Time for Spring Cleaning

dandelion

I really love to clean… no seriously, it is weird, but true. Okay yes I get super sick of cleaning my house all the time. But nothing feels better to me when I am super stressed… to just do some crazy cleaning. Spring cleaning is great for aesthetics and how the feng shui in the house appears, but it is also great for internal work too. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Spring is associated with the Wood element, and the Liver organ system. The Liver is paired with the Gall Bladder. The Liver governs the tendons and ligaments in the body and is considered the “general organ.” You know the one that tells everyone else what to do, how to do it and go, go, go!!! The Liver is associated with a SOUR flavor and the color GREEN. The Liver is something we tax in our society in so many ways, physically, emotionally and energetically.

So this Spring lets do some Spring Cleaning and really help support that Liver!!!

Herbs to Support the Liver

  • Best Liver Formula: Xiao Yao Wan (Free and Easy Wanderer) Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach and moves Liver Qi. And come on… the name kind of says it all; I love to be a free and easy wanderer in life.
  • Single Herbs that are great in Tea: Dandelion Root, Burdock Root, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Artichoke Leaf and my local favorite… Oregon Grape.
  • Foods that Support the Liver: Leafy greens, sour foods like lemon, green smoothies, fermented foods, beets and beet greens and seasonal foods.

Movement to Support the Liver

  • ANY movement!!! Remember the Liver governs the tendons and ligaments in the body… so just getting up and getting moving is going to help make the Liver happy. Taking a nice brisk walk to enjoy the emerging flowers around town; oh this is really embracing the Spring energy of the Liver…. ah…

green

Benefits of a Healthy Liver

  • Hormone Balance
  • Improved Digestion
  • Increased Energy
  • Efficient Detox
  • Less Allergies

Ways to do a Gentle Spring Clean on the Liver

  • Up the amount of fresh plants and veggies in the diet
  • Drink a Liver supportive tea daily for two weeks
  • Add some lemon juice to your water (please drink room temperature or warm, not iced water)
  • Try to eat healthier: limit oils, limit processed foods and heavy, hard to digest foods like animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.)
  • Foods to focus on: salad greens, vegetables, dark leafy greens, green smoothies, green juices… see the GREEN theme here

Green Juice Recipe to Support the Liver

  • 1 green apple
  • 6 leaves of romaine lettuce (or other salad green)
  • 1 chard leaf
  • 2 kale leaves (or sub 1 collard green)
  • 1/4 bunch parsely
  • slice of lemon (if you like more sour add more lemon)
  • Ginger (optional, but I love the warming balance)

Green-Juice

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Hawthorne Berry A Holiday Favorite

hawthorne berries close 6 Jan 12

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus monogyna or C. douglasii) and Chinese Crataegus (Shan Zha) is an herb that is extremely popular is both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine alike. In Chinese Medicine we use Shan Zha to alleviate food stagnation by assisting in digesting meats and greasy foods and to nourish the heart and improve circulation. In Western Medicine hawthorn berry is used to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and a great herb for overall cardiac and circulatory health. Since we just had the most gluttonous of all holidays (Thanksgiving) I thought it would be a great herb to focus on this month.

It was Thanksgiving 23 years ago that I decided to go vegetarian, and then subsequently vegan and more recently gluten free. When I was 12 I had my first pet, Buddy, a parakeet. This little bird really made me think twice about the turkey focused holiday and I decided I could not eat my beloved Buddy’s turkey friend. So I am thankful for Buddy for laying the groundwork for many positive changes that I have come to make. I am also very thankful for my amazing and supportive family. Okay now back to the topic at hand… hawthorn berries!!!

Since we tend to eat lots of high fat foods during the holidays hawthorn berries are a perfect herb to help us digest our favorite holiday foods. Hawthorn berries are available in tea, tincture, powdered and capsule form. Making tea is a great way to enjoy this herbal medicine and you can have it with your meals to help you digest your food.

Hawthorn Berry Tea

  • 1-2 teaspoons dried berries
  • 1 cup water

Bring water and berries to a boil, reduce heat to let simmer while covered for 10-15 minutes. Strain out the berries and enjoy! Can also add some sweetener and or lemon juice to taste. A sprinkle of cinnamon is good too.

Formulas for Improving Digestion

There are many great Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas for eliminating food stagnation and helping to aid digestion of our heavy holiday meals.

Bao He Wan- Contains hawthorn and other herbs like Shen Qu* (fermented massa) to digest all types of foods. *Shen Qu is a fermented product, but sometimes contains gluten.

Curing Pills (Kang Ning Wan)- is another great formula for reducing food stagnation, but again contains Shen Qu (gluten).

Mu Xiang Shen Qi Wan- aids in digestion and is even supportive for digestive issues from a stomach flu. Gluten Free!!!

Even though there are great formulas and herbs to improve digestion the best way to feel good over the holidays is to eat healthy foods, eat slowly and chew your food!!!

Here is a great site for getting Hawthorn Berries and some interesting history and folklore too… Have fun!

 

 

Eating Seasonally in the Fall

Some Delicious Fermented Veggies

Fall is a time that I feel inspired with food… making good food, going to potlucks and remembering to slow down when I eat. The hustle of summer is over and now is a time for introspection and connection. In Chinese Medicine Fall is associated with the Metal Element and the organ system: Lung and Large Intestine. The flavor of Fall is pungent or expansive and the complimentary flavor is astringent. To help preserve and nourish our Lungs and Large Intestine we need both expansion and contraction. My favorite foods to make this time of year are fermented foods. I recently got a couple really amazing birthday gifts that have super inspired me on my fermented journey. 1) Fermented Vegetables book by Christopher and Kirsten Shockey and 2) Easy Fermentor Kit by Nourished Essentials (a local Portland company). I cannot recommend the Easy Fermentor enough… it makes fermenting so much easier and I love that the end result is already in a mason jar, perfect for storage! So far I have made a few different sauerkrauts and fermented veggie combos that are not only super tasty, but also really beautiful to look at on my plate as well. Fermented foods are a perfect food for Fall, because they really preserve and enhance the flavors of this time of year, extending these flavors through the cold winter months. Fermented foods are both expansive and contractive which is in harmony with the nature of this season and supportive of our lovely Lungs and Large Intestine. Our Large Intestine appreciates all the lovely probiotics and restorative function of fermented foods to give us healthy gut flora and our Lungs really appreciate when we put some pungent foods into our fermentation like ginger and garlic.

One of my favorite fermented combinations I have really enjoyed is: cauliflower, beets, daikon, cabbage and ginger. The flavors are balanced from a TCM perspective because they have all five flavors: sweet, sour/astringent, salty, pungent and bitter. I also made a Kimchi inspired blend that is super spicy and I feel like it really keeps my Lungs clear to boost my immune system.

Dinner with Delicious Fermented Vegetables… Yum!!!