Traditional Chinese Medicine Dietary Tips for Spring

The Spring Equinox occurs on the 21St of March and with the change of season comes the shifting of energy. We’ve seen this already with the return of the robins and budding plants and trees. In spring the energies of the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians are most active. The time of day when liver is most active is 1-3am and gallbladder is at its energy peak between 11pm and 1am. If you consistently wake at these times of day, the liver and gallbladder meridians are most likely out of balance.

Dietary factors which can create gallbladder imbalance are:

Excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates, greasy and fatty foods, trans fats, fructose and dairy, inadequate water intake, fried food and food sensitivities.

Dietary factors which can create liver imbalance are:

Overeating, excessive use of alcohol, overconsumption of fructose, omega 6 fats, trans fats, exposure to toxins and overuse of prescription drugs.

To improve functioning of the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians:

  • Juice or blend beets, lemon, apples, carrots and dandelion greens
  • Eat more garlic, onions ,cauliflower, broccoli, kale and cabbage
  • Liver cleansing foods include: cilantro, turmeric, leafy greens, apples, asparagus, lemon and lime (to name a few)
  • Drink dandelion tea
  • Have a cup of lemon water at the beginning of the day
  • Identify food sensitivities
  • Use coconut oil in lieu of vegetable oil. It does not have to be emulsified by the liver or gallbladder.

Early Spring – Beginning of Renewal

We’ve spoken about the progression of the seasons with winter being the time to rest and conserve our energy and spring a time of activity and expanding our energy. If you are a person who was unable to rest and recharge during the winter months you may be feeling worn thin by now. When our bodies are continually exhausted our immune system is weakened and we can easily get sick.

Our exhaustion is not just physical but many times physical, mental and emotional. This is a good description of modern day stress. Here are some tips to alleviate this cycle of exhaustion.

  • Try to get to bed around the same time every night. The routine will help the body to relax
  • A few drops of Lavender essential oil on your pillow can promote relaxation
    Try to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • To calm your mind, write down any to do lists or things to remember before you go to bed. Get these thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You can also keep pen and paper on your night stand if your thoughts wake you up.
    Develop the habit of deep breathing. Breathe from the bottom of your diaphragm. You can’t deep breathe and be stressed at the same time.
  • Do some type of exercise, yoga, walking, running, etc. at least 3 times a week.
  • Meditation is wonderful for self realization. If you are stuck in your head you may not be aware of exhaustion until it overcomes you.
  • Drink a cup of warm water with lemon every morning. It aids with digestion and helps the gall bladder release toxins more quickly
  • Have your energy balanced or have some type of bodywork.
  • Take care of your body; it’s the only one you have.

Spring – A Time for Renewal

In a few weeks the Spring Equinox will herald the beginning of spring but we can already see the changes in nature all around us. The energy which retreated into the roots of plants and trees is now rising and creating buds and flowers. We are coming out of the season of energy conservation and entering a time of new beginnings and renewal. Our bodies which are a microcosm of the universe are also undergoing change. We look forward to the increased activity, warmer weather and expansion of spring.

The organ meridians associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder. The element of spring is wood and its energy has the ability to break through obstacles. In TCM the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body; when liver energy is balanced the physical and emotional activity of the body functions optimally. Liver is also associated with ligaments and tendons and the eyes.

To promote health during spring:

  • Stretch- to maintain flexibility and tendon health, yoga, tai chi, Pilates
  • Eat greens- fresh leafy greens and sprouts can improve the liver’s function
  • Sour tasting food and drinks stimulate the liver’s function. Add lemon, vinegar and pickles to your diet.
  • Outdoor activity- fresh air improves liver flow
  • Eye exercises- take breaks when looking at a computer monitor or TV for extended periods of time and do eye exercises
  • Milk thistle tea is a great detox. It helps cleanse the liver from environmental toxins, alcohol, medications, pesticides and other substances

Have your energy balanced