I love spring! I find spring to be a new beginning – the time of year to “rise early with the sun” and take a brisk walk. This reflects the active nature of spring. Although we can’t see it, much is going on underneath us. The earth is warming up, and new life is being formed. I am looking forward to seeing plant life pushing upwards after the slumber of winter. This awakening can be symbolic of our own unlimited potential for healing. The sight of the green color of tender young plants seems to nourish my soul through my eyes, so it seems that my appetite for food decreases and my body can begin the natural process of cleansing itself. It also seems that when I begin to cleanse, not only do I get rid of food residues, but excessive desires and emotions such as dissatisfaction, impatience, and anger seem to be washed from me, much as if I was taking a shower in the gentle spring rain. It’s as if there is a veil of dust that is removed from my eyes and mind, and my vision becomes clearer. Things are seen in new ways. I know this all seems very poetic, but maybe that’s part of the beauty of the spring time.
This is a time to give attention to becoming aware of yourself and how you express yourself.
This is also the season to attend to your liver and gall bladder. Your liver has many vital functions, including: regulating your emotions, regulating your hormones, orchestrating digestion, helping with the absorption of nutrients, controlling your muscles and tendons, making healthy blood, and storing your blood. The liver is known as the master organ of detoxification. It helps your body cleanse itself of all toxins. The ancient Chinese called the liver “the general of the body.”
In the spring, we seem to be drawn to begin to naturally eat less – maybe even to do a fast – to cleanse our body of the fats and heavy foods of the winter season and it’s festivities. Spring liver cleansing is one of the oldest known health practices. As far back as 400 B.C., when the Greek culture was flourishing, ancient medical textbooks speak of the practice.
Salty foods, such as soy sauce or miso, all have a strong component that takes away our energy, so they are best limited during the springtime. The diet at this time of year should be the lightest of the year, and should contain foods which emphasize the more expansive qualities of spring –
- Young plants – radicchio, lettuce, summer squash, cucumbers, mushrooms, and rhubarb
- Fresh greens – endive, collard, kale, bok choy, watercress and dandelion greens
- Herbs – nettles, dandelion root, burdock root, goji berries, and milk thistle, Chinese angelica
- All berries – strawberries, mulberries, elderberries, gooseberries
- Sprouts – mung beans, sunflower seeds
- Immature wheat or other cereal grasses – barley grass, wheat grass
Farmer’s markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) will be starting up soon, so take advantage. If you have one around you, sign up for a CSA. The weekly packages they deliver are wonderful. If you have U-Pick lots around you, go on a weekend morning and pick things like strawberries.
Sweet and pungent-flavored foods are recommended as the means of creating your own personal spring. For this to happen, you can use these foods:
- A little concentrated sweetener with pungent herbs, such as honey/mint tea.
- The pungent cooking herbs – basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf – are the ones that you will want to use now.
- Most of the complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes, and seeds have a primarily sweet flavor which increases with sprouting.
- Young beets, carrots, and other sweet starchy vegetables, thinned from the spring garden, provide a refreshing sweet flavor.
- This is also a good time to rid the body of parasites. A traditional way to do this is a week-long daily dose of raw onions and garlic. Of course, you might rid your house of everybody else, too, when you do this. If you have access to Asian foods, mochi (pounded sweet rice) with the herb mugwort, will also rid your body of parasites.
Food preparation becomes simpler in the spring. Raw and sprouted foods can be emphasized. In Ayurveda, these foods are termed vattic, meaning “wind-like.” According to Ayurvedic thought, they encourage quickness, rapid movement, and outward activity in general. They are also cleansing and cooling.
Spring, the first season of the year, represents youth. Raw foods help bring about this renewal, especially as you consume young plant life and sprouts.
Raw food consumption should increase when you have signs of heat, in warmer climates, and during times of greater physical activity. Most people do well taking at least a little raw food daily, with greater amounts in their spring and summer diets. Spring is the best time to increase juicing in your daily practice. Include some ginger in your juice to help with digestion and a little extra heat until the warmth of summer takes over.
Most people living in temperate climates, including most of the United States and Europe, cook the majority of their food. If you do cook your food, in the spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time, but at higher temperatures; in this way the food is not as thoroughly cooked, especially the inner part. If oil is used in spring cooking, a quick high-temperature saute method is appropriate. When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal.
Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. This is the season you want to adopt new patterns of health to give you inspiration as you create a new you. If you would be interested in learning more about this, as well as participating in a cleansing fast program, contact me at email@example.com to sign up. I am also available to answer any other questions you might have about how to help your body in its healing journey.