Spring is a good time for rejuvenation and change. It is a also good time to think about supporting the Liver. In TCM, the Liver Qi regulates the flow of qi as it travels throughout the body. Picture a highway system which flows freely with no traffic or congestion. The Liver Qi regulates this traffic. Stress in our life tends to effect the Liver qi. When this happens, the Liver qi does not flow smoothly, and it gets stuck and builds up. Headaches, PMS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Depression, Irritability are all thought to be associated with Liver Qi stagnation. There are many ways we can support the Liver and assist it in its job.
Diet – In TCM, every organ has a color associated with it. The color associated with the Liver is Green. It is no surprise that all the green leaves, grass and plants are sprouting this time of year! Eating fresh leafy greens in the springtime will support proper Liver function. This includes dandelion root, sprouts and wheatgrass. Avoid heavy foods (such as salty foods, greasy foods and meat) that tend to clog the liver and cause stagnation.
The taste associated with the Liver is sour. Eating sour foods is thought to promote good Liver function. Put lemon in your water, use vinegar and oil in your salads and taste a crunchy dill pickle.
Chinese Herbal Formulas and Supplements – One of the most commonly prescribed formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine is Xiao Yao San which “job” is to support the Liver in regulating the flow of Qi energy. The uses of this formula are widespread and includes headaches, digestive distress, Irritability and digestive distress. In addition, supplements like Milk Thistle, Dandelion root, Co-Enzyme Q-10 and Essential Fatty Acids (fish oils) all provide excellent support for the Liver. Reducing alcohol, caffeine and processed foods also supports proper liver function.
Stretching – In TCM, one of the functions of the Liver is to oversee the tendons and muscles. Maintaining agile muscles and tendons by stretching and movement keeps the flow of qi and blood flowing smoothly. If the muscles are nourished (through diet and blood), they can easily tear.
Emotions – the emotion associated with the Liver is Anger. Anger (when unexpressed) can have a toxic effect on our body – especially the Liver. When anger is expressed it dissipates and goes away. When we express ourselves and communicate, we reduce the risk of our stored emotions turning into illness and disease.
What I love most about Traditional Chinese Medicine is the whole body approach to health and wellness in which prevention lays the foundation for a long healthy life!