Spring is in full swing, bringing new life, new energies, and new beginnings.
It’s a time of expansion, regrowth, and regeneration of the spirit. Days are longer, flowers are blossoming, plants are growing, new seedlings sprout, and animals awaken after a long winter hibernating.
Now, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by an organ, and spring is the time of the Liver. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of “qi,” blood, and emotions.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, invisible channels (also called meridian pathways) run through the body, connecting your organs and creating a communication network.
Qi is the life force or vital energy that runs through these meridians. A blocked qi at any point on a meridian pathway can cause health conditions. That’s why the Liver function of keeping your qi flowing is so critical.
But what does spring have to do with the Liver energy, you might ask?
Well, spring is the time of the year when the Liver energy starts to rise. Many of us feel more energetic and more active. However, if you have an imbalance in your Liver energy (called Liver qi stagnation), your energy can’t flow freely, and spring can be the time of the year when your Liver symptoms flare up.
These symptoms range from headaches, hay fever, and breast pain to anger and irritability.
So, to help you support your liver this spring, we’ve highlighted below the key things that can cause the Liver energy to go out of balance before explaining the top five ways to care for your Liver according to TCM.
What Causes Liver Imbalance in Chinese Medicine?
According to TCM, there are a few different causes of Liver imbalance, including:
1) Mental and emotional disharmony: Liver qi stagnation or Liver imbalance can result from certain emotions such as resentment, fear, or anger.
2) Severe physical or emotional trauma: this could be from an accident, surgery, or physical and emotional abuse.
3) Negative emotions and stress:in TCM, the body and mind work together. If they don’t, it can lead to imbalances and make you sick. That’s why negative emotions or extreme stress can create a Liver imbalance, disrupting the flow of qi.
4) Spleen, Kidney or Heart Qi deficiency: When these organ systems are overburdened (by such things as by eating a poor diet, lack of good quality sleep, overthinking and worrying, having too heavy of a workload or too much daily stress, excessive exercise or physical strain, chronic emotions that are difficult to process), the Qi can become deficient, slowing down too much and causing Liver Qi stagnation.
5) Foods that are difficult to digest, such as dairy, processed foods, gluten, and alcohol
5 Ways To Care For Your Liver With Chinese Medicine
If you suffer from Liver imbalance, lifestyle and dietary adjustments can help balance the Liver energy, encourage its smooth flow and harmonize your body and mind with the season.
1. Make Your Liver Happy By Eating Your Greens
After a long winter eating rich food, your liver might be clogged.
In TCM, green is associated with spring and the liver. That’s because greens have cleansing properties and can help you harmonize with this new season and rejuvenate the Liver qi.
Some of the leafy greens recommended to cleanse the Liver and help this critical organ perform its detox function include chlorella, spirulina, and dandelion greens. And when it comes to revitalizing Liver qi, some favorites are Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and mustard greens.
2. Smooth the Flow of Liver Qi By Exercising Regularly
What better way to move your qi than by moving your entire body?
That’s right, moderate exercise such as walking, doing yoga, or cycling can be a powerful way to help relieve qi stagnation during spring.
And if you don’t have much time to exercise, here are some easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:
- Going for a walk during your lunch break
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift
- Jogging for half an hour in the morning or after work
- Do chair dips or seated leg raises at your desk
- If you can, invest in a stationary chair and jump on it when you watch TV
Note that overdoing it will cause stress on the body and it will be counterproductive. So, make sure to pick gentle exercises and movements.
3. Do not Deplete Yourself - Take The Time To Rest
In TCM, our “Blood” collects in our Liver when we’re in a lying position. In other words, blood goes back to the Liver when we sleep. Now, according to the principles of Chinese medicine, not enough rest can lead to weakened blood. And this, in turn, prevents the Liver qi from flowing.
Some of the symptoms of Liver qi stagnation due to a lack of sleep include anxiety and tighter muscles. Resting properly and sleeping well at night will allow your liver to perform optimally and keep the energy flowing smoothly.
4. Manage StressWhile stress impacts all of the organ systems, the liver is the first to be affected. In fact, stress is the most common cause of Liver Qi stagnation.
Some of the things you can do to release stress and restore balance to your Liver qi include:
- Talking to friends, family, or even a third party like a therapist to get support
- Exercising to relax your body and mind
- Journaling to unload your negative emotions and reflect on ways you can overcome challenges
- Meditating to ground yourself in the present moment, let go of any jumbled thoughts and reset
5. Get Regular Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture increases the circulation of qi and is an excellent way to move Liver qi. It can help release stress and anxiety, and relieve headaches and other common symptoms. So, if you’re experiencing migraines, headaches, hay fever, constipation, irritability, or sudden bursts of anger, it might be time for an acupuncture treatment to balance Liver energy and heal your ailments.
AtOlanani Wellness, we’ve been helping our clients balance their Liver energy for years, leveraging the power of acupuncture and specifically formulated plant-based stress relief products such asChillax.
Spring is the ideal time to cleanse and rejuvenate your liver, so whether you’re experiencing the symptoms of Liver imbalance or would like to check whether your Liver Qi is flowing freely, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help!