Spring has Started to Sprout
Spring is certainly in the air now that it is June. I love this time of year. The smell of the air is clean and fresh, especially after a Spring rain. The newly sprouted vegetation is so vibrantly green.
In Spring, the crocus, tulips, daffodils and irises push up from the soil and begin to show their beauty. These are reminders that nature has perfect timing and knows exactly when to emerge. These blooming flowers can teach us how to stay healthy this Spring.
Spring is the season of growth and renewal!
Just as flowers push up through the dark and cold soil in the spring, it is also a time for us to push through negative emotions and unhealthy habits that are not serving us. Spring is a perfect time to work on emotional progress and set new plans that will help with future growth. Learning new things about ourselves and our mistakes allows us to choose a new path. It is also the season of renewal. Renewal of needs, wants, desires and the regeneration of hopeful new beginnings.
Remember, we discovered in the winter newsletter that each season has unique characteristics and qualities that give us useful information on remaining healthy. The previous season (in this case winter) helps us enact lifestyle and dietary changes to prepare for Spring. The philosophy of Chinese Medicine is to try to mimic in our lifestyle the changes in our environment as the seasons transition.
Chinese Medicine links the Spring season to these qualities:
ORGAN: LIVER/ GALL BLADDER
SENSE ORGANS: EYES
VIRTUES: FLEXIBILITY, VISION, PLANNING
The long-awaited Spring marks the change from the dark, cold, stillness of winter to a season of movement, new growth, an increase in light and warmer weather. With a few subtle changes in lifestyle and diet, we can support this transition and help manage existing health imbalances that may surface in the Spring.
Spring in Chinese Medicine is the time of the Liver organ. The Liver’s function is to smooth the flow of energy and blood throughout the body. The Liver stores the blood when we are resting and releases blood to the body in times of activity. The Liver also helps muscles and tendons stay flexible and maintain good blood flow. If our bodies have low blood volume, the Liver cannot supply the organs with the nourishment that is needed. Then weakness and muscle spasms in the arms and legs can occur. A stagnant Liver can also affect the blood flow to digestive organs and the function of the digestion itself. The Liver is the main organ that detoxifies the entire body. The Liver keeps us healthy by ridding the body of things that are not useful.
Is your Liver stressed? Maybe you overindulged on rich foods this winter. Maybe you have been stagnating on the couch watching too many Netflix shows. Maybe you have been staying up late working. You are not alone. I too am guilty of doing these things. When our Livers are overtaxed, they cannot do their jobs and we can easily become irritable or angry. When we carry this irritability or repressed anger, we can react harshly or judge others inappropriately. When I notice I am starting to overreact or feel irritable. I find it helpful to repeat a mantra. I find the following mantras to be calming, “I am doing the best I can right now” or “I give myself permission to let go of this that is not serving me” and “With every breath, I feel myself relaxing”. When I try to feel-into a mantra it helps me to take the anger down a notch. Sometimes placing your hand on your heart and breathing in while stating the mantra and then as you breathe out visualizing all the tension melting away from your body. I use these mantras to foster empathy for myself.
Finding healthy ways to express and manage emotions this spring will help support the Liver’s function and make for a smooth transition into the spring season. More than other times of year, in the Springtime, we need to express how we feel to avoid feeling angry and resentful. When we do feel angry, we can channel this anger in a productive way. Anger can be the catalyst we need to create change in the things that are not serving us and be the motivator to move us forward.
The Wood/Liver energy is supported by finding a clear vision for the future. Meditating and walking in the grass can help you to define both short- and long-term goals. Walking barefoot has a particularly grounding effect on the nervous system. Try a meditation on compassion. Self-empathy and letting-go of resentment is a great way to soothe the Liver function. If you are like me, when the weather starts to warm up, I feel more alive and connected to the environment. I feel more creative and energized to start new projects or work towards a goal.
Another thing that I have found useful is journaling. At first, I was reluctant to use a journal as a tool to release emotions. I was worried that someone would read it and judge me. I have realized that pent-up anger is influencing my health and relationships. The benefits I experience through journaling outweighs any potential embarrassment or judgment. I find that writing down exactly how I feel allows the negative emotions to flow out of me instead of stagnating. Try getting a fun new journal and see if journaling helps you.
Finally, physical exercise is a great way to deflate irritability and anger. I often release my frustrations on the yoga mat. Yoga and aerobic exercise helps us to release endorphins and to divert our attention to something else. This diversion allows us to gain a broader perspective.
I am sure you have heard of these things and possibly even tried them before. With each new Spring, there is the opportunity to start fresh, try again and find new success.
Liver stagnation is one of the most common Chinese Medical diagnoses that I treat in my clinic, particularly in the Springtime.
Here are some of the common symptoms of Liver dysfunction:
Now that we know that unexpressed emotions, pent up anger, overeating, staying up too late and being overly stressed are ways that the Liver can be taxed, let’s look at some additional things that we can try this Spring:
1. Acupuncture Treatment: Acupuncture stimulates the function of the Liver, clears out the stagnation of winter’s rich food and smooths the flow of blood.
2. Dandelion Tea: I have been reunited with the dandelion. First, as children, we run around collecting and blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. Then we are told that dandelions are weeds to get rid of. Now, as an herbalist, I am learning that the dandelion was brought to America as a prized plant for food and medicine.
Did you know that all the parts of the dandelion are edible?
The leaves are great in salads.
The roots make delicious tea.
The blossoms can be made into a yummy jelly
Always make sure your dandelions are clean and free from pesticides before ingestion!
Dandelion leaves and roots have cleansing and detoxifying qualities that support Liver health by detoxifying chemicals from our food and the pollution in the air. Dandelion tea also helps cool and cleanse the blood. If you can’t find a clean source for dandelion roots you can buy the tea at your local health food store. Try making dandelion root tea this spring!
3. Diet: As winter ends, we tend to feel heavy, lethargic and sluggish from the rich foods that were needed to sustain us through the cold months. Spring is a good time to start to move away from rich, fatty and baked foods. This is the time of year to start eating more vegetables like lettuce, kale, collard greens, peas, asparagus and sprouts. It is time to move away from baking and into steaming, sautéing or juicing food.
4. Sprouts: Try growing your own sprouts in a mason jar! Now that the flowers have sprung and new growth is all around us, we can invite in a healthy Spring by eating sprouts. Maybe you are thinking what exactly are sprouts? Aren’t they those green stringy things that are sometimes found on a fancy sandwich? Well yes, it includes those and other kinds of sprouted seeds. Sprouts are simply very young plants that are harvested just a few days after they germinate.
Sprouts generally contain high levels of beneficial nutrients like folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. Sprouts are also low in calories but high in protein. In fact, they have higher amounts of nutrients than fully-grown versions of the same plants. Sprouts can improve overall digestion and feed the good bacteria in the digestive tract. Sprouts also contain substances that help your Liver with the detoxification process. In the Spring, it is important to include foods that strengthen and cleanse the Liver and sprouts are a great choice to do this.
I think there is something unique that happens when you grow food for yourself. It can change the way you look at food. Not to be too metaphorical, but seeing the seeds spout can be beneficial to your health this Spring. It can inspire you to grow and change in positive ways.
Here’s how to grow your own sprouts in a mason jar:
I like to make a sandwich with humus, avocado, tomatoes and my sprouts for a healthy delicious lunch. Give growing sprouts in a mason jar a try this spring it is a fun easy project that will help your liver this spring.
5. Dry Brushing: A invigorating way to wake up on a Spring morning. Perhaps you have seen the body brushes at your local natural foods store. Are you intimidated by not knowing what to do with them or why you would even benefit from using those fancy spa brushes? Well, let me tell you…they are great for helping the Liver detoxify and for blood circulation.
Dry brushing is not as strange as it may seem. It is simply using a medium-stiff brush to brush away toxins. Dry brushing your skin is one easy way to slough off winter’s dead dry skin, increase blood flow and stimulate lymph drainage. The lymphatic system consists of nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph fluid throughout the body. The system removes toxins, aiding the immune symptom, and helping the Liver to do its job of cleansing the body. Many of the lymph vessels run just under the skin. Using a dry brush helps the lymph fluid move and increase its flow so it can do its job better. It is invigorating, detoxifying and leaves us feeling energized.
Ok, now that we know the health benefit of dry brushing, how do we do it? I like to do my dry brushing right before I turn on the hot water for a shower in the morning. Start on your feet, then move up your legs with long stokes towards your torso. Repeat the strokes 3 times per area. Don’t forget the back of your legs. Then, start on your hands and arms, brushing towards your shoulders. Brush with a clockwise circle pattern on your abdomen. There is no wrong way to do this, as long as you are gentle and brush in a direction towards your heart. Dry brushing is an easy way to promote blood circulation and promote Liver detoxification. Give it a try this Spring and see what the benefits of dry brushing hold for you.
6. Nettle Tea: Nettles help blood circulation and are great for the Liver function. The nettle plant has been valued for centuries for its ability to nourish the blood. Nettle tea contains valuable antioxidants and many essential vitamins and minerals. Nettles are high in magnesium, iron, Vitamin B and beta carotene. Nettles are best known for their ability to relieve symptoms caused by spring allergies: itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; runny nose and nasal inflammation. Scientific studies show that nettles help allergic reactions by inhibiting the histamine response. Nettles also decreased inflammation and their iron content makes them great blood builders. Nettles also contain Vitamin C which aids in iron absorption. On the spiritual side, nettles help transition negative situations into one of more hope. For women, nettles help regulate the menstrual cycle, prevent excessive menstrual bleeding and treats/prevents menstrual cramps. For men, nettles can help with prostate health.
A Nettle tea can be made by pouring 1 cup of just-boiled water over 1-2 teaspoons of the herb. Steep for ten minutes and take 3 times a day. Honey can be added as a sweetener. Always make sure to steep the fresh leaves in hot water to deactivate the stinging hairs. Nettle leaves have fine hairs that contain irritants. If you do not know what to look for or do not want to forage for nettles the tea can also be found at your local health food store. If you have spring allergies nettle tea would be very helpful this season!
7. Sour Foods: Try to incorporate sour foods 3-4 times a week in your diet. The sour flavor helps release stagnation and detoxifies the Liver. Some examples of sour foods are sauerkraut, pickles, lemon, lime, green apple, sour cherry and grapefruit. These are all good choices that help to reduce the fatty foods that may have been stored in the body during the winter months. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water helps move the bile of the gallbladder too. In this way sour food helps aid in digestion. Sour foods are best consumed in small quantities too much can overstimulate the liver. Try sour food to break down the effects of rich, sugary, fatty food to help out your liver this spring.
8. Forest Bathing: I bet you are thinking, “what the heck is forest bathing and why would I do it”. Well, Shinrin-Yoku, Japanese for “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere”, is a simple and beneficial practice. Remember, Springtime in Chinese Medicine is the time of the Wood element and a leisurely walk in the forest is a perfect activity to try this spring. Forest bathing, as luxurious as it sounds, is easy, free and as simple as a walk in the nature. The goal of forest bathing is to notice your surroundings with all 5 senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and sound) during a short, leisurely walk. The point is not to exercise and work up a sweat but to relax and notice the beauty of the nature around you. Now why you would want to take time out of your busy schedule to try hippie-dippy forest bathing?
Here is a little guidance to help you with your first forest bath. Plan a 20min walk around your house, it can be at a local park, trail or just around the block. Look for an evergreen tree along your walk:
Forest bathing helps us to understand ourselves and our emotions better. It helps us turn off the electronics and connect with nature. Remember, the basic philosophy for health is our bodies are a reflection of the natural environment. Forest bathing is a great way to destress after a busy work day!
As you shake off the stagnation and emerge from the hibernation of winter please bring some of these ideas into your life. I hope this Spring finds you happy, nourished and healthy.
Please reach out with any questions.
Suzanne L. Stricker, LAc
My small business depends on referrals. If you have time to write a review on Google for Find Your Balance Acupuncture, I would be very grateful. Thank you!
I think fall is my favorite
Brrr, it is sure looking and feeling more like fall with the cold front and rain that has moved in. Fall is my favorite season and it’s associated with many fun-filled memories. I love the multicolored leaves that turn shades of warm red, orange and yellow. I love the nourishing comfort foods like soups and squash. I love the crisp coolness of the air and the way it makes me feel like a new season has arrived along with the hope of positive changes.
Autumn/Fall is the time when leaves change to beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, and then fall to the ground to decompose and create fertile soil for spring growth. Chinese Medicine gives us clues to our health through comparisons with the outside environment. These comparisons suggest lifestyle adjustments for optimum health during each season. We can keep these suggested adjustments in mind when making choices about the actives we engage in, the food we eat and the clothes we wear.
The autumnal equinox falls on Wednesday September 22 this year, marking the official end of summer and the beginning of fall. This is the time when the maximum yang (pronounced yong) “hot” energy of summer transitions to the opposite extreme, yin or the “cold” energy of winter. Autumn Equinox or Mabon marks the first day of the season of autumn. Day and night are of equal length making it a time of balance, equality and harmony. During this time of year you should take some time to reflect, give thanks for the blessings that you have received and make preparations for the coming winter months. This is the time when we start to move activities indoors and when we crave more comforting and rich foods. Winter is the time for storage (of your energy resources/nutrition) and in the fall we decide what should be stored and what we are ready to release, freeing up valuable space.
Chinese Medicine links each season to a number of characteristics. Fall has the following qualities:
Fall is governed by the metal element and has the qualities of precision, organization, setting limits and protecting boundaries.
The cooler temperatures and the dry winds of autumn can make the lungs sensitive, often resulting in symptoms such as a scratchy throat, a dry nose, dry skin, dry eyes, a dry cough and even symptoms of dryness in the digestive system such as constipation. We can balance the dryness of fall, protect the lungs and protect our digestion by eating foods that generate fluids and moisten the body. Examples include pears, apples, persimmons, figs, pumpkins, nuts and seeds. The meridian of the lungs are associated with clear thinking, good communication, openness to new ideas, a positive self-image and the ability to relax. The lungs take in fresh air to be used by the body and expel waste (exhaled carbon dioxide), the lungs let go of everything the body does not need. When the lungs are out of balance, we can feel sadness for long periods of time, we can have difficulty coping with change, we can feel alone and have a difficult time letting go of people, objects and experiences. Grief and discomfort can be associated with the end of summer. Some people are greatly impacted by the change to less light and warmth. I too occasionally experience a sense of loss after the first frost and opportunities to eat brunch outside and spending time in my patio garden dwindle.
In addition to eating the right foods for fall, remember to wear a scarf as the winds pick up this season. The nape of the neck is where wind can most easily enter the body and cause illness. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine that “wind is the cause of 1,000 diseases.” Chinese Medicine diagnose many ailments caused by this mechanism including colds, flus, headaches and sore throats.
Here are some additional things that will help you stay in tune with Fall, keep you healthy and prepare you for the next winter season:
1. Make Fire Cider
Fire cider is an herbal remedy developed by the renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in the late 1970s. Her original recipe includes equal parts horseradish, ginger, onion and garlic and a small amount of dried cayenne pepper. Spicy foods like garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish and mustard are beneficial to the lungs. This herbal folk remedy reduces inflammation, aids digestion and boosts the immune system. You can take fire cider when you feel a cold coming on or as a warming bitter-tonic for the digestion. Most people take one or two tablespoons of fire cider at a time, often diluted in water or tea. I recommend taking a shot of tonic every 3 to 4 hours when you feel a cold coming on. I also like to or use it as a vinaigrette for dressings a salad.
Layer the ginger, onion, garlic, horseradish and jalapeños into a quart-sized jar with the star anise and cinnamon stick. Add the apple cider vinegar, adding additional to cover the contents of the jar as necessary. Seal the jar and store it away from direct sunlight for at least 1 month and up to 6 weeks. Shake daily. Strain the vinegar, discarding the solids. Stir in the honey until fully dissolved. Store at room temperature up to 6 months or in the refrigerator for up to 18 months.
2. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
When I think of fall I think of pumpkins. I love everything pumpkin and the well-known pumpkin spice is the ideal thing to use in the fall. Many times in October, I throw a pumpkin carving party and have everyone save their seeds for roasting. Roasted pumpkin seeds are fun to make, and a yummy, healthy snack for the fall. There are many health benefits to eating pumpkins seeds. They have high levels of antioxidants and reduce inflammation. They are also one of the best food sources of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for optimal blood pressure levels, optimal blood sugar levels, heart health and bone health. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc. Zinc supports the immune system, skin health, fertility and one’s vision. Eating just one serving of pumpkin seeds (about 1oz) can supply up to 40% of the daily target for this essential nutrient. I like to roast them with a little oil and add cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Yum!
3. Write in a Journal
Journaling is a good way to get to know yourself better. When it was first recommended to me to start journaling, I was reluctant and worried someone would find my journal and read it. If this is a barrier for you too, try tearing up the pages after writing. This is also therapeutic and a symbolic separation from one’s emotions. Ripping up the paper helps me to remember to let go of negative thoughts, patterns and behaviors that no longer serve me. Fall is about boundary setting and communication. Try writing down a list of what you want to prioritize this season, what habits you wish to form and what you can let go of. This could mean establishing a new exercise routine, finishing a creative project, figuring out how to spend more time with friends or saving up money for a new car or vacation. Whatever it is, use your list as a guide to help you stay focused on what truly matters and letting go of things not serving you well.
4. Make Moon Milk
Milk is a drink that consists of warm milk mixed with spices and herbs. This beverage helps the body and mind relax and fall sleep. I love to make Moon Milk on nights when I just want to relax with a good movie or book or as part of a moon ritual.
Moon-Brightened Water Instructions:
To make moon-brightened water place a glass jar of water outside under the direct light of a full moon, allowing it to soak up the moon’s power. You can drink it daily while reminding yourself of your intentions. You can also use it to water your plants, cleanse your home or put it in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil to create a facial toner. You can also infuse rose petals for this Moon Milk recipe.
5. Conduct a Full Moon Ritual
Tuning to nature and the environment helps us understand ourselves on a deeper level. I find doing full moon rituals helps to be more inspired, hopeful, healthy and productive. The time of the month with a full moon is a time for release. We can learn lessons of release from the fall leaves that turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, then fall from their branches.
Viewing a big full harvest moon is magical. Its gentle glow can have a calming effect, leaving you feeling refreshed and renewed. My family has the tradition to have a picnic and watch the harvest moon rise. We pack apples, pears, vegetables, hummus, smoked salmon and apple cider and go to a mountain top to watch the stunning orange globe rise. A moon ritual is a great opportunity to reflect on what you want to bring in to your life and what you want to let go of. A full moon is ritual a good opportunity to celebrate all you have accomplished so far this month and is associated with positive changes. There are many ways to celebrate the full moon see what feel good to you.
6. Eat Fall Food
When the weather gets cooler we need to give up the raw salads that we enjoyed during the summer months and switch to warming and nourishing comfort foods like soups and stews. Foods in season for fall are apples, pears, figs and winter squash. The Fall element is metal and the taste is spicy! Try adding warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, curry or peppermint to dishes. These items can nourish your autumn organs (Lungs/Large Intestine) and defend against invasions of virus.
7. Knit a Scarf
The nape of the neck is particularly susceptible to wind and pathogens. Keeping this area covered and the body warm helps to create a buffer from the environment to protect the body from external factors. I love to go to the yarn store and pick out the softest yarn I can find in fall colors, of course. It is so relaxing and meditative to just sit down on the couch light a candle and use my hands to create something useful in its end product. The process of knitting itself is peaceful to the spirt. Try your hand at knitting this fall it is easier than you may think.
8. Make Pine Needle Tea & Pear - Honey Lung Tea
Making a tea with pine needles may sound a bit odd but it’s beneficial to your health, it’s free and it’s simple to make. Pine needles have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, are pain-relieving and help your lungs function (expectorant and decongestant). Pine needles also contain antioxidants and Vitamin C. Pine needles steeped in hot water readily release shikimic acid, one of the key ingredients in antiviral drugs. To make a fragrant pine needle lung tea, cut the needles in thirds, add 1/3 cup needles to a mug and fill the mug with hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 min and then strain. For added lung health (and taste), add honey, dried pears and/or cinnamon. Pears have the ability to clear heat and moisten the lungs. Cinnamon is warming to the digestion, antibacterial and good for the circulation. Honey moisten the lungs and digestive organs is antioxidant, antiviral, and has antibiotic properties. This tea is great for a dry cough and can help prevent constipation, a wonderful addition to try this fall.
Note: Do not drink pine needle tea if pregnant. Make sure you identify trees properly and avoid trees with pesticides.
9. Make Pomegranate Pear Dessert
This is one of my favorite desserts to make in the fall.
“Life starts over again when it gets crisp in the fall”
“The leaves are about to show us how beautiful it can be to let go”
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything burst with its last beauty as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale”
I hope you enjoy some of my fall recipes and suggestions to keep you healthy this fall season. Enjoy the cozy beauty all around you this fall!
Chinese Medical theory encourages us to live in harmony with the season we are in. Right now we are in the freezing cold winter season of February. The winter season influences the function of our kidneys. The Kidneys’ function is to store energy and transform fluids. Accordingly, during winter it is important to rest and do restorative and calming activities. This allows your body to store resources, nutrients and energy in preparation for spring. The kidneys also influence reproduction, the brain, bone health, fluid secretions and the emotions specifically fear. Should the kidneys become out of balance, constantly looking for danger, paranoia, anxiety, infertility, adrenal/chronic fatigue, lower back pain, weak knees and urinary issues can occur.
Winter is a time for self-reflection and a good time to review behaviors and habits. You may find that some are serving you well and some are in need of change. I have been enjoying writing in a journal this winter. It helps me to better understand my feelings and the roles they serve. It also helps me to get unpleasant thoughts out of my mind so they do not keep me stuck in a pattern, further draining my kidneys’ energy.
Chinese Medicine links each season to a number of characteristics. Winter has the following qualities:
COLOR: BLACK/DARK BLUE
SENSE ORGANS: EARS
VIRTUES: STRENGTH, COURAGE, & WISDOM
1. It is very important to keep the body warm, rested and well-hydrated in the winter. Cold enters the body through the feet and wind through the neck, so protect these areas with a scarf and warm socks.
2. Enjoy a relaxing Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt contains magnesium which reduces inflammation and is easily absorbed through the skin. Epsom salt baths are a great way to clear the mind, relax sore muscles, relieve headaches, soothe neck tension and aid dry skin. Epsom salt baths are also helpful for those suffering from anxiety and sleeplessness. Magnesium increases serotonin levels, the brain’s happy hormone. Add a cup or two of Epsom salt to a warm bath, light a candle, play some music and relax. It’s the perfect way to end a stressful week.
3. In winter it is important to nourish the immune system. Keep the body warm and support immune health with elderberry syrup. Studies have shown the antiviral benefits of elderberry. Elderberry prevents a virus from replicating by inhibiting its ability to penetrate a body’s cells. If elderberry syrup is taken after an infection, it reduces the duration of viral symptoms. Elderberry syrup’s dark purple color resonates with winter and the kidney. Here is the recipe I made as gifts for family and friends this holiday season.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
1 cup dried elderberries
4 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp whole cloves
½ cup honey
Add the water, elderberries and spices to a large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 45 min. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain-out the elderberries and compost. Stir in the honey. Pour into a glass storage container.
Take one tablespoon of elderberry syrup each morning during the winter months for immune health. If you feel the start of cold symptoms, take a tablespoon every two hours. You can also make a ‘cocktail’ with a tablespoon of elderberry syrup, a squeeze of lemon and soda water. It is a nice immune system kidney tonic treat. Perfect for winter.
4. If you struggle to stay warm on these frigid winter days, try teas with warming spices and warm up from the inside. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods, teas and spices can have either a warming or a cooling effect on the body. Even if a food feels warm to the touch, it doesn’t necessarily have a warming effect on the body. Teas that increase energy can help warm your kidneys, support blood circulation and dispel the feeling of chill during the winter months. I like a good warming chai tea with the ultra-warming spices of ginger, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Lighter teas, like green, yellow and white are cooling energetically and are better suited for the springtime. Dark teas and herbs that taste spicy tend to create the most warmth in the body.
5. Tart cherries belong to a category of medicinals that are nourishing to the heart and blood. They help to calm stress and the emotions as they sooth the liver and the heart. I like to drink a shot of tart cherry juice before bed as a nighttime treat. If you have sleeping issues, cherry juice can be helpful as tart cherries are high in melatonin, the hormone in charge of helping us fall asleep. Tart cherry juice helps hydrate the kidneys, and helps provide us with the quality of rest that is so important in the winter.
6. I absolutely love mushrooms for immune system strengthening. I take a mushroom supplement called Agarikon every morning. Agarikon mushrooms not only have strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents, but also have antiviral properties. This fungus has significantly more antibacterial and antiviral properties than the majority of other fungal species because of its long-life. Agarikon can live up to 75 years! It is a great immune system boost, helping you to stay well all winter.
Another important mushroom and one of my favorite supplements is the reishi mushroom. In traditional Chinese Medicine reishi mushrooms are used for calming the mind and increasing energy. It is in a category of Chinese Herbs that effectively relieves anxiety by nourishing blood and Qi (energy). It is great for the winter blues. I like to add it to my morning drink as a powder.
7. I love to keep fresh flowers around the house, especially in the winter. This holiday season I received a gift of bulbs in a clear vase. They quickly bloomed into beautiful, white, fragrant flowers and made the house look and smell wonderful. Fresh flowers are very good for the emotions (shen). Bringing in a little bit of nature’s beauty helps us to get through the dark cold winter when we are forced to stay inside. The smell of fresh flowers is one of nature’s pleasures.
8. Rose petals (Mei Gui Hua) steeped in hot water are a great way to uplift your mood. Rose has a calming effect on the mind and body. Roses promote the movement of energy when we feel stagnant in our emotions and bodies. Roses promote the healthy circulation of the blood to relieve menstrual pain, breast tenderness, PMS, stress, headaches and abdominal pain. I get dried rose petals from a local apothecary and add them to a warm cup of water whenever I feel a negative mood setting in.
9. We all know keeping active is good for our health. Spending some time outside in the fresh air and sunshine on a cool winter day can be nourishing for the body and mind. The rush of endorphins after exercise can clear the mind, uplift the mood and make us feel stronger. During Covid-19, I have bundled up many times and taken my dog Charlie on his daily walk around the neighborhood. It is a great self-care ritual. Sometimes during our walks I listen to a podcast or catch up with family and friends. Sometimes, I just connect with the beauty of nature. On one of our walks, I discovered a community tree. The owners of the tree provide small circular wood ornaments for their neighbors to decorate. My family decorated an ornament and it now hangs on the tree. It was a fun activity that brought us closer to the community.
I hope you will enjoy and try some of my favorite things.
Of course Acupuncture can help you feel more rest and healthy this season. Please reach out with any questions.
I hope you have a warm, restful loving winter.
COOL food in the summer
What to eat in the summer heat
As a Chinese medical professional, one of the questions I often get asked is, “What should I eat?” The answer to this question is not the same for everyone depending on their Chinese medical diagnosis and the season. Chinese medical nutrition has a different way of looking at the types of food we eat. It is less concerned with the calories, carbohydrates, protein, etc. but puts more emphasis on how the food makes you feel or the way it changes your body’s microsystem.
7 Ways to Cool and Hydrate your body this SUMMER
1. Keep a pitcher of spa-water in your home
Simply add cucumber and mint to a pitcher of water. Both cucumber and mint are cooling to the body. Cucumber also replenishes body’s fluids to help with dehydration and thirst. I just had family in town from Germany and a cousin had a small spray bottle to mist us in the heat of the day. You could try filling a small spray bottle with your spa water and misting yourself while you are out and about in the summer heat.
2. Eat steamed broccoli in the summer
Broccoli is green and green food cool your body down. Broccoli also helps to cool red eyes that some people experience in the summer.
3. Drink coconut water to stay hydrated
Coconut water has electrolytes, like potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are needed by cells to absorb hydration for optimal function.
4. Drink watermelon juice with lavender and lemon
Watermelon clears excess heat in the body and moistens the body fluids. Lavender helps to calm the mind of excess worry, the perfect thing to help the heart feel joyful this summer. Lemons help the watermelon replenish the body’s fluids and have a cooling effect on the body.
5. Eat fish in the summer
Fish nourish the body fluids and the blood and cools the body. They contain omega-3 which helps lower inflammation. They are also helpful if you are trying to have a baby.
6. Make a pea soup
Peas in Chinese medicine help with digestion and can moisten the bowel to help with constipation.
7. Grapefruit is a great cooling citrus to eat in the summer heat
It improves the immune system in addition to slowly releasing its sugar into your blood stream. Grapefruit can also help a dry cough and strengthen the detoxifying ability of your body. Please be cautious eating grapefruit with certain medications as it can make them become more powerful.Take the time to enjoy your summertime meals.
Joyfulness, especially in the summertime, helps you to be in balance with the season and in turn helps you become healthy. Eat with a friend or partner and say what each of you are grateful for. Light a candle and pick a summer wildflower to introduce to your table for added ambiance. Get out in nature and have a picnic!
I hope you have enjoyed Find Your Balance Acupuncture’s recommendations for what to eat in the summer! Have a joyful season!
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