As we move into season Spring a new organ becomes the topic of our discussions and new color foods become more predominant in our kitchen. The organ is Liver and the foods that have stimulating, nurturing and cleansing effect on the Liver are green color foods.
Whenever air and water move in nature the environment is healthy. When the river flows continuously and uninterruptedly its water is fresh and safe to drink. When wind blows through our city the air is cleansed. The same pertains to our body – whenever blood and Qi move continually and uninterruptedly the body is balanced, the mood is good, the emotions are harmonious.
In Chinese medicine the Liver is responsible for the proper movement of Qi in the body. As Qi and blood are interconnected a proper movement of Qi will ensure ceasless movement of blood. Vice versa if the Qi ceases to move the blood will eventually stagnate as well. On a physical level Qi stagnation manifests in distention, while blood stagnation manifests in pain. On a mental level Qi stagnation manifests in mood changes, lack of patience and unstable behavior. Liver Qi stagnation also brings about anger (with all its varieties) as anger is the emotion that manifests with an unbalanced Liver. Long term suppressed anger will eventually transform into depression. Thus anger and depression are also signs of Liver Qi stagnation. A typical sign of Liver Qi stagnation in women is PMS. If the Qi stagnation is chronic the blood will stagnate too leading to painful menstruation (in TCM the Liver governs the women’s cycle).
The time during which the Liver is most active is spring. Thus if there is Liver disharmony it will be during spring season when it will manifest the most. People with unbalanced/stagnated livers will experience spring depression or feel more irritable than usual. They may also feel tired and/or have variety of digestive issues (when the Liver stagnates it overacts the Spleen causing digestive problems and lack of energy). The best thing we could do to help ourselves in this situation is to cater to the Liver with moving/anti-stagnant and cleansing foods and herbs which will break the stagnation and clear heavy emotions. We could do that also if we do not experience the above symptoms – simply to cleanse our body after the rather fatty winter diet making sure the Qi of the Liver flows uninterruptedly. So the next couple of months we will use green color, pungent and anti-stagnant foods to prepare our meals. As Qi and blood are interconnected a blood deficient person will especially be prone to Liver Qi stagnation (not enough blood to move the Qi). Thus we will also include blood tonifying foods and herbs during spring season. Stay tuned!