In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy, each season of the year expresses the archetype of one of the 5 elements (or 5 phases). The seasonal cycle is a perpetual cycle of new growth, expansion and upward/outward movement, culmination and maturity, then back to decay/recycling of matter and energy, contraction and downward/inward movement.
The energy of springtime is one of new beginnings, fresh energy, the birthing of the new, and a yang energy of expansion and upward/outward growth. After the dormant, yin state of winter, where energy is conserved and protected during the cold and stillness, the warmth and movement of spring begins the stirrings of the life force within us. Our bodily systems wake up slowly at first, building energy and momentum as the days become longer, brighter, and warmer.
Spring is connected to the elemental energy of wood, which symbolizes the fast growing living green plants we see all around us this season. As we observe their growth, we see vigor, freshness, and quick but steady and consistent growth. Just as the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, the patterns we witness in the natural world during each season of the year are also occurring inside ourselves!
The elemental wood energy manifests in our bodies, minds and emotions as new inspiration and movement. If our body and mind are in balance, this will show up as a steady outward growth energy, where our life activities aligned with our life purpose pick up speed, and we begin to pursue the goals and fulfill the plans that we deeply reflected upon during the yin time of winter. Our energy fields expand, and our Shen (the light of our spirit) begins to reach out and touch others with the unique blessings we are here to offer this world.
The wood energy does not always flow so smoothly. If we are not in harmony with one or more aspects of our lives, if we don’t like our work, our relationships are tumultuous, our health is out of balance in some way, or we have stuck or unresolved emotions, the inevitable fast growth of spring will hit energetic walls inside of us, and we may have a very difficult time! Most everyone experiences energetic blocks within themselves at one time or another, and they can become a lot more obvious in the spring, because the wood energy amplifies any blockage within us.
The main organ in our body that’s responsible for the smooth flow of energy is the liver. This also means that stagnation, blockages and stuck emotions are associated with the liver system. If the liver Qi is not flowing smoothly, this commonly manifests as feelings of anger (also stress and frustration), which is a buildup of energy that is trying to push through a blockage, sometimes very forcefully!
The liver is responsible for over 500 different functions in the body, regulates the energy of the entire body, and is responsible for deactivating toxins and waste products so they won’t harm you. Much like branches of a tree, the liver's nature is to move upward and outward. The liver serves over 500 different functions in the body and regulates the energy of the entire body. Cultivating liver health is vitally essential to your health, supporting the other 4 organ systems.
Although spring is associated with the liver, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the liver functions optimally in the spring – it means that it’s most affected by the energy of spring. This also means that if we want to work on the liver, and the associated emotion of anger, spring is the best time to do it! It’s the best time to work on cleansing and strengthening the liver, and also to consciously observe our own relationship with anger and what triggers it for us personally, which can tell us a lot about the areas of our life that could use improvement. If we tend to get angry while working, maybe something about our job needs to be changed. If we are quick to feel angry towards certain people in our life, this points toward the need to work on those specific relationships. If we generally have a “hot temper” and are quick to anger even over little things, this can point towards an imbalance within the body, and specifically the liver system.
The climate attribute associated with spring is wind, and windy conditions can irritate the liver. Hayfever and other allergies are considered a liver condition, which most often flares up in the spring. In TCM, one of the most common causes of allergies is what is referred to as “the liver attacking the lungs”. This is when an already compromised liver is irritated by elements like excessive wind, which can cause the naturally downward moving lung Qi to move upward instead, leading to hayfever symptoms like sneezing, and runny and itchy noses. If the liver Qi is not flowing smoothly, conditions like hayfever are much more likely to occur.
Supporting the liver with spring cleansing
One of the best ways to support and strengthen the liver is to focus on cleansing the body in the spring. A healthy, appropriately designed cleanse will give the liver a rest, allowing it to regenerate and move back into balance with the rest of the body. Cleansing will help the liver eliminate toxins, buildup and stagnation, and function more smoothly and efficiently.
The sour flavor, in TCM, is associated with spring, and with the liver. Sour foods and green foods are some of the best liver cleansing substances! Lemons and apples contain citric and malic acids, which cleanse the liver and gallbladder by breaking up and dissolving gallstones, as well as binding to and deactivating toxic metals that have accumulated in the liver. Sour foods in general increase saliva production, which has the effect of stimulating gastric juices in the stomach and bile in the liver, improving digestion and elimination, which in itself has a natural cleansing effect.
Schizandra is a tonic super fruit that’s highly regarded in Chinese herbalism, which has a potent sour flavor (as well as the other four flavors!). It’s one of the few substances that supports both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification, so is considered to be one of the number one herbs for liver support!
Phase 1 liver detoxification is when a substance goes into the liver and triggers a toxin to be removed from the liver and released into the bloodstream. This is an essential first step, but you don’t want to stop there – it can create more problems than it solves, as that toxin (now bioactive and in your bloodstream) then may wreak havoc on your whole body! You want a substance that will also safely remove the toxin from your body, by escorting it from your bloodstream and through your kidneys, bladder or colon to be excreted forever. This is called phase 2 of liver detoxification. Therefore, schizandra is a safe way to gently and powerfully cleanse your liver of toxic buildup.
The other food category that’s extremely beneficial during the spring is green foods. This includes leafy green vegetables, fresh green sprouts, young grasses like wheatgrass, barley grass and bamboo, as well as algae (like spirulina) and seaweeds, all of which are rich sources of cleansing and nutritive chlorophyll and essential minerals. The fast, vigorous growth of fresh green foods is a perfect match to the liver’s optimal pattern, and these foods provide the electrolyte mineral salts needed to deeply nourish and fuel this organ system.
A good basic cleanse approach for the spring would be to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and other green foods like algae and grass powders, drink plenty of pure water with fresh squeezed lemon juice, eat apples, and reduce the amount of heavy and oily foods in your daily diet, focusing on lighter fare so your liver can rest from constant bile production. From this kind of solid foundation, you can add targeted liver herbs and supplements, like schizandra, concentrated green foods, and herbal formulations that are specifically focused on optimizing the health of the liver.
Exercise is also important for creating healthy flow in our bodies and minds during this time. It doesn’t even have to be vigorous, and even short walks taken frequently, as well as some stretching or yoga, can make us feel amazing!
We recommend the following Shen Blossom products to amplify the effectiveness of your spring cleansing approach:
Green MSM Crystals
These products are specialized formulas, with the fresh living essence of the plants optimally preserved through our traditional, high quality preparation methods. Green Elements contains all the green foods you will want to support your liver and body, all in one formula! The bamboo product is a concentrated dose of cleansing and revitalizing chlorophyll from both bamboo and young barley greens. Our Green MSM is completely unique on the market as a truly small batch produced MSM. MSM is an important concentrated form of sulfur that is essential to liver health.
The final element that can really bring together a springtime cleanse is the Wood Formula in our Elements Series! This is a targeted herbal formulation that’s specifically designed to support the liver and gallbladder, harmonizing and smoothing out the liver’s energy. It is designed to improve the flexibility and adaptability of our bodies and minds, which is the natural energy of spring – fast, flexible growth that is not rigid, allowing for quick movement and adaptability to the ever changing conditions of life! It is a daily tonic designed to be taken consistently (especially throughout spring), with compounding benefits the more often you take it.
This formula supports detoxification, emotional balance and regulation, digestion, metabolism, flexibility, adaptability, and overall liver support.
If you feel called to go deeper into targeted cleansing of all bodily systems, you may also enjoy our cleansing focused article:
Tips For Healthy Cleansing & Detoxification
We wish you a happy and inspiring spring, and are here to support your healthiest self!