Spring has sprung in Brisbane. September is here, and the days are getting longer, warmer and more colourful. The jacarandas, the red flame trees, the golden flowers of the silky oak, and the purple-pink bougainvillea – all are luring us outside, where the Brisbane Festival is kicking off.
Around the world, Spring is a time of renewal.
In East Asian medicine, Spring represents the Wood element related to Liver energy. It is the time to attend to the organ systems of the Liver and Gallbladder.
Whilst Winter was a time to conserve energy and focus on our inner world, Spring is a phase for new beginnings, regeneration and rejuvenation. In Western medicine, the Liver plays a crucial role in filtering Blood, detoxifying chemicals and producing essential proteins our bodies need to grow and repair.
According to East Asian Medicine, the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. It affects thereby all organ systems, emotions and the mind. Anger, irritability, and frustration are signs that our Qi is not flowing properly and will cause Liver Qi Stagnation over time.
Liver Qi Stagnation Signs and Symptoms
Here are some of the symptoms commonly associated with Liver Qi stagnation:
- Pain or discomfort anywhere along the ribcage
- Mood swings
- A sensation of a lump in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Headaches and migraines
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- PMS with irritability or swollen breasts
- Irregular or painful periods
How to resolve Liver Qi Stagnation
1 Dietary support for the Liver
In Spring, we naturally eat less to cleanse our bodies of the fats and heavy foods of winter. The diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods that emphasise the Yang energy with its ascending and expansive Spring qualities.
Young plants, fresh greens, sprouts and pungent cooking herbs are all wonderful to eat. Sour taste belongs to the Liver, according to Chinese medicine. Sour flavour counteracts the effects of rich, greasy food, helping to break down fats and protein. Also, keep in mind in Spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time but at higher temperatures. Light steaming and minimal simmering are ideal.
Aromatic herbs and sour food that assist the Liver and move Liver Qi stagnation:
- Bay leaf
- Caraway seeds
2 Exercises move Liver Qi stagnation
With the help of regular exercise, you can maintain a healthy weight and support your Liver health. Any movement gets the Liver energy flowing and ameliorates stagnation whether indoors or outdoors, whether it’s running, walking or lifting weights. The Liver also rules the ligaments and tendons. According to East Asian medicine, when Qi and fluids are deficient, our tendons are not nourished. They can easily tear, become inflamed or cause muscle contraction. The body becomes therefore inflexible and rigid. Exercises that stretch our tendons and ligaments are consequently excellent. Incorporate morning stretches into your daily routine. Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga all support healthy Liver function.
Metaphorically speaking, our ‘Blood’ collects and rejuvenates in our Liver at night when we sleep. We all know how vital good sleep is for our health. In ancient Chinese medicine, not enough rest leads to weakened Blood, preventing our Qi from moving well. Depleted Liver blood can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, muscle tightness and insomnia. Resting allows our Liver to do a better job, namely to keep our energy circulating smoothly.
4 Acupuncture treats Liver Qi stagnation
Acupuncture is a wonderful modality to support your Liver energy’s overall health and balance organ systems and emotions. Acute or chronic stress, anger, and frustration are often associated with Liver qi imbalance. Emotional stress affects all organ systems. Blocked emotions are the most common cause of ‘stuck Liver qi’ in our society. When we excessively feel negative emotions or try to push them aside and suppress them, Liver Qi starts to stagnate, and organ systems can get affected.
Acupuncture helps remove energetic blockages by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘Rest -and Digest-System’, leading to more relaxation and calm.
Supporting Liver energy is also particularly crucial in female physiology, ensuring that menstrual periods are regular and occurring without pain and discomfort.
We’re here to help!
So, leap into Spring, feel rejuvenated and re-energised. Enjoy all that this beautiful season has to offer us. Now’s the time for an acupuncture tune-up. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Ondol Clinic to see how we can help you put the spring back into your step.
Pitchford, P 1993 “Healing with Whole Foods”, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California.