Greetings from the Rainforest!
Spring is here, the season of the Wood Element and the Liver & Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine’s 5 Element System. If we are to align ourselves and our bodies with the cycles of nature, it is helpful to know what foods are best to eat for each season and which organ system is most activated during that time of year. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the five elements are Fire, Earth, Air (or metal), Water and Wood. The energy of Wood is a growing and up-rising energy, one found in sprouts, greens and young plants. In Spring, we feel our bodies become new again; it’s a natural time to clear away the old and bring on the new, and to breathe fresh air again . It’s a time for detoxing and eating antioxidant foods such as greens, seeds and sprouts.
As spring approaches, the Liver and gall bladder become prominent organs. The liver is the largest organ in the body, weighing over 3 lbs, and lives under the right rib cage. It helps in digestion and metabolizing carbs, fats and proteins and helps keep blood sugar levels stable. It helps detoxify the body, filtering toxins from the blood, and samples everything we put into the body. It brings and stores nourishment for the entire body. The liver makes bile which aids in digestion, and stores this bile in the gall bladder to be used to help the intestines break down fats and absorb essential fatty acids. The liver is associated with the emotion of anger, and when we are out of balance in that organ system we might experience bouts of rage, be easily irritated, resentful or depressed.
In Springtime, we can nourish the liver and detox the liver to help it do its job. Just these simple changes and additions to your diet can help:
1) Eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as crisp, raw green veggies and sprouts, seeds, nuts and fruits. Artichokes help cleanse the liver, but leave out the butter. Try plain yogurt & lemon instead. Dandelion leaves added to salads, and a tea of the dried root (1 tspn per cup, simmered for 20 minutes) is cleansing for the liver and kidneys. Consider a whole body cleanse at this time of year. (See AmaTierra’s Detox Retreats here)
2) Avoid fatty and fried foods and sugar, and minimize intake of red meat. Drink vegetable juices and smoothies, and wheatgrass juice.
3) Don’t overeat; eat just what you need and chew your food well.
4) For Liver Detoxing, Drink warm water with 1/2 lemon squeezed in, every morning. Liver loves the sour flavor. Peppermint tea can also help with digestion and is cooling as we get into warmer weather.
5) Keep your bowels moving with ground flax seed in your smoothies or try Triphala tablets or Cascara Sagrada at night.
6) Take care not to be exposed to too much wind at this time of year–it can bring on allergies and weaken immunity.
7) Add Turmeric powder to shakes, soups, or make a golden milk using coconut milk, honey and turmeric. Turmeric helps the liver detox the blood, helps digestion and also cuts through fats. (We grow Turmeric on our farm here at AmaTierra. Delicious and earthy!)
8) Take a supplement of milk thistle seed, in capsules. My personal favorites are Rainbow Light’s Milk Thistle Plus or Natrol’s Milk Thistle Advantage.
9) To learn more about what kind of detox is good for YOUR body, please see this article.
Jill Ruttenberg is a professional nutritionist, certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and clinical herbalist registered with the American Herbalist Guild. She is also an experienced massage therapist, energy healer and Hatha yoga instructor. The Wellness Center at AmaTierra is Jill’s living dream, the fruition of decades of training, practice and experience in natural medicine and the healing arts. To reach Jill, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Ruttenberg, RH, Co-Owner & Wellness Director of AmaTierra Retreat & Wellness Center in Costa Rica, is a professional nutritionist, certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and clinical herbalist registered with the American Herbalist Guild. She is also an experienced massage therapist, energy healer and Hatha yoga instructor. The Wellness Center at AmaTierra is Jill’s living dream, the fruition of decades of training, practice and experience in natural medicine and the healing arts.