Li Chun- Beginning of Spring: Balancing the Liver, Spleen, and Stomach Through Emotions, Habits, and Dietary Choices
February 4th this year marks the beginning of spring, also known as 'Li chun', which is the first of the 24 solar terms. The term 'Li' signifies 'start', symbolizing the commencement of spring. This period historically marked the time for farmers to begin ploughing and sowing.
The weather on the day of Lichun is often used to predict the agricultural yield for the year, with a saying that goes, "If thunder doesn't strike in spring, a prosperous year is forthcoming." Although the weather becomes warmer in spring, it's still fluctuating, with significant temperature differences between day and night, so it's important to keep warm, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Spring Wellness: Balancing the Liver, Spleen, and Stomach Through Emotions, Habits, and Dietary Choices
In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the liver. As the Yang energy rises in spring, it's believed to smooth the flow of liver Qi. However, according to the Five Elements theory, excessive liver Qi can affect the spleen and stomach functions. Thus, in spring, it's important to aid the Yang energy to smooth the flow of Liver Qi, while protecting the spleen and stomach.
1. Spring Health: Early to Bed, Early to Rise
In winter, it's good to sleep early and wake up late, but this changes in spring to early to bed and early to rise. Traditional Chinese medicine suggests sleeping before 11 PM for detoxification and liver nourishment. Early rising and outdoor walks can stretch the muscles and gradually "awaken" the body, enhancing adaptation to the climate and regulating the body, also helping to lose weight gained during festive seasons. However, elderly people should be aware that mornings are still cold with heavy mist, and it's advisable to exercise outdoors after sunrise.
2. Maintain Positive Mood & Exercise more to protect the Liver (Liver governs emotions)
"Liver governs emotions" and needs to be soothed. In Chinese medicine, concepts like "liver stagnation" and "liver affecting the spleen" are common. During the start of spring, it's important to maintain a positive mood and avoid anger and depression to protect the liver. Activities like outdoor exercise can improve mood and sleep, indirectly benefiting liver health.
3. Soup to nourish liver, spleen and Stomach
For spring health, it's advised to eat less sour food and more sweet flavors to nourish the spleen. Care for the spleen and stomach by avoiding greasy and fried foods, which can drain the Yang energy.
These seasonal ingredients are preferred in soups and other dishes.
Besides traditional medicinal ingredients like Dendrobium Shi Hu 石斛, Dang Shen 黨參, Fish Maw, Poria Fu Ling茯苓, Coix Seed Chi Shi 茨實, Chinese Yam Huai Shan淮山, and Lotus Seed Lian Zi蓮子,
Daily ingredients such as leeks, coriander, lilies, crown daisy, yams, radish, water chestnuts, sugarcane, and fruits and vegetables are recommended.
Teas made from chrysanthemum, rose, hibiscus, and hawthorn are also beneficial.
Nourishing Yin and Moistening Soup
Ingredients: 20g Dendrobium, 20g American Ginseng, 15g Ophiopogon, 20g North and South Apricot Kernels, 20g Fig, 2 Honey Dates, lean meat; simmer for 2 hours with a moderate flame, add salt to taste.
Benefits: Clears heat, replenishes Qi, nourishes Yin.
Yin Nourishing and Qi Regulating Soup
Ingredients: 20g Lean Meat, 12g Fritillaria, 15g Reishi Mushroom, 10g Dried Tangerine Peel, 20g North and South Apricot Kernels, 3 Coconut Date; simmer for 2 hours with a moderate flame, add salt to taste.
Benefits: Nourishes Yin, moistens lungs, smoothens Qi, transforms phlegm.