“Spring is a great time to Detox” written by Guest blogger, Mimi Miller, LaC.

It’s spring! The light is changing, the days are becoming noticeably longer, a subtle scent in the air whispers soft promises of eventual blooms. Although the stillness of winter still surrounds us, if we wander into the places where our innate senses live, we can feel the exuberance of spring doing a little preparatory jig. More than we may realize, our bodies, our minds and our very spirits are deeply intertwined with the change of seasons.  The ancient Chinese realized and honored this connection. Out of that, emerged the Five Element Theory. Each element has specific connections to the primal forces of the universe, the state of the earth, our health and frame of mind as well as the state of our spirit. A brief introduction to the basics of the Elements and then a dive into spring, the Wood Element and how to best support one’s self during the season.

The five elements are comprised of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. The primary movement that occurs from one element to the next is referred to as the Creation cycle. From Fire comes the creation of the Earth. From the Earth comes Metal. Metal runs Water. Water allows for the growth of Wood and Wood gives Fire the fuel to burn. Each Element when properly nourished and supported is able to support the next and life goes well. That said, imbalance happens.

Relative to our planet, personal health, relationships…life, we aren’t always cruising through all of life’s cycles without some bumps and glitches. Understanding the essence of each Element and how to apply the information to multiple aspects of living from diet to attitude to the use of color, can be very beneficial. If during winter you are wondering why you don’t have the energy you think you should, why you feel a bit more reclusive, want to sleep more and just don’t crave those raw fresh salads and fruits that you might think you should eat, you are not suffering from a malady. You are actually instinctively tuning in to what is most appropriate for the regeneration of your Kidney/Urinary Bladder system and the Water Element of winter. If you have pushed yourself into overriding those instincts, you may not have the resources to move easily into spring, in which case you may find yourself feeling irritable and unable to make decisions.

Understanding the energetic patterns of the Five Elements and their associated seasons can assist in supporting ourselves through life more effectively and with greater ease and joy. So on to the Wood Element and its associated season of spring. The spirit of the Wood Element encompasses and expresses all that we associate with springtime. As we observe new growth emerging after the quiet of winter with the sprouting of seeds and blossoming of flowers and fruit trees, we are filled with renewed hope at the vision of life’s potential. The emerging activity of the earth invites our own innate desire to become more active, more energetic and more vital. We begin to shift from our tendency in winter to hold a more inward focus to a more expansive view that encompasses new possibilities, new ideas and new plans. If we have rested and renewed our resources appropriately during the winter months of the Water Element, we now have the energy, the life force that enables us to experience ourselves as ready and able to move forward in life.

The Divine order of all that exists can be observed in Wood’s relationship to birth, growth and regeneration. Our DNA holds the master plan for the formation of our physical existence. Without this plan, we could not proceed in development beyond conception. The same holds true for all that exists in nature. Everything requires a blueprint, a plan in order to manifest. This blueprint can be thought of as synonymous with a subconscious knowing of the essential rightness of life. The two paired organs that are associated with Wood are the Liver and the Gallbladder. Classically, the Liver is referred to as the “Official of Planning” or in some cases the “General”. When the Liver is functioning with ease and healthy flow it does so, much like an architect who is in charge of organizing and manifesting a blueprint, or a general who is overseeing the troops and the masses, maintaining healthy order. The vision is clear, plans are intact and we are able to relax into a sense of trust in life’s design. Of course a good plan requires contingencies and a healthy liver supports that need by allowing for appropriate flexibility when change is necessary. Conversely, when the liver is strained or suffering from stagnation, there is a tendency for rigidity, anger and frustration.

The Gallbladder is referred to as “The Judge” or the “Official of Decision Making”. Even the best plan becomes useless without the ability to make decisions relative to implementation. As the Liver functions like an architect, the Gallbladder can be seen as the contractor or construction foreman who is able to make clear and healthy choices as each step of the plan is brought into fruition. If the Gallbladder is congested or inflamed, there is a tendency for indecision, disorganization and difficulty implementing plans or follow-through.

On a spiritual level, the Wood Element supports our ability to see beyond the physical and gives us the motive force to create. Traditionally, the spirit aspect of the Wood Element is referred to as the Hun or Etheric Soul. Of the “Five Souls” that are attributed to the Five Elements, the Hun is said to be the only Soul that survives the physical body after death. It is the Hun that holds the consciousness of the Divine plan itself and guides us on the greater path. What finer expression of hope for the continual return of springtime could there be, than awareness of ourselves as Eternal?

 Each of the Five Elements has a number of associations. These are related to Wood.

Organs: Liver and Gallbladder

Sense Organ: Eyes

Tissue: Tendons

Taste: Sour

Color: Green

Sound: Shouting

Odor: Rancid

Emotion: Anger

Season: Spring

Environment: Wind

Developmental Stage: Birth

Direction: East

Body Type: Tall, slender, strong bones and joints.

In Balance: Hard worker, loves a challenge, leader, good organizer, sees plans through, does well under pressure, active, loves adventure and movement, likes to be first and best, decisive yet able to be flexible.

Out of Balance: Angry, mean, irritable, Intolerant, impatient, volatile emotions, extremist, headaches, muscle twitches and spasms, nerve inflammations, migratory pains, red eyes, upper abdominal pain, high blood pressure, issues with tendons and ligaments, abuse of stimulants, sedatives or other substances.

Foods: Grains: Oats, Wheat, Rye (If Gluten sensitive, these could irritate rather than nourish the Liver and Gallbladder).

Legumes: Green Lentil, Mung Beans, Lima Beans.

Nuts/Seeds: Brazil and Cashew Nuts.

Vegetables: Green Bell Pepper, Green Peas, Lettuce, String Beans, Zucchini.

Fruits: Avocado, Grapes, Lemons, Lime, Plum.

Cautions: Soft Dairy Foods, Coffee, Alcohol, Oily or Greasy Foods, Hot Spices.

 *Incorporate these foods at any time but particularly during spring to support the Liver and Gallbladder. Of course avoid any that you are allergic to. Eat Organic as much as possible.

* Avoid the foods/substance on the caution list.

*The juice of a lemon or lime in warm water, first thing in the morning is great for a mild daily cleanse.

*Daily meditation practice helps to calm the liver.

* Regular, appropriate exercise stimulates healthy liver function and reduces stress.

*Planting and gardening nourishes Wood.

*Plenty of good water keeps tendons and ligaments more flexible and healthy.

* Use shades of green in your environment and clothing.

*Be aware of your emotions and express constructively rather than suppress.

Suppressed emotions, particularly anger, inflame the liver and gallbladder and can lead to depression.

*Overexposure to wind can aggravate.

*Consider your hopes, dreams and wishes, choose something dear to your heart and WRITE A PLAN.

Then start implementation one step at a time. Spring is the time!

As a practitioner of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, one of the most challenged organ systems that I see is that of the Liver and Gallbladder. The Liver is a primary player in the process of detoxification and is challenged by diets high in fat, sugars, coffee, chemical preservatives, overly hot spices, alcohol and by drugs, medications and most intensely by STRESS.

So spring is the perfect time to do a Liver cleanse. There are numerous cleanse products on the market which are best chosen relative to personal need and lifestyle. If you are a busy, working individual it is advisable to avoid those that involve fasting as this may cause a level of depletion that will undermine the desired result. If you are new to cleansing or have any health challenges, discuss your options and proceed with the guidance of a trained healthcare professional. Cleansing twice a year in spring and in fall is optimal.

Mimi Miller  L.Ac.

Solana Beach, CA  92075




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