Spring begins on the equinox in March when the day and night are equal in length. This is the welcoming in of a season of abundant sunlight and the start of yang energy. After a long winter of heavy foods to maintain warmth the Spring is a great time to gently shed some pounds and breathe new life into projects.
For some, Spring is also a time of great fertility and this is a good time of year to make plans for starting or expanding a family. If the reader is planning to conceive in the near future, care should be taken with her diet when doing a gentle cleanse.
The Liver and Gallbladder
In Eastern medicine principles the liver is where the emotion of anger is stored energetically. Holding onto anger is thought to lead to health concerns associated with the liver, such as the eyes and nails.
The liver is associated with the element of Wood in Oriental medicine and is fed from the kidneys which represent the element of Water. These organs should be working in harmony to prevent one wearing down the other.
A gallbladder’s job is to make bile that will aid in the digestion of fatty foods. This bile turns the fats more water-soluble so that they can be digested and absorbed in the small intestine.
Tendon and Joints
This season also represents the tendons and joints of the body. It is directly tied to the liver and a deficient liver qi can cause stiffness, weakness and pain in the joints and tendons.
Methods of Spring Cleansing or Detoxing
Every body comes with its own detox system: the liver and the kidneys. Many people will go on a Spring fast or cleanse to reduce the daily load on these organs. When considering a change in diet speak with a nutritionist, naturopathic physician or a primary care physician for guidance, especially when taking prescription medications.
Foods that are helpful for the liver to cleanse may include:
- Dark green vegetables – kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Onions and garlic
- Green and chamomile tea
- Flaxseed, olive and fish oils – all other oils should be shelved during a cleanse
- Juices – from carrots, beets, apples and ginger
A popular liver flush incorporates the following elements:
- Conscious release of negative thought patterns, anger and resentment
- Liver cleansing tea – usually made with peppermint, licorice root, fenugreek and other herbs that support healthy liver function
- Liver flush drink – a tall glass of water with olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper or other variants of the cocktail
- Castor oil packs – made with flannel or a cotton cloth and cold-pressed castor oil
- Daily dry brushing
In general the diet in Spring welcomes the abundance of dark leafy green vegetables, fresh foods, and discourages heavy foods such as meats and dairy.
Honoring the Wood Element
To incorporate the Wood element into daily life beyond diet some observers will plant a tree in the Spring. For those in an urban environment without access to a yard a donation to The Nature Conservancy through the Plant a Billion Trees campaign can be a symbolic touch.
A Japanese tea called Kukicha is made from the twigs of the tea leaf plant and can be purchased in tea bag form. Low in caffeine compared to coffee this twig tea is a delicious way to honor the Wood element throughout the Spring, or year-round.