Let’s spring forward. It is the season where life is vibrant and fresh, where the plants are growing and the flowers come out. Spring is like the birth of a foal, after it has been hidden away deep in the winter months. It is time to flourish and grow, it is time to do, to set goals and accomplish lifestyle changes.
The liver in Chinese Medicine is the archetype of spring. It is wood in nature and the Gall of life. It is spring. It is the liver Qi (energy) that plans our life through the free flowing of energy, bring into fruition or our goals smoothly and wisely. In naturopathic medicine the liver transforms and eliminates the byproducts of metabolism. The liver is the great detoxifier. It is also rich in blood, and stores it throughout the day, releasing and free flowing the blood when we need it the most. Hidden away in winter, the blood retreats into the interior, for the acceptance of rich foods. In spring are nourishment changes, and thus more liver supporting foods and herbs are necessitated.
The herbs used by me in the Maitland Wellness Centre are sourced both from Chinese patent herbal medicines and Western herbal tinctures. Typically, after a thorough assessment and the identification of diagnosis, herbs are prescribed as an adjunct or as the main treatment in tandem with acupuncture and other Chinese medicine modalities. The herbs chosen in Spring provide support to the liver, helps with detoxification and provide nutrients found in spring, of course herbs are also chosen for your particular presenting condition. Foods are also recommended that will help support you in spring. In Chinese medicine the sour flavour is used to benefit the energy of spring and it’s effect on the body. From a naturopathic medicine perspective we use the bitter flavor to benefit the liver organ.
Typical bitter herbs used in spring are Dandelion tea and St Mary’s Thistle and also bitter foods such as mustard greens, parsley leaves and collard greens.
Chinese patent medicinal formulas include Xiao Yao Wan and Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan that helps move stagnation in the body or mind. In Chinese medicine these herbs are said to promote the free flow the energy or blood of the liver. Sour herbs like Schisandra are used in Chinese medicine as well as sour tasting foods such as vinegar, sour breads, wheat and Kim Chi.