Spring is almost here, and as nature reawakens around us, we can take steps to stay healthy and happy. Take advantage of the mild weather by following these four tips from Chinese masters that will cleanse your body and rejuvenate your health.
According to Chinese medicine, the liver and the gall bladder are most active during the spring. The liver’s natural action is to cleanse and detoxify the body. You can help your body cleanse itself by engaging in practices that strengthen the liver, which will strengthen you against spring illnesses.
1. Rise early and engage in gentle movements
The Yellow Emperor recommends that you wake early and go to bed when night comes. The liver is sensitive to excessive wind and chill, so dress warmly for the cold mornings and evenings of spring. Start each day with a sense of inner peace by getting up a little earlier and stretching, meditating, reading something inspirational, or even sipping a cup of tea.
Be sure you exercise to keep the blood circulating and to release physical tension. Gentle movements promote a smooth flow of energy and are always preferable to strenuous workouts that cause jarring, jagged energy patterns. Wear loose clothing and take long walks, enjoying the fresh spring air.
2. Express emotions healthfully
The second piece of advice is that your mental and physical activities be like the weather–active and alive, open and unsuppressed.
Many people store emotions in the body instead of releasing them via a healthy outlet and this is detrimental to the liver and other organ systems. Anger is an emotion that can be very damaging if not let go of. Chinese medicine looks at anger as a tremendous force that can be transformed into something positive–for instance, anger can give you the energy to propel you forward and the strength to make changes.
Try this exercise to release tension and turn resentments into something positive:
Interlock your fingers in the opposite direction than they usually are: Place the backs of your hands together, interlace the fingers, and raise your hands to chest level with palms facing down, elbows straight out.
1. Inhale first, and as you begin to exhale, pull your interlocked hands down until your arms are totally straight and your hands are pointing down, near the lower abdomen.
2. During each exhalation, blow your anger out through your breath.
Repeat three times twice a day, or immediately after an angry episode. The more anger you are holding onto, the harder it is to straighten your arms with hands firmly interlocked. As you repeat this exercise, your arms will begin to extend more fully.
3. Give your liver an herbal boost
Ancient Taoist Masters believed the body could be totally cleansed and purified by nourishing and strengthening the liver system. Some herbs that can give the liver an added boost include the following.
• Schisandra berry has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to protect the liver and soothe emotional anxiety.
• Dandelion cleanses the liver and helps release built-up anger. Drink as a tea or take in capsules.
• White peony root is a Chinese herb often used to soothe the liver and balance the mood.
• Rose petal tea is thought to calm the emotions and help eliminate toxins by cleansing the liver and gall bladder; simply add the petals to tea or look for rose tea bags.
For a seasonal lift, try Spring Tea, the awakening formula, which supports higher energy and tonifies the liver and gall bladder.
4. Detoxify your liver with green food
The Chinese diet for spring is designed to “clean house” and green is the color that corresponds to the liver. In the spring, choose green herbs and foods that detoxify and improve the circulation of the liver: Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, barley grass, seaweed–anything with chlorophyll, which purifies and cleanses the liver. Also, you can nourish your liver with sour flavors like lemon and vinegar, which have an astringent effect.
A detoxifying soup is a great multi-tasking food for this spring. Chinese medicine uses healing soups to tonify and strengthen the organ systems of your body. This recipe treats your body to an internal cleanse by supporting the liver in detoxification, increasing circulation, and replenishing your body with essential minerals.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on The Ricki Lake Show, Dr. Oz, and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected] To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter visit www.taoofwellness.com.