Sunday, March 13, 2011

spring: seedlings, pollen, and your...liver?

Although the temperature and steady downpour of rain here in Portland may not exactly feel spring like, the plum trees, forsythia and daffodils remind us otherwise. As I’m sitting here writing I can see a bright pink plum tree bursting with buds and flowers against the grey sky. It’s a reminder that with the oncoming of the new season, that it is a good idea to reflect on the past winter and start preparing for spring.

As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I have a specific perspective on spring. Spring is traditionally associated with the Liver and Gall bladder; in this post I will focus specifically on the Liver. The Liver is represented by the fresh green color of a plant’s new growth, wind, sour taste, muscles and tendons and anger. Knowing this information can help inform some easy and positive changes you can make during this spring to better enjoy the changing season.

The Liver responds to sour tastes like lemon. A good routine to put into place is drinking a glass of room temperature or warm lemon water in the morning. The sour taste of the lemon helps to alkalinize your body, which is a nice counterbalance to the typically acidic conditions a lot of us have built up during the long winter months, especially with the many fine places to order up comfort food here in Portland!

Eating fresh greens like kale, chard, nettles, dandelion greens and chickweed also help the body recharge a sluggish metabolism. Too much raw food at this time is not a good idea however since it can be too cold for the digestive system, so it is optimal to lightly steam them, or make an herbal tea.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Liver is associated with muscles and tendons in TCM. If you have found yourself to be less active this winter try to implement some stretching and exercise into your daily routine. How we nourish and support the organ systems associated with each season determines not only our current health, but carries over into the next season. Start off slowly with your routine, and remember it’s not summer yet, so dress warmly to avoid catching a cold!

On a recent walk in the woods I saw nettles beginning to peek up from underneath the layers of leaves. If you are a spring time allergy sufferer nettles can be one of your best allies against your body’s response to pollen. In my experience it is good to begin building up your system with strong batches of nettle tea during the winter, but if you haven’t don’t fear! But do begin to take freeze dried nettles immediately. There are specific acupuncture points and techniques that can also help alleviate allergy symptoms. Dietary approaches should include avoiding mucus producing foods in the diet like dairy, sugar and cold food/drinks.

The predominant emotion of the Liver is anger. Springtime is an explosion of life, color and productivity and while that is amazing and welcome, it’s also tricky. Too much movement too quickly whether it’s a longer to do list, or a pulled muscle from not stretching properly, can cause frustration, which in turn can cause anger. Take on the new season slowly and with a still partially inward consideration of what is good and nourishing for you. Take some time to yourself to go for a walk, get a massage or some acupuncture, maybe plan out your garden.

If you find yourself needing some assistance this spring or want to talk about any of this further please contact me. And in the meantime, Happy Spring! We’ve made it!

This is a post from nightingaleacupuncture by Kristen Dilley, MSOM, LAc.

1 comment:

Jacquelyn said...

Ahh...perhaps my liver is the reason I've been craving lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in my drinking water lately....