staying healthy in the spring

We all welcome spring – some of us northerners more so than others. What’s there not to love about spring? But did you know that you are more likely to experience intense feelings of irritability, sometimes accompanied by anxiety and depression during the spring?

spring wood elementThis is because Spring is the time when energy is building up in us and is ready to burst out for expansion and growth. We follow the exact same patterns as Nature because we ARE Nature. Imagine yourself as a seed right now, impatiently waiting to burst through the soil and grow.

In Chinese Medicine, Springtime is associated with the Wood Element and the related organs are the Liver and Gallbladder. These are the organs that are all about taking action. Wood wants to move and do all the time, so in the springtime, this energy is just magnified. Frustration and impatience can easily turn into anger and frustration.

Some indications that your Wood Element may be out of balance

  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Headaches, migraines, or high blood pressure
  • Itchy, dry eyes – The Liver rules the eyes. A deficiency in Liver blood may lead to eye issues like floaters or myopia. If there is excess Liver heat this can cause red, bloodshot, or painful eyes.
  • Spasms – The Liver nourishes the tendons and ligaments and the smooth flow of energy to allow free movement. When the Liver energy isn’t moving, we can experience cramps, spasms, or numbness.
  • Rib pain – The Liver meridian runs along the rib area. A liver energy stagnation will be reflected in a distending discomfort around the ribs.
  • Brittle nails – The quality of the Liver energy is seen in the nails. If there is a deficiency, you may have dry brittle nails, with ridges or spots on the nails.
  • Digestive disturbances, including heartburn (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers
  • Menstrual irregularities, PMS, fibroids

Tips to Keeping Healthy and Joyful During Spring

  • Move – The Liver needs movement and so do you; so get outside and exercise in nature, observe the spring changes going on all around you, and invite change into your life.
  • Get Organized – Go through your home and office and get rid of stuff that you donʼt need to make space for the new to come in. Allow new things into your life.
  • As Without, So Within – Spring is the time to start a healthier diet and flush out the toxins so that the Liver can do its job more effectively. Begin by eliminating foods that stress the Liver, such as fried or very fatty foods. Sugar and white flour should be eliminated or minimized, and foods with chemical preservatives and food coloring should be avoided. Donʼt overeat. Try to eat slowly, savoring the flavors.
  • Practice Forgiveness – Grudges and resentments are indigestible and can do damage to Liver energy.
  • Try essential oils – Lavender, peppermint, camomile, lemon, and bergamot essential oils help to move the energy in the Liver and Gallbladder channels. Sandalwood oil is especially nourishing and grounding.
  • Try Something New – Think of what you would like to try, even if it seems scary. The small delicate sprout would never know its potential if it stayed safe within its seed. Be brave enough to begin sprouting.
  • What to Drink – Adding some lemon juice to your morning water nourishes the Liver which is especially important during the spring. Also, drinking herbal teas like lemon, peppermint or camomile can help to support the Liver and Gallbladder channels.
  • What to Eat – Avoid rich, heavy, greasy foods, or too much alcohol as much as possible in the spring because they can congest the liver and gallbladder. Try to eat some sour food (like kimchi and yogurt) and light meals with lots of greens. Bitter greens like dandelion, nettles, and arugula can be helpful to cleanse the Liver and Gallbladder and promote better digestion.
  • Detox – Spring is also a good time to try a Liver or Gallbladder cleanse, or adapt to a healthier diet.
  • Get Good Sleep – The Liver and Gallbladder recover from their daily stresses overnight and good sleep is essential. Certain types of insomnia are signs of a Liver imbalance.