From the Blog

Liver Health for Spring with Acupuncture

Finally, after several months of hibernation, the chill of winter is behind us and spring is in full swing. The ground has thawed, the flowers are blooming and the days are getting longer. It is a time of regeneration, growth and new beginnings. At the same time, these seasonal cycles that we observe in nature are also happening inside our bodies. While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, springtime inspires the urge to move forward and grow.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each season is associated with an organ system in the body, and spring’s corresponding system is liver. It is responsible for keeping qi (our vital energy) circulating freely and smoothly throughout our bodies, cleansing our blood and filtering out toxins, and managing our emotions. When our qi is flowing well, we move through life smoothly without a buildup of toxins, stress and tension. However, when we are chronically stressed and overworked, eat a diet high in rich or processed foods, don’t take time for deep, restful sleep and are constantly exposed to chemicals and pollutants, the energy of the liver can become “stuck” and the functions in the body for which the liver is responsible are thrown off balance.

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • Fatigue
  • Outbursts of anger/irritability/frustration/restlessness
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling overwhelmed with stress
  • PMS and other hormonal imbalances
  • Sluggish digestion/elimination
  • Tension/pain in muscles and joints
  • Headaches
  • Allergies
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Skin breakouts

These are all symptoms of a pattern of disharmony in TCM, referred to as “liver qi stagnation”. So what can you do to give your liver a break, get your qi flowing and move into the season with ease?

  1. Eat your greens! Spring is associated with the colour green, so consuming vegetables such as parsley, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, dandelion, sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli or algae like spirulina and chlorella will help to cleanse a congested liver and move qi. To support digestion, try steaming or lightly sautéing your vegetables, rather than eating them raw (which takes more of your body’s energy to break down).
  2. Instead of your morning coffee (or at least before it) start your day with a cup of warm water with fresh lemon. Sour flavour is associated with the liver and gallbladder in Chinese Medicine and helps to get qi flowing and move toxins out of the system. Sour foods also help to stimulate the secretion of bile and digestive enzymes to aid in proper digestion.
  3. Get outside! Fresh air, sunlight and movement invigorate stuck qi. Walking outside is a great way to relieve stress, which is a major cause of liver qi stagnation.
  4. Try daily morning exercises that involve stretching and deep breathing. According to TCM theory, the liver works hard to filter toxins from our blood between 1-3am while we’re sleeping. Moving your body in the morning will help to activate the liver and get blood circulating again to nourish the muscles and tendons (and prevent pain, stiffness and inflammation).
  5. Get Acupuncture to help smooth the liver and bring your body back into balance. Even a single treatment can begin to ease symptoms of stagnation because Acupuncture moves the qi circulating in the channels/meridians of the body.
  6. Consider a “spring cleanse” to lighten the load on your liver by eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, dairy products and chemicals from your diet.  Even just a week or two of lighter eating can offer enough support to get rid of the stagnation we may have accumulated during the winter so that we can move through the season feeling lighter, happier and allergy-free.

Late April and early May is when liver energy is
at its peak. If you’d like to learn more about how to safely and gently
detoxify your body, ease your symptoms and re-balance with the support of
acupuncture, TCM nutrition and western herbal medicine,
contact Vedalift Natural Health Clinic to schedule an appointment.