Bounding into Spring

After this very snowy winter many are itching to move into the warmer months. Like the sugar maple sap, we feel our juices flowing as the days lengthen and the sunshine grows stronger. In the Chinese calendar, Spring actually begins at the time of our ground hog day. Although that change may be more noticeable outdoors in a southern latitude, our internal energy starts to shift then. By March, it can be surging, even though we’re still being plastered with snow. This can be a problem! Certainly wild cabin fever reliever parties can dispel a lot of pent up energy, but not always with the desired affect on our poor livers! Which brings me to the phase, or element, associated with springtime, which is wood and its organ the liver.
The Chinese character for wood depicts a sprout and connotes the unstoppable force of growing things. Picture dandelions pushing up between the cracks in a concrete sidewalk.
In energetic terms, the liver is seen as responsible for smooth flow of energy and circulation throughout the body. Unfortunately it also is the place where dammed up emotions tend to lodge. The backlog in the liver [imagine a stream with a tree fallen across and debris piling up] can create excess heat. So the bitter, cooling roots such as dandelion, yellow dock, and burdock are great spring tonics, as are the ever present dandelion greens. Our systems crave greens now more than ever! Roots help keep us grounded in the exhilaration of spring as we balance our excitement with pacing to keep us healthy through out the summer.
The flavor associated with the liver is sour, which astringes and tightens. The naturally fermented pickles, saurkrauts and kim chi the Good Tern Market carries are great ways to stimulate digestion. However, take care with too much sour [vinegary things, citrus, sour fruits] if your muscles and tendons tend to be tight and or stiff, especially after an injury, as it can exacerbate minor problems . Abi is happy to answer questions about Chinese dietary methods and herbs. Contact her at or 594-4766.