Spring is a time of re-birth and new growth; time for outward expression, like the first signs of plant life that burst out of the earth. It is a time for new beginnings and waking up. Spring is governed by the Wood element and the Liver organ in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The Liver circulates energy (Qi) and blood around your body and is responsible for clear vision and direction in life, creativity, healthy bowel movements, and regular menstruation (without PMS) to name a few. A balanced Liver is pivotal to the maintenance of good health, and one of the most susceptible to emotional stress.
Liver and Gallbladder in TCM
The Liver is a Yin organ and is paired with the Gallbladder, a Yang organ. The Liver meridian travels from the big toe up the inside leg, over the groin up to follow the line of the first five ribs. (It runs along both sides of the body-not just to the one side )
The Liver is known as the General (military) in the classical texts. It is responsible for a variety of functions:
- Storage, flow and volume of blood in the body
- Sending blood to the muscles
- Regulating Qi flow within the whole body
- Health eyes & nails
- Flexible sinews and tendons
- Gynaecology, menstruation, menopause
Some possible physical symptoms of an unbalanced Liver system in TCM are:
- Eye issues, floaters, red or bloodshot eyes, blurry vision, dry or itchy eyes, poor night vision, sensitivity to bright lights
- Brittle and dry nails, nail cracks and ridges
- PMS, painful periods, cramps, heavy blood flow, missed periods
- Symptoms of menopause
- Sinew and tendon inflexibility, spasms, cramps and numbness
- Tight muscles
- Bitter taste in mouth, dry mouth, thirst
- Red face
- Headaches and migraines
- High blood pressure
- Lump in throat
- Pain under the ribs
- Abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea
Emotions associated with the Liver.
- Kindness, generosity, patience, creativity, clear vision of one’s path
- outbursts of anger, jealousy, frustration, envy, difficulty expressing oneself or addressing conflicts constructively
Here are my suggestions for creating better balance for your Liver this Spring.
Simple Liver stagnation remedy.
If you experience many of the above signs, this recipe is great to quickly stimulate the Liver out of its stagnancy.
This recipe is helpful in the short term but shouldn’t replace making longer-term dietary or lifestyle changes you want to make (for your Liver’s sake)
• juice of half a lemon
• 1 tsp raw honey
• 1 cup warm water
Eat your greens!
Green is the colour of the Liver and Spring (according to Chinese Five Element theory).
Enjoy plenty of young plants, greens, asparagus, sprouts, mung beans, radishes, and lightly cooked foods. Use less fats, salts, processed foods, and strong spices in cooking.
Herbs such as basil, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, fennel, chamomile, chrysanthemum, dandelion root, lemon balm, peppermint, etc. are all helpful to balance the Liver.
Keeping a Happy Liver
The Liver is involved in emotional processing. How emotions affect our physical health and vice versa is an interesting area of research and exploration.
To keep the Liver system happy this season:
• Laugh! Have fun, relax, and enjoy the moment (meditation helps with this!)
• Find friends & safe spaces to express ourselves (creatively too)
• Practice being thankful for what we have now, focusing less on our dissatisfaction and disappointments.
• Seek support/ways to let go of, move through, or find peace with old emotions. Remember that spring is a time of new beginnings, and the Liver gets stagnated holding old grudges.
• Yoga, Qi Gong, expressive movement, dance, walking in and connecting with nature, acupuncture, and massage all move stuck Qi
Qi Gong Practice:
- Inner smile visualization for the Liver
- Hold the palms over the right side of the body, below the ribs over the Liver area
- Smile down to the Liver, filling it with kindness and the colour green.
- Thank your Liver for all the hard work it does for your body.
- Imagine inhaling a green light or mist into the liver organ, breathe in the positive emotions of kindness, generosity and patience.
- Exhale a grey mist, releasing the emotions of anger frustration and feeling stuck
- Repeat 5 times
2. Healing sounds for the Liver
- Start with hands resting on top of thighs, palms facing upwards.
- Bring the hands to the liver area.
- Inhale and raise arms above your head, interlink your fingers, pressing palms to the ceiling and lean to the left a little as you make the sound, keep looking up.
- Repeat 5 times
- Exhale with ‘shhhhhh’ like telling someone to be quiet.
- Repeat 5 times
Our acupuncturist Naheed can work with you to help harmonize your Liver. She is at Thrive every Wednesday.