Spring is a happy time, a time to get up and do. Flowers emerge in long forgotten corners of the garden. The birds return and sing so loudly they wake you in the morning. While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings and a renewal of spirit. A time of activity.
Spring corresponds to the “Wood” element, which according to Chinese medicine relates to the liver.
Chinese medicine considers the liver to be an important organ dominating the emotions. When the liver is disordered, the body will experience a lot of emotional symptoms. For example, being easily angered, irritated and emotional. It is also the season of wind, both in the environment and in our bodies (not flatulence!!).
It is during this time the liver is most sensitive and very susceptible to the effects of wind. Ancient masters of Chinese medicine believe that children commonly have a liver excess or surplus. This means that children may easily develop internal stirring of liver wind which may manifest as hyperactivity. Have you ever witnessed a group of children in a playground on a windy day. They seem to be possessed!!
Foods that eliminate wind, get the energy up & moving in early spring include cabbage, sweet potato, carrots & beetroot. As the weather warms move to mint, sweet rice, shiitake, spouts, wheatgrass, spinach, kale, mushrooms, peas sunflower seeds and pinenuts. Late spring add in cherries.
According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi! By keeping your wood balanced and you liver healthy your kids will be happy & more balanced. They’ll feel vital, flexible and clear. On days when it is not extremely windy, outdoor play is essential. Outside air helps liver qi flow. If your children have been irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Run, ride a bike or ride a scooter.
Spring is also the season to eat above ground vegetables & foods with upward energies. Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants – fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses – can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.
Chinese medicine also suggests you can eat more sour foods because sour can calm the body. Children can eat some sour foods such as tomato, orange, kiwifruit and vinegar or a slice of dill pickle.
On the menu this Spring
Cumquats, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, nashi, oranges, strawberries.
Artichoke, asparagus, asian greens, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, kohlrabi (green), leek, lettuces, peas, silver beet, spinach, spring onions.
Bay leaf, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, bronze fennel, dill, garlic, coriander, watercress.
- Fruit: Apricot, blackberry, damson, fig, gooseberry, peach, peach, pear, plum, raspberry, red currant, strawberry
- Vegetables: Aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, broad bean, broccoli, celeriac, celery, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, kale, leek, new potatoes, parsnip, peas, radish, silverbeet, spinach, sorrel, sweet corn, tomato
- Mushrooms: Chanterelle, black trumpet, cep, girolle, bolete, horn of plenty
- Herbs: Basil, chives, garlic, garlic chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, watercress
Pitchford, P. (1993) 3rd Ed. Healing with Whole Foods. Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.
Professor Wong, L & Knapsey, K (2002) Food for the Seasons. Black Dog Books.