Spring, Chinese Medicine Align to Support Wellness

From The Shoreline Times; Aprit 27, 2018 by Maureen Goss

Ah, spring on the Shoreline. People venturing into their yards with rakes instead of snow shovels, scraping the dead vines to uncover fresh earth already shooting sprouts. Daffodils dotting the landscape turning green after the brown blanket of winter wanes. Empty benches in town are full again and on the town green kids are playing while babies are strolled. People walking their dogs stop for long chats in the newly warm air.

Of all the seasons spring affords the most movement, whether in sap flowing through the trees, crocuses breaking through the earth, or buds beginning to blossom. The increased warmth and light makes not only our outer world come alive again, but our inner world as well. Our body does a rather dramatic internal tango as it realigns with its new partner (spring) that strives to step up the pace from winter’s slower rhythm. What can we do as we align with the principles of Chinese Medicine to support health and rejuvenation in this season of rebirth? Here are four suggestions:

Eat green, bitter and sour: Chinese Medical theories view each season as having a corresponding organ system that is more active than the others. In spring it is the liver, often referred to as the “commander” of the other organs, because of its function in controlling the flow of blood and ensuring a smooth flow of qi (vital life energy). Bitter greens help to cleanse the liver. Broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, watercress, escarole and frisse can all be incorporated into recipes or cooked alone to enhance any meal. Sour foods are good in the spring as well, so think of adding lemon or lime to your water, pickle slices on sandwiches and extra vinegar on salads. I get my water ready for the day by squeezing fresh lemon into it and drink little sips all day.

Get outdoors: Getting fresh air and sunlight is good for jumpstarting the internal organ systems. Put on some walking or hiking shoes to explore the trails on the Shoreline. We are lucky to have so many choices. Go for a relatively flat walk by the sea at Hammonasset Beach State Park, or pick a most vigorous trail in Westwoods like the yellow circle. My favorite loop is a 45-minute moderate sprint starting with The Good Sisters trail off of Moose Hill Road and returning on the blue rectangle. If you would rather stay near to a town center, then park your car near the Guilford Green and walk to the marina and back. In other words, there is always somewhere to walk on the Shoreline, even if it is just around your neighborhood. One of the functions of the liver is to control the flow of blood. Walking gives the liver a good workout. Go at your own pace.

Express yourself: According to Chinese medicine, a healthy liver moves one toward creativity in all of its uniquely personal manifestations. Take advantage of the season’s energy to start a new project or finish an old one. Readjust your list of goals. It might be time to design a small container garden in some corner of your house or yard, pick up a paintbrush, or begin writing that memoir. Or you might enjoy joining a class like tai chi, yoga or qigong. Getting the circulation moving in new ways can relax and energize and give a fresh perspective on life.

See an acupuncturist:A competent practitioner of Eastern medicine can feel liver stagnation in the pulse, see it on the tongue and in the eyes, and hear it in the voice. Irritability, depression and frustration are all signs pointing to the need to free up the circulation. Seasonal “tune-ups” are effective in dealing with unresolved issues that can grow into greater problems requiring more serious intervention. If someone shows signs of “liver qi stagnation”, the most common diagnosis in spring it can be treated with acupuncture needles, Chinese massage (tui na) or other techniques like guasha and cupping (remember the black spots on Michael Phelp’s back?) to remove stagnation and stimulate circulation.

Finally, maybe just being able to sit outside again and watch the world walk by will be your perfect spring awakening. Find your fit and enjoy.

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