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Thursday September 29th 2022

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Nourish Your Liver

By NIKKI FLECK

Green garden harvest ready to support the liver (photo by Nikki Fleck)


    As we transition towards spring, you may have noticed your body waking earlier, a few more birds chirping, your brain daydreaming of beautifully bold colored vegetables from the farmers market…subtle energies awakening again. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Perspective spring is related to the liver, or wood element. This Five Element perspective provides us with a special lens to view the seasons. This lens provides insight and wisdom on how to care for our bodies and brains throughout the ever shifting seasons. Our body’s requirements in August are quite different from January for example.
    In March we enter liver season which is all about waking up, expanding, cleansing, visioning the future and flowing freely. It relates to the color green and being confident and clear within the choices we make while being flexible as plans often shift.
    The liver has many responsibilities from both a western medical and eastern medicine perspective. In TCM the liver plays an important role in emotional health, regulating menstruation, supporting the eyes, tendons, hair and nails. The health of the liver ensures all of the other organs are working properly and assists in protecting us against infections like the common cold. When the liver is strong and functioning properly we are much better equipped at receiving what comes our way. It’s about learning how to stay soft, open, present, even within physical pain or emotional discomfort.

Signs that the liver may be stuck or not functioning optimally (in TCM)  include: irritability, depression, menstrual irregularities and mood swings. Liver disharmony may also cause sluggishness, swollen eyes or throat, headaches, chronic stiffness and difficulty making decisions. 

During liver season our bodies appreciate a higher ratio of plant based foods, herbs and sour foods like pickles, lemons, sourdough bread and leeks. The season asks us to keep things moving if able. Practices like dancing, hiking, playing with your kiddos and yard work are welcomed. It’s best to wrap up any dinner or snacking a couple hours before bed and to avoid overeating foods that stress the liver like caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Finding outlets to nourish emotional health is also wise. Our emotions impact every aspect of us, even our organs. Journaling, seeking out counseling, stretching (especially twists), regular acupuncture and practicing deep breathing all support our liver health (which supports our emotional health)!

Nikki Fleck is a Licensed Acupuncturist at Perennial Acupuncture and Companion Medicine

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