Traditional Chinese Medicine spring detox


Photo: Biegun Wschodni

Oh Spring! I’ve been waiting for you for months. This winter has been strange in NYC. Some days were extremely cold, and others unusually warm. Last week I went to my acupuncturist, and after the session we had a conversation about detoxing. I instantly connected to the idea of a seasonal detox (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)). This approach feels more gentle, and is a more balanced way to go. It is connected the the seasons and to what’s happening around us. I’ve never done a Western-type of detox that everyone is talking about because I don’t feel comfortable about just stripping away things from my body, bad and good at once. TCM detox, on the other hands, feels more natural and organic to the body.

TCM is one of the oldest continuously practiced medicines in the world. It recognizes the nature and, most importantly, Qi [ch’i] energy that is the underlying force of all that exists in the world. TCM understands how the energy flows inside our human bodies and our environment, and therefore knows how to balance those energies when we feel sluggish, stuck, or sick. By staying deeply connected to nature we can cure our bodies through that alignment.

When we are talking about detoxifying our bodies we are talking about Liver. Let’s look at how TCM helps liver to be more in alignment and more healthy.

It is important to know that TCM is based on the Theory of 5 elements:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water.

Each element is associated with a season, climate, stage of growth, an internal organ, body tissue, sense, taste, emotion, color, sound, foods and more.

Our liver is associate with Wood element and spring season. Spring is the perfect time to enhance and balance liver function (physical and energetic). From TCM perspective, liver, in order to be strong, needs warm energy, and the flow. By clearing the energy of liver in the spring we set a tone for the whole year. I also believe that by “cleaning our house” in the spring we make space for the good to enter our lives. We are preparing the soil for the bright new greens to emerge. We are part of this world, the nature, and so the same principles that take place in the nature happen within our human bodies as well.

I was cleaning my garden today, preparing for planting soon, and saw this tiny little sprout. Without the clearing I would not even notice it.

Here I’m going to share with you which foods help to promote the warmth and the flow in the body:

  • bamboo shoots
  • broccoli rabe
  • eggplant
  • dandelions greens
  • scallions
  • fennel
  • garlic, ginger and lemon – warming essence.

Liver is also associated with sour taste, so adding a warm apple cider vinegar drink to the daily morning routine would be a huge benefit.

Image by The hearty soul.

It is very interesting that recently I particularly been enjoying eggplant and bamboo shoots without knowing the Theory of 5 elements yet. It all makes sense now.

This simple recipe that I’ve learned making is Chinese eggplant. I grill it with ginger, garlic, scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce. Serve with brown rice. Try it! I did not have a chance to take a photo of this dish, but here is a good image from the net to give you an idea.

Image by Taste Spotting.

Spring is the time of change and transformation. By incorporating these simple foods into our diet we can help our bodies to be stronger and more balanced at this time of the year. By doing so we are preparing the base for the rich and lush energy to emerge. I do believe that detox is not about taking something away, but rather balancing what we have. When we are in balance, whatever our body does not need will naturally depart.

Share with me how you are feeling. Does it feel nourishing to incorporate these Wood element foods into your diet?



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