The final blast of winter in Central Kentucky has been a doozy! But hallelujah, spring is coming on March 20th! From a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective, there are two meridians or channels that are related to spring-time, specifically, the Gall-Bladder & Liver.
Now, suspend what you "know" about the Gall-Bladder & Liver according to Western knowledge of the body & be open to an older viewpoint of how these influence us systemically.
These two channels share a paired relationship in TCM, so often when one is imbalanced, the other follows. Since both of these channels are related to spring-time, they are also associated with the color green - as all the plants begin to bud and return to life. As such, green foods and spices are great for managing or "regulating" the energy of the Gall-Bladder & Liver. This is an especially great time to stir-fry lots of broccoli, kale, and any other green veggies. Also, a touch of lime, parsley or cilantro for flavor will really make your Liver sing! I personally enjoy sparkling water with a few slices of fresh lime. As the weather heats up, peppermint tea will become an appropriate beverage, just avoid it if you tend to feel cold.
This time of year, feelings of frustration, angst or being "cooped up" are extremely common. There's a reason why spring cleaning is a thing; as our Gall-Bladder & Liver start to run the show during spring, we want to clean, organize, & start a-new. These two channels LOVE movement & dislike resting on our laurels. The Liver has plans & it wants YOU to make them happen. Ever notice how great you feel after going out for a walk in the fresh, spring air? That's because exercise and movement PROPEL the energy related to the Gall-Bladder & Liver. So, while it's important to always get enough exercise, it's especially relevant this time of year. Go for a walk, jump rope in your driveway, mow the lawn, or spend some time weeding your garden.
Additionally, this is a great time to clear the energy of winter, which was about rejuvenation and hibernation. Clean out your closets, re-organize, make a "bucket list" for the rest of the year, or start a new hobby or project you've always wanted to try. Spring, in my opinion, is a better time to start implementing fresh ideas in the physical realm vs. the New Year, when we are still in the quiet, restorative time of year. Also, understand that physically, any time we create space - or a vacuum - we are allowing room that can be filled with something new! If your closet is already stuffed to the gills with clothes, does that allow space for anything new? If your dance card is already booked, how will a new experience find you? Look within all aspects of your life where you can either make physical or virtual room for new or desired things.
Chinese medicine also ascribes specific times of day to each of the channels. In this case, the Gall-Bladder is most active between 11pm - 1am and flows into the Liver, which becomes active between 1am - 3am. If you find yourself commonly waking up, restless or dreaming excessively between 1am and 3am, we know that there is an imbalance happening in the Liver channel and the same would apply if you were wide awake between 11pm - 1am. This is also why maintaining a sleep schedule that includes being asleep around or before 10pm is important; being awake regularly during the height of Gall-Bladder/Liver time can easily agitate both of these channels, especially the Liver.
Some issues seen in the spring-time, which are commonly (though not always - there are not many absolutes in Chinese medicine) associated with the Gall-Bladder & Liver include: migraines, headaches in the temples or top of the head, sciatica and hip pain, i.t. band pain, itching & skin disorders, anemia & fatigue, digestive complaints, frustration, anxiety, inability to deal with stressful situations, an inability to make decisions, & hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture & herbal medicine can help resolve these issues quickly & effectively. Change of season is the PERFECT time to come-in for a tune-up treatment or immune-booster if you're someone who always gets sick when the seasons change.
Check out this cool video (Warning: anatomically correct models shown if you're sensitive to body parts) that shows the pathway of the Gall-Bladder channel. If you notice, it begins near the corner of the eye and runs along the temples, through the body and ends at the feet. This is one explanation why a headache in the temples is related to the Gall-Bladder, & can be treated with acupuncture points on the Gall-Bladder channel on the top of the foot.
Get out there and enjoy the spring & here's to March Madness (I can help you manage the mental - crazies from your bracket too!) - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.