Spring Settles Upon Us
Spring brings with it warmer weather and renewed physical and mental energy.
For many people, however, the transition from winter to spring isn‘t always easy.
The cold winter months are a natural time for rest and introspection so it can be a
challenge to get moving again.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tells us that settling into spring can be even
more difficult if there is an imbalance in the Liver, which is responsible for the flow
of Qi (Life Energy) throughout the body. An imbalance or lack of Qi can cause a
whole range of emotional and physical symptoms such as anger, depression, mood
swings, abdominal pain, menstrual problems, and even allergies. If you suffer
from any of these symptoms, then you are aware that they can be barriers to moving forward and living in harmony with the seasons.
The good news is that you can take charge of your health and kick-start your spring. First, talk to me about how to address any underlying imbalances that might be affecting your energy levels. I’ll have some suggestions for you, and may even talk about dietary changes, supplements, herbs or exercises that can help.Next, decide how to tackle any stressors at work or home that might be keeping you from feeling your best. Consider acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, yoga, massage, or talk therapy to help you handle stress and keep from becoming overwhelmed.
Lastly, plan to get moving. Exercise is an important way to boost your energy and keep your Qi flowing. Keep these tips in mind:
Take it slow, especially if you haven’t exercised over the winter. Use common sense to avoid overdoing it and injuring yourself.
Set small goals for yourself such as walking for 15 minutes each day. Set new goals as your fitness level improves.
Warm up before do strenous exercise. Include exercises like pilates and/or yoga to help stretch and strenthen the body.
Do something you enjoy, so your workout doesn’t feel like work.
With a little planning and some assistance from TCM you can shake off those winter blahs and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of spring.
References:Ready, Set, Grow, Connors, C., Body & Brain magazine. Spring 2005.The Liver and Liver Qi Stagnation, Acufinder Magazine. http://www.acufinder.com
Spring is a happy time
Spring is a happy time. Bunnies hop about. Flowers emerge in long
forgotten corners of your garden. The birds return and sing so loudly they
wake you in the morning.
This is not a time to be angry.
But according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, being angry is exactly what you can expect if you don’t balance your wood element.
TCM, spring is represented by the element wood. Wood represents birth and newness, the time for fresh ideas and new starts. Unsurprisingly, its color is green like the fresh growth of spring.
Wood governs your spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A wood imbalance can lead to spinal problems, poor flexibility or arthritis. Wood also governs your eyes.
But most important for your mood, wood governs your liver. Your liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) and smooth flowing Qi means health and vitality. The emotion associated with your liver is anger. If your liver is imbalanced your Qi will be disrupted and you’ll be angry.
Healthy (and happy) spring acupuncture practices mean balancing your wood element and caring for your liver.
Try these spring acupuncture recommendations, to keep your wood balanced and your liver healthy.
Cleanse. Cleaning your colon releases accumulated toxins, undigested food, parasites and fungi. With a clean colon your digestion is more efficient and your body is healthier.
Detox your liver. Reduce or eliminate alcohol or drugs that are toxic to your liver. Consider a detox that specifically targets your liver. Call me if you need suggestions.
Stretch. Start or recommit to a healthy stretching routine. Try yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or other exercises that move, loosen and flex your joints.
Exercise your eyes. Massage your face, especially around your eyes. Roll your eyes and move them in figure 8s. Practice focusing on distant objects and then focusing on close objects in quick succession. Put time limits on your computer sessions. These exercises strengthen your eyes and can improve your eyesight.
Control your anger. Create a healthy anger management plan. Journal, meditate or get counseling. Put limits on stressful situations. Find activities that refocus your anger in healthy ways.
Beginner’s Guide to Detoxing
Grab the mop and broom, throw open the windows and freshen up the house. After the staleness of winter, spring is a great time to clean. The fresh air automatically invites a thorough scrub or a deep dust.
But don’t stop at just cleaning your house. Clean your body too.
Spring is a great time to detox and rid your body of accumulated toxins from the previous year. Traditional Chinese Medicine agrees with this principle and recommends spring as an especially good time to cleanse and detox your liver.
Detoxing is the process of cleaning your organs and tissues. It enhances health, vitality and rejuvenation; it can clear symptoms, treat diseases and protect against future health issues. After a detox you think clearer and feel better. You have more energy. Friends may notice that you glow.
What does Detoxing Mean?
Detoxing can take many forms, but they all have a few things in common:
•Detoxing rests your body, especially your digestive system. Detoxing encourages your organs and tissues to release stored toxins. You can usually count on drinking a lot of liquids to flush your body.
•Detoxing encourages overall health and increases your awareness of all the ways we accumulate toxins—from lack of exercise and electromagnetic fields to negative thinking and unhealthy relationships.
Many people are hesitant to detox. Some are concerned that they will be hungry or have low energy. Some worry that they’ll end up with a headache. Others are afraid that their digestion will be disrupted and they’ll need to stay close to a bathroom. And many people just don’t know where to begin.
There is a trick to successfully accomplishing your first detox without hunger, low energy, headaches, upset digestion or overwhelm—keep it small and simple. Don’t shock your body. Detox in little steps. Use common sense.
A Beginner’s Detox Regime
There are 3 simple keys to a successful first detox:
1.Start small. Your first detox should be 1-3 days and take advantage of night hours. For example, begin with a 36-hour detox. Start your regime at night, after dinner. Continue through the next day and break your detox with breakfast on the third day.
2.Ease into your detox and ease out of it. Eat a healthy diet at least 2 days before and after your detox. Avoid junk food, sugar, coffee or alcohol. Be kind to yourself and don’t shock your system.
3.Drink lots of water to help flush the toxins.
Below is a list of easy beginner detoxing regimes. Pick the one that suits you best.
Eliminate junk food. The first level of detoxing is to reduce your toxic diet. Eliminate sugar, processed foods, soda, coffee and alcohol. Eat regular meals, but restrict junk food.
Eliminate grains, meat or dairy. The next level of detox is to focus on fresh, plant-based foods that are high in nutrition. Increase your fiber and nutrients. Decrease foods that are higher on the food chain.
Juice fast. A more advanced level is juice fasting. You will need to own a juicer for this. Make sure you combine high quality fruits and vegetables and that you drink enough to avoid hunger and fatigue. Click here for some great info on beginner juice fasting.
Elimination Diet. This is generally a 3 week cleanse where you will cut out most food allergens. You will have to avoid major allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn, as well as some lesser known ones like night shade veggies (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers) and peanut butter. You also have to avoid sugar and processed foods. It can be challenging, but also very illuminating, especially if you have digestive problems.
Detoxing is a boon to your health, but it can be a challenge if you have never done it before. To add extra value to your “spring cleaning,” get an acupuncture tune-up before and after your detox. I can recommend the best regime for your constitution and support the detoxing process.
Healthy Spring Acupuncture Diet
Follow these tips for a healthy spring diet that supports your liver.
Eat light. Overeating taxes your liver.
Eat greens. Sprouts, wheatgrass, spinach, kale and dandelions are particularly good foods in the spring.
Eat sour? Sour is the flavor associated with spring, however sour flavors are only recommended for certain constitutions. Instead of dousing your greens with vinegar or lemon juice dressings, consult with me to find out what flavors are best for you.
Drink milk thistle tea. Milk thistle detoxes your liver.
Season your food. Pungent spices like basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf are excellent for spring cooking—and they taste good.
By keeping your wood balanced and your liver healthy you will be happy. You’ll feel vital, flexible and clear. If you have questions about healthy spring acupuncture practices feel free to call me for recommendations.
Acupuncture Alexandria LLC - Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., FABORM