After what feels like an eternal hibernation, sweet spring is finally on its way. This year, the promise of renewal and fresh beginnings is more significant than ever — which is why we want to enjoy it in optimal health!
At HHA, we draw from a variety of ancient and modern wellness techniques to help you feel your best in mind, body and spirit. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is just one area we draw from, and we feel incredibly fortunate that Joe DelGiodice, our board-certified acupuncturist, Chinese and Western herbalist and naturopath, specializes in harnessing this ancient wisdom to support clients through the seasons.
Spotlight On… The Liver
If you have seasonal allergies, you’ll need no telling that the body experiences fluctuations just like the earth. In TCM, this “transition” period is eased by focusing on the organ associated with each season. Spring is all about the liver, which makes perfect sense when you consider its role in detoxification.
The liver plays a central role in all the metabolic processes in the body (more than 500!), so it benefits in a major way from a little “spring cleaning.” According to Joe, there are plenty of nutritious options you can easily add to your diet to support the liver. Take a cue from the season and think green; arugula, dandelion, celery, watercress, chard, lettuces and sprouts are all great choices. Liver-friendly foods tend to be naturally a bit sour or bitter, and also include lemons, limes and grapefruit. Shiitake mushrooms are another delicious choice.
“Mushrooms contain amazing compounds called beta-glucans, which are immune-boosting and simultaneously anti-inflammatory,” he said. “This is important because part of the problem we face with COVID-19 is a systemic inflammatory response in the body.”
Abundant hydration is also essential. Now is an ideal time to add mint, lemon, ginger, or goji berries into water or tea, all of which cleanse and nourish the liver. Joe also recommends a hydrating “lemonade” to encourage detoxification, which consists of water mixed with a squeeze of lemon, cayenne pepper, organic extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil, and grade B maple syrup.
Releasing Baggage for New Beginnings
Supporting the liver isn’t just beneficial for your body. In TCM, emotions and physical health are interconnected — it’s truly a mind-body approach.
The liver processes stress, and when functioning smoothly, it prevents pent-up tension and anger from controlling us. It’s also responsible for the smooth delivery of chi throughout the body. As the buds begin to blossom and fresh air revitalizes your home, you too can harness the energy of spring to welcome a new experience of greater wellbeing. Spring is the perfect time to shed the resentments and beliefs that no longer serve you, and nourishing the liver is a great first step.
In TCM, the seasons are also associated with an element. Springtime happens to be wood, since it’s a time of new life and growth (for nature, trees and humans alike). Balancing this element can help you keep your body, mind and spirit in greater harmony as we enter spring.
“Remember, flexible green bamboo is technically stronger than steel,” said Joe. “It can bend and adapt. This is the element that prepares us for the fluctuations and encourages us to be emotionally flexible.”
Wood asks us to look ahead across the horizon, now that we have increased daylight. It invites us to capitalize on the alert, vital energy of spring to refocus our vision. One great way to balance your wood element is to rise earlier in the morning, and take this time to consider the seeds you’d like to sow.
“Spring is the first season of the new year. Those New Year’s resolutions feel more in reach and we get that second chance to usher in a beautiful new beginning and greater wellbeing,” said Joe. “Now is the time to activate new life for 2021.”
Here’s a few final tips to start your “spring cleaning” from within...
● March is a changeable month — be ready for both warm and chilly days alike! Don’t forget to dress in layers to protect yourself from the wind and sudden drops in temperature.
● Schedule an acupuncture session to fine-tune your body for the moods of the coming season and completion of the past season.
● Check out this liver-friendly salad from Joe’s YouTube channel! You can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3eAUxgV2-g
● Avoid heavy or fried foods, which are taxing on the liver.
● Get outdoors as much as possible! Whether it’s getting your hands dirty in the garden or enjoying outdoor exercise, fresh air and increased Vitamin D will help you feel your best.
Thanks so much for reading this month’s post. We hope to see you soon at Hudson Healing Arts. Wishing you a spring season full of hope, health and renewal!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.