Spring to life and take care of your liver

It is definitely starting to feel more like spring.  The long evenings, brighter and warmer days, seeds sprouting, buds on trees, flowers bloom, reflecting the upward and expansive ‘yang’ energy of spring.  We just have to look at plants like the willow which shoot upwards, bursting with energy after the restful season of winter.  There is a sense of new beginnings, creativity, growth and renewal of body, mind and spirit.

In Chinese medicine the season of spring is associated with the liver and gallbladder, the colour of green, a sour taste, the emotion of anger and a shouting sound.  We naturally eat less or even fast to cleanse the body of the heavier foods of winter.  Just like we spring clean our homes, it is a time to spring clean the body as well.

When the organs are in harmony/balance, there is no stress or tension.

‘People with vital livers are calm; they also have unerring judgment and can be naturally effective as leaders and decision-makers.’

(Pitchford, 2002)

When out of balance you may experience menstrual problems, infertility, hormonal imbalances, pre-menstrual symptoms, breast tenderness, migraines/headaches, poor circulation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea after eating, constipation, eye problems and body aches.  You may feel stressed, irritable and tense with a tendency to lose it at the traffic or small things.  You may suffer with bouts of depression and mood swings.  If your sleep is disturbed you tend to waken between 11pm and 3am when the gallbladder and liver are most active.

What can you do to show your Liver some love?

  • Have your last meal before 7.00pm: Making sure to have your last meal a few hours before bed supports your body’s ability to cleanse and repair at night and prevent stagnation.  A healthy liver supports a healthy digestive system.
  • Eat less: Leaving the table when you are 80% full is the key.  The liver and gallbladder don’t like overeating as it slows them down.
  • Eat Wholegrains: Barley, brown rice, job’s tear, millet, quinoa, spelt, rye and oats are all beneficial to your liver and gallbladder.
  • Plenty of Fruit & Vegetables: Apricots, beetroot, blueberries, carrots, celery, garlic, Granny Smith apples, lemons, mushrooms, peas, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, sprouts are all in season this time of year.
  • Eat Your Greens: As green is the colour of spring all fresh, leafy greens are beneficial.  Asparagus, cabbage, dandelion leaves, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustard greens, pak choi, rocket, watercress are all good.
  • Taste sour: Sour foods help release stagnation in the liver and gallbladder.  Try to add sour foods into your diet 3-4 times a week.  Some examples include Granny Smith apples, brown rice, lemon, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar.
  • Enjoy Dandelion and Milk thistle tea: Both help to protect and nourish the liver, encouraging it to cleanse itself of any toxins.  Dandelion is a diuretic and an excellent tonic for your blood, digestion and skin.
  • Get active: In Chinese medicine, the liver controls your tendons and is in charge of the smooth flow of vital energy, Qi, and storing your blood.  When you are resting, it stores the blood and once you’re moving it releases it to the tendons, supporting their health and flexibility.  Movement is key to getting the energy of the liver moving. Yoga, tai chi, walking and dancing are all great exercises to do for your liver.
  • Get to know your emotions: Anger, unresolved emotions and stress are all connected to the liver and have a significant effect on its function. Get to know yourself and your emotions and let go of any negative feelings or hurt from your past.  It is beneficial to practice compassion to yourself and others and live mindfully.

And of course….have some acupuncture and herbs.

Happy Spring,


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