by Erin Kumpf LA.c MSTOM
SPRING IS HERE. (I know you are as excited as I am about this statement.) As we move from the uber YIN, cold, retracted, inward and downward flowing, introspective season of winter (dominated by the Kidney energy and WATER element) we are beginning the transition into the season dominated by the LIVER and WOOD energy. Spring and the wood element have everything to do with breaking through old habits and patterns, creating fresh new starts and embarking on new projects.
The wood energy has an upward and outward movement, which makes sense since the wood energy and its associated season is all about rebirth and renewal, growth, reaching forward and the beginning of all things new. Just as a seedling breaks through the cold, hard, frozen earth and bursts forth despite the seeming odds, our wood energy allows us to burst forth in our creative potential and new endeavors with gust and enthusiasm. However, this particular season, as invigorating and as exciting as it is, can often elicit a bit of obstreperous and chaotic energy as well.
The upward and outward reaching our our wood energy needs balance, to be rooted and allowed appropriate expression else we can get “stuck”, feeling impatient, unable to adapt and bend our way through life’s obstacles which can lead to friction, stagnation and potentially anger, resentment and depression. We need a healthy and balanced Liver and Wood energy to ensure smooth transition into and throughout this highly active season. The Liver cleanses and filters the blood and helps eliminate toxins from our body. In Chinese Medicine the Liver is responsible for ensuring that everything is flowing correctly, including our Qi and Blood, but also our energy and emotions. Detoxifying our lives (not only our Liver and internal system but also outside) can help filter out the figurative and literal garbage, opening up space for new ideas and endeavors to flourish, allowing for clarity in our intent and actions and to see things through to fruition.
Ahh..the “D” work again. Seems that everyone is “detoxing” these days; whether its the Master Cleanse advocates, the Isagenix crew, the “Dry Februarians”, or my Paleo peeps, the idea is all similar: purging that which is no longer suiting us, giving our internal organs a break from the accumulations of toxins with which our modern diet (and surrounding environment) is often laden and allowing reparation of our internal gut flora, our liver’s detoxifying functioning and kidney’s filtering ability. But, detoxifying other aspects of our lives is as important as removing the toxic foods from our diet. Whether that means replacing persistent negative thoughts with more positive ones, disengaging from “toxic” people who are zapping positive energy and engaging in physical activities that both energize and revitalize ourselves, this is a great time to do an inventory and determine what in your life, needs to be given the old “Heave Ho” and what you need to bring into your life.
Here are some ways I encourage a bit of spring detoxifying in both our bodies and minds, which will help prepare for the transition into the Spring season.
1.Warm water and Lemon: a great way to flush out our system by enhancing enzyme functioning and simulating your liver, especially first thing in the morning (if you’ve been a patient of mine, you know my homework for everyone is to start off the day with something warm to help the digestive fire.)
2.Lets get real people, processed foods are just no good…take an inventory of your pantry and make a note of things that you’d like to eventually replace so you are prepared for the next time you go shopping. If you can’t pronounce it, most likely you shouldn’t be putting it in your mouth.
3.Chlorella and Spirulina: talk about superfood! This pair of algae are super high in chlorophyll which cleanses the blood and can help balance blood sugar levels; chock full of nucleic acids which are imperative for cellular repair and renewal and can bind to heavy metals, allowing them to be eliminated from the body.
4.Get outside and move! Walk, run, dance, moonwalk, whatever it is, get outside and move. Work up a little bit of sweat. We are meant to move and most of us could use a little outside time. Better yet, get yourself into a garden, park or some kind of green space. We have about 5 parks within a 5 mile radius. Lets enjoy them!
5.Balance with activities that gently stretch our bodies (Liver and Wood energy is associated with our tendons and ligaments so yoga, tai chi and pilates are great yin activities to balance the more rigorous yang exercises.)
6.Cupping! Cupping is an ancient modality used by various ancient cultures and involves creating a gentle suction with glass, plastic or bamboo cups to improve blood circulation, lymphatic movement and cellular regeneration and detoxification.
7.Steam that face: Throw just a drop or two (no more!) of an essential oil or two such as tea tree, or eucalyptus and maybe some fresh or dried lavender, nettle or chamomile, into a basin of very hot water and you got yourself a bonafide, purifying face bath to clear your pores and skin.
8.Turn off the phone: This is a hard one. I know. But…try it. Its good for the soul.
9.Use a dry brush! Do it. And to target the Liver channel, start near the big toe and work up the insides of your ankles, inner legs and up into your torso on the sides to stimulate qi and blood flow in the Liver channel.
10.Organize your closet and donate everything you have not worn over a year.
Regardless of what your “detoxifying” strategy is, clearing out the gunk from our body, mind and life itself can have a remarkable impact. Great things can happen if you make the space and this is the season to do so!
**Register for my Community Auricular Acupuncture session on March 12th here!
Erin Kumpf L.Ac, MSTOM is a nationally board certified and state licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist. She holds Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is continuing her studies by completing her doctorate. She incorporates various facets of this ancient medicine including acupuncture, herbs, tui na, gua sha, cupping and moxibustion. While working as a general practitioner, she also has clinical training as an acupuncturist at the Lutheran Medical Center, working in the Labor and Delivery Ward as well as experience working at the drug addiction treatment center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers. She works with patients of all ages: babies through the elderly. She approaches and respects each patient as a unique individual with unique ailments and strives to help them to wellness with personalized strategies.