Spring is often associated with spring cleaning-opening the windows to freshen up the house, out with the old in with the new.  Our body is also a house of sorts.  Like the house we live in, it too needs some spring cleaning as the nourishing forces move within our body with the coming of spring.

In Chinese Medicine, each of the organs is associated with a season, which means to say that the organ associated with that season will share characteristics of that season.  Like Spring, the Liver encompasses qualities of green, growth, new life and is associated with the surge of energy to promote the new growth processes.  It may help to visualize the Liver as a bud of growth holding all the potential energy and promise of abundance.  Although it’s own innate inner energy is at it’s best at this time of year, if one’s Liver prior to this season is not functioning at it’s optimum, the surges can cause an overload on an already stressed Liver.

From an emotional point of view, the Liver is associated with the emotion of anger.  Anger stagnates or makes the Liver tight and stressed.  On the other hand, a Live that is not functioning optimally may induce feelings of anger.  In Traditional Chinese medicine, the organs function in relationship.  When on organ is unbalanced, others are compromised as a result.  The Liver is the mother of the Heart in this relationship and is the controller of the Spleen.  If one has an imbalance of the Liver, the secondary effects of the Heart could result in sleep disturbances and emotional upheaval.  The impact on the Spleen would present problems in digestion and general distribution of qi and blood.

So, what if you are one of those people whose Liver perhaps was not well attended to over the months of winter-to much fatty foods, alcohol or festering emotions.  These are all considered toxins to the Liver.  One can address the problem in two ways.  You may consider a cleanse to return the Liver to a better state of health and you also will want to adjust the quality and quantity of your food intake to better suit the Liver.

With regards to food, the emphasis in Spring should be on foods that are sweet and pungent, qualities that emphasize the yang and expanding nature of the season.  Add some basil, fennel, rosemary, dill, bay leaf or thyme to your cooking to meet these requirements.  Young beets and sweet tender carrots provide a nourishing sweet flavor.

You want to maintain all the goodness of the food being prepared so in the month of Spring particularly food is cooked for a shorter period of time at higher temperatures. Garnish your table with the new growth of fresh young greens including dandelion greens (make sure they aren’t sprayed), sprouts, and complex carbohydrates including grains, legumes and seeds.

If you want to do a cleanse, the simplest way is with appropriate foods.  Mung beans and their sprouts, celery, seaweeds, lettuce, cucumber, tofu, millet, mushrooms and radish all help to reduce the toxicity of the Liver.  Radish also removes deposits and stones from the gallbladder.  If a deeper and more thorough cleanse is needed consider homeopathics such as Chelidonium, Lycopodium, or an Unda combination which your Naturopathic Doctor could prepare for you.  Most importantly, do not embark on a regimen of detoxification without first consulting with your Naturopathic Doctor.  It has been my experience that many people do a cleanse for too long and with too much vigor which may result in more problems than you started with. You don’t know what’s lurking in the corners of that dusty room.  Acupuncture can also assist in the detoxification process and help to bring the organs to a more balanced state.