According to the Chinese calendar, spring begins in February each year, preceding the spring equinox by about a month and a half. In New England the signs of spring are still subtle during these early months. We’ll experience increased warmth, sunlight and bird songs as well as a stirring of energy within ourselves.
In Chinese Medicine the spring season is closely associated with the energy of the Liver. Like the rising of sap in the trees or the pushing forth of bulbs from the earth, a similar transformation of potential energy begins to rise and activate within each one of us. This is our Liver Qi or energy and its increased stirring coincides with the beginning of spring, regardless of the weather outside.
The Liver channel and organ system, in Chinese Medicine, encompasses far more than just the anatomical liver organ. It is a system of energy, both physical and spiritual, which governs a collection of functions within your body. These functions overlap with the anatomical liver, but they encompass much more than just that of your anatomical liver organ.
When the Liver energy within you is not in balance, specific illnesses caused by the Liver worsen. You may have health issues that seem to pop up out of nowhere this spring, but in fact they have likely surfaced because they are caused by a Liver imbalance.
For most people stress is the number one cause of Liver imbalances. Stress causes your Liver Qi to become restricted, leading to Liver Qi Stagnation. This imbalance in Liver energy is one of the most common patterns that we treat in our clinic.
Acupuncture is incredibly effective at balancing the Liver and reducing stress. Acupuncture has been scientifically shown to treat many of the health problems listed below. If you can relate to any of the below statements, then it’s a good sign you will benefit from some regular acupuncture treatments this season.
1. You’re feeling angry, irritable, anxious or depressed
One of the jobs of the Liver system in Chinese Medicine is to ensure the smooth circulation of Qi or energy within your body. If the Liver Qi is too strong, too hot or is stuck you may experience symptoms such as frustration, anger, irritability, anxiety or depression. This is because you are suffering from Liver Qi Stagnation, Liver Fire or Liver Yang Rising. When your Liver system is brought back into balance you will experience creativity, motivation and the ability to plan your life with clear vision and optimism.
2. You’re having trouble sleeping
Another job of the Liver is to store Blood. If the Liver Qi is unbalanced or the Liver Blood is not properly nourished it will lead to difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, often between the hours of 1 AM – 3 AM. It can also lead to sleep walking, vivid dreams or a feeling of fear just before falling asleep.
3. You have migraines and headaches
Both the Liver’s job of regulating Qi and storing Blood comes into play with most migraines and headaches. When Liver Blood and Yin are too weak or too hot, the Liver energy in your body cannot be properly grounded. This leads to Liver Yang Rising. This ungrounded Liver Yang energy rises up to your head too strongly and causes migraines, headaches and even nausea and high blood pressure.
4. Your digestive system is not happy
In Chinese Medicine, nothing exists or operates in isolation. Each of the organs has specific ways that they are connected to and interact with other organ systems within your body. When your Liver Qi is not moving smoothly or is too strong it can invade or overact on your digestive system. This one of the most common causes of stomach pain, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, hiatal hernia, diarrhea and constipation.
5. Your hormones are out-of-whack
The Liver’s function of storing Blood makes it intimately connected to menstruation and hormone balance. Liver Qi or Blood that is not moving smoothly leads to menstrual problems such as menstrual cramps, clots in the menstrual blood, PMS and irregular cycles. Deficient Liver Blood can lead to long cycles, amenorrhea, infertility and fatigue. Liver imbalances also contribute to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
6. You’re suffering from muscle spasms or tight muscles
Another job of the Liver is to nourish the sinews. The sinews are made up of our tendons, ligaments and fascia. When Liver Blood is weak it cannot properly nourish this connective tissue and this leads to a tendency toward developing muscle spasms or muscle tightness and rigidity.
7. You’re experiencing eye problems, tremors or dizziness
The Liver Channel connects to your eyes and depends upon Liver Blood for proper nourishment. An imbalance in Liver Blood will lead to bloodshot eyes, dry eyes and declining vision. When Liver Blood is weak it cannot properly control or ground the Liver energy. This leads to Liver Wind which causes involuntary movements of the body such as nystagmus and tremors. This is also the main cause of dizziness.
How to balance your Liver for better health
Acupuncture does an excellent job treating Liver imbalances, especially those listed above. Spring is a great time to add regular acupuncture treatments to your health and wellness regime. Those suffering from Liver imbalances find acupuncture restorative, therapeutic and even enjoyable. It’s not uncommon for patients to report a deep sense of relaxation during their treatment as well as better sleep and a renewed vision for their life after treatment. Decisions, tasks or changes that once seemed difficult or impossible can suddenly become effortless after acupuncture treatment. This is because acupuncture is really effective at reducing stress and getting your Qi unstuck.
Other things you can do at home to take care of your Liver this season is to eat lots of lightly steamed dark green or bitter leafy vegetables, beets and other iron rich foods including modest servings of red meat, fish and poultry.
Herbal teas that support and treat the Liver included chamomile and oatstraw which are good for reducing stress and helping with sleep. Mei gui hua (rose buds) and bo he (mint) are good for moving Liver Qi and treating stress, depression and PMS. Gou qi zi (gou ji berries) and nettles are great for nourishing blood. Ju hua (chrysanthemum flowers) are good at clearing heat from Liver for eye problems. Milk thistle and pu gong ying (dandelion root) are good for clearing toxins from the Liver.
For all Liver imbalances it is important to minimize alcohol and caffeine, exercise daily and practice daily stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, stretching and gentle yoga. With this you will be able to shake the winter blues and put the joy back into your spring season.
SCHEDULE YOUR ACUPUNCTURE APPOINTMENT TODAY
To schedule a FREE 20 minute consult, call us at (978) 369-9400. During your consult you will be able to meet one of our practitioners, see our clinic and discuss your health concerns one on one. This is a great way to determine if our approach is right for you!