What a fine time to introduce a new blog. Welcome tumultuous March! the closing of Winter while teetering on the cusp of Spring. March can invoke the yearning for planting seeds indoors, mapping out garden plots and tending our external and Internal “gardens”, all while the skies can be gray, chilly, foreboding and snowy. I welcome spring, longer days, musings and anticipation of the first green herbal leaf and rebirth after an introspective and restful winter. Emerging from winter’s slumber, sometimes blanketed in a late winter /early spring snow, our early spring plant allies beckon us out of our winter’s nest to transition into spring, supporting and nourishing our bodies in harmony with Earth’s seasons.
The seeds of last autumn are beginning to germinate, stirring with energy needed to burst into bud or seedling with renewed hope. We feel it too!
As welcome as Spring is, some people can experience intense feelings of melancholy, irritability, and anxiety. “everyone seems so happy, yet I feel jumpy and frustrated… what’s wrong with me?” This is happening all around us – it’s Nature’s energy rising. Pressure of energy builds within you being coaxed up from the extended sunlight and slightly warmer temperatures. Just like a maple tree in early spring, the virgin green color fills the branches and the tree’s sap starts rising. The tree feels its rising potential along with a profound sense of being pent up, just as we do, gradually building within, but does not yet know how it will appear. Only when its leaves burst out later in the spring months will its purpose become apparent. So, with us, the rising energy is experienced both as joy/anger /impatience – trust that the feeling will resolve. Let’s sit quiet and wait, with a cuppa tea, spring gardening books and seed catalogues in hand. In TCM, Spring’s element is wood. The power of wood is gentle, persistent and filled with the creative potential. Having the power of both being and becoming-of being true to your own nature and becoming more yourself by clearly expressing its inner needs and desires. Wood gently penetrates the earth to bring forth water, the source of life, drawing from our roots we find energy to push forward with seasoned strength and firmness of purpose always remaining limber and yielding to our own true nature.
Known as the season of renewal, spring is the perfect time to support our kidneys, liver and lymphatic body systems. After a winter’s rest, our bodies can have more stagnation in the form of spring allergies, congestion, joint pain and a natural buildup of mucus, that the body tries to expel along with any lingering microbes, to clear our body and mind in readiness for the needed increased energy we will need to undertake our spring endeavors.
It is a divine plan that Nature provides our natural medicinal food at exactly the time we need it, to cleanse and nourish the “sanitation system” of our bodies- the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. Let’s look at some herbs to assist us through the process.
Loving our Liver-Dandelion leaf is a robust bitter that supports the kidney, liver and digestive systems. The leaves are aquaretic,( a diuretic that increase urine elimination without depleting potassium) helping to relieve water retention by supporting the kidneys to flush out excess waste. The bitter principal aids digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Dandelion Root- an excellent bitter/liver tonic that stimulates gastric secretions, bile, liver and pancreatic juices. It supports and tonifies a sluggish liver. Dandelion root is a rich source of inulin, a sugary starch which stimulates the growth of healthy gut flora.-CONTRAINDICATIONS- as dandelion is a stimulant to this system, refrain from ingesting dandelion root if there are blockages or inflammation of the bile ducts, gallbladder or intestines.
Our Lymphatic System- Some people get discouraged when they go on a detox to start removing toxins from their bodies. They feel sick or tired and think that something is wrong or its not working- then quit. What’s usually happening is that the lymphatic system is congested and can’t handle the toxic load being released from the cells.
A peak functioning lymphatic system is key to health and vitality. Our lymphatic system is the plumbing that carries away and filters out poisonous waste from every cell, tissue and organ. It absorbs fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive tract and delivers them to the body’s cells. It is also an essential part of the immune system that maintains fluid levels, fights infection and produces disease fighting white blood cells. The lymph is our “ garbage collector” and is the largest circulatory system in the body. However, the lymphatic system needs our help to move the fluid through the body because it doesn’t have a pump of its own. Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease due to toxic overload resulting in fatigue, infection and these following symptoms:
Headaches, swollen lymph nodes/tonsils, mucous in the morning, mucous draining, constipation, itchy skin frequent colds /flu, pain and stiffness along spine and shoulders and inability to lose weight.
You can nurture and tone the lymphatic system with body movement, hydration, deep breathing, dry brushing and of course, Herbs!
Our early Spring green herbal allies are a treasure trove of nutrients like vitamin C, minerals, chlorophyll, and sour tastes to rev up our lymphatic system. Many people don’t realize that Nature has provided some of best medicine in the form of early spring weeds- Cleavers, dandelion, violet, nettles and chickweed.
Cleavers is a mild but effective diuretic used for irritation and inflammation of the bladder, urethra and lymph nodes.
Chickweed shares the same effects of cleavers, but also a fabulous vulnerary- topically for inflammation, of the skin and mucus membranes.
Nettle leaf- be careful of the sting! - but it is mineral-rich with iron, magnesium, calcium, boron and carotenoids, specific for anemia it builds blood and is also an aquaretic-like dandelion leaf. This ally is prime” food” for the kidney – Nettle leaf strengthens and tones the function of the kidney.
Violet is an edible and medicinal as well as a sweet little woodland flower. This herb is an alterative, laxative, nutritive and demulcent. Violet is used specifically for chronic lymphatic congestion/swelling and impaired lymph drainage.
The season of renewal welcomes us to renew on multiple levels, our body, our minds and our spirit. While I am patiently honoring my melancholic rising energy, I’ll take an early Spring walk (to move the Lymph) with a nod to the wood element, breathing deeply into the portal of a new season, scouting about for the first signs of plant medicine, rejoicing in the rising light and whispering to my plant friends how much I ‘ve missed them!