sweet and sour recipes in your diet.
Emotions and the Liver
Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. If you are often irritable, get stressed easily, feel like you have a “lump” stuck in your throat, or have trouble reasoning or going with the flow of things, you are experiencing a Liver function problem. Experiencing these emotions excessively or for a long time can seriously unbalance the function of the Liver.
Try to stay calm, especially during the spring. Don’t get caught up in spring’s intense new energies. Take things easy and go at your own pace; take a nice long walk in the park or do other gentle yin exercises to relax your mind, body, and spirit. Let go of any stressful situations that you can and do an activity or hobby that you enjoy.
Acupressure Massage Points to Boost LIver Qi:
Massage these points a few times a day for 5 -10 minutes.
Liver 2 (Xing Jian) – Moving Between – Commonly used for headaches, dizziness, irregular menses, anger and even insomnia.
Liver 3 (Tai Chong) – Great Rushing- Principal point for promoting the free-flow of the Liver Qi. Helps regulate menses, alleviates headaches, and eye conditions.
Gallbladder 34 (Yang Ling Quan)- Yang Mound Spring- Used for conditions of the muscles, such as muscle spams, as well as helping relieve symptoms related to the Liver.
Liver 8 (Qu Quan) – Spring at the Crook – A good point that aids treating conditions in the genital region.
Bladder 18 (Gan Shu) – Liver Shu- Treats conditions of the lateral costal region, pain and cramps, excessive anger, stress, blurry vision and back pain.
If you would like to learn how to access these acupressure points, or come in for acupuncture to address your symptoms call 604-873-9355 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lidia Pamies