TUNING YOUR BODY TO THE NATURAL SEASONAL CYCLE
Detoxifying with the change of seasons brings one phase of life to an end and prepares you for another. According to Chinese physiology, seasonal change can affect your health and wellbeing in profound ways. In ancient China the change of climate corresponded to the Five Elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. All of life is influenced by these five natural phenomena, including our emotions, body parts, internal organs, and environment. It is knowing how to work within the natural cycles of nature that can keep you healthy and, ultimately, happy.
Early medical doctors saw the "whole" person as an interconnected flow of energy between organs, tissues, and functioning systems in the body. This included the mental and emotional aspects of the individual as well. When one organ is congested it affects another organ, which in turn affects something else, resulting in physical Imbalance. Returning harmony to the body requires a balance of nutrients and energy feeding all of the systems.
As you move from one season to another, take note of what preceded it to know what will follow. The predictable movement of spring into summer; summer into fall; fall into winter; and winter into spring brings a change not only with the weather, but with the food and exercise your body will need. When you observe these natural transitions with an awareness of your body, you will know how to keep yourself healthy.
WHAT SPRING MEANS TO YOUR BODY
Spring brings us out of the heaviness of winter into longer days, new growth, and endless possibility. The Wood element represents spring. The primary organ influenced is the liver; the secondary organ, the gallbladder. Known as the "General" in Chinese medicine, your liver regulates the movement of vital energy and blood flow throughout the body. Imbalanced liver chi is reflected in the emotions as anger and frustration, while a harmonious liver chi brings calm and patience.
SPRING LIVER DETOX WITH NATURE'S ABUNDANCE
Spring is the perfect time to detoxify heavy winter foods and Nature just so happens to bring forth fresh young greens like dandelion, nettle, watercress, and asparagus to reduce liver excess. Other beneficial foods for liver/gallbladder include, spinach, baby turnips, green onions, leeks, lettuces, new potatoes, arugula, parsley, peas, red radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, and bitter greens.
In the spring it is important to begin a dietary transition by first eating less; then, one at a time, eliminate fatty foods: meats, cheese, cream, eggs, hydrogenated fats, and poor quality or excess oils. Other high-fat foods like nuts, seeds, alcohol, and junk food should be eliminated when allowing the liver time to detoxify.
To go deeper into cleansing the liver there are herbs and bitter tonics to support detoxification and the healing of this vital organ. For example, Dandelion is considered by herbalists to be one of the most nutrient-rich foods in the plant kingdom. The whole plant is edible and with its powerful diuretic properties and natural potassium content it is often prescribed by herbalists to relieve inflammation and congestion in the liver and gallbladder. Dandelion can be taken in tincture or capsule form or the young spring greens can be eaten raw in salads.
Foods with sour and bitter taste are what work the best for liver detoxification; and raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is one of the best tonics to cleanse liver/gallbladder. Try this drink several times a day to provide bitter-sour-sweet flavors needed by the liver in spring cleansing; or prepare fresh lemon or lime juice in water or salad dressing, which will also help to eliminate liver stagnancy.
RECIPE: APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TONIC
1 teaspoon raw, unrefined apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon honey or (equivalent) stevia 8 ounces of pure water
Combine together in a glass and drink slowly 30 minutes before a meal.
Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse LLC, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 30 years of study, experience and practice. The programs she has created, the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and the Ha-Tha Yoga Method, are offered as daily and weekly classes in New Jersey and soon to be on-line. You can find classes, workshops, retreats and teacher trainings at deliaquigley.com.