Spring Cleaning: The Liver and Chinese Medicine

If you're feeling a bit frisky or the desire to be playing outside in the sun, you couldn't be more in touch with the change of seasons. Spring is quickly approaching and with that comes a change in our daily routine. 

While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, Spring is a time for regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit. Everything is starting to wake up - including us. 

In Chinese Medicine, this time of year is associated with the Liver and its complimentary organ, the Gall Bladder (Wood Elements). These organs help to nourish the tendons and connective tissues, they associated with the eyes, and they regulate the smooth flow of emotions. The Liver can also affect digestive function. 

5 Elements/Phases

March 20th marks the first day of Spring - a perfect time to give your Liver a little love - but why wait until then to start incorporating these healthy habits into you daily life. Honor the change of season and get a little spring in your step with these 4 simple suggestions:

1. Move Your Body! 
-Go outside and get some fresh air - Healthy Lung Qi helps invigorate stuck Liver Qi.

-Do some gentle stretching, yoga, or qi gong. Maintaining flexibility in the tendons and connective tissue, which is associated with the Liver, well help to relieve any stagnation (physical or emotional). 

2. Let Go. 
-If Liver Qi flows smoothly, emotions will be smooth, harmonious, and balanced. When the Liver isn’t flowing the way it should, there will be moodiness, frustration, depression, and irritability. 

-The Liver is associated with Anger. Holding onto anger and resentment constrains the Liver Qi. Let it go!

-Because the energy in the Liver and Gall Bladder systems increase in the Spring, people often experience an increase in stress, anger and anxiety during this season. When an outlet for this energy is found, these emotions can be transformed into creativity, opportunity and change. Spring is the ideal time to transform these difficult emotions by focusing on their movement and release.

3. Eat Lightly.  
-Our Livers help us get rid of the heavy stagnation we might have accumulated during the Winter months (which might manifest as seasonal allergies as the sludge moves up to eyes and nose). Its time to leave behind those heavier foods of Winter, especially heavy meats, dairy products, and wheat

-Consider cutting down on your Liver’s workload by reducing/eliminating alcohol, refined sugar, and anything artificial.

-Consider a cleanse, or even better, go on a Spring vacation from toxins for a week or two. (e.g. No sugar for a week or two, etc.)

-Eat green and pungent foods like onions and garlic, peppermint, basil, dill, fennel, turmeric, rosemary, parsley which all resonate with the upward, outward direction of the season and can be helpful in combating the winter sluggishness. 


-Young, tender shoots and green leaves, like asparagus, rabe, bean sprouts, and pretty much anything green and leafy. Kale, collard greens, watercress, romaine, dandelion, parsley are tremendously beneficial to detoxify that Liver of yours. If your digestion is weak, stick to cooked vegetables as opposed to raw, which require more energy to digest. And don’t overdo it on those bitter leafy greens - they have a way of making everything descend...if you know what I mean.

- If you suffer from Seasonal Allergies, try incorporating Nettle in your diet. Either cooking with or drinking it as a tea. Try this Herbal Tea Recipe.

-Drink some hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. A little bit of the sour taste gently helps the Liver dredge off toxins. But think moderation - too much sour isn’t good for the Liver.

4. Get Acupuncture!
-Acupuncture is all about movement. It helps to regulate the flow of Qi in the body - especially the Liver.

-If your frustrated Liver is starting to attack your digestive system (gas, bloating, acid regurgitation, diarrhea) acupuncture can help to put in back in check. 

-Regular acupuncture treatments can also help with Spring time allergies. Getting acupuncture now will help you enjoy being outside all season-long! Schedule an appointment today!