Seasonal Attunement for Spring

Apr 22, 2024

As winter ends and we prepare for the season ahead we can remind ourselves how exciting this time of the year is – we made it! Spring is finally here! A change in seasons from winter to spring is more than just a time for cleaning all the nooks and crannies of your home and tidying up your outdoor spaces. Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. It is an important time to focus on giving our body a ‘tune-up’ by clearing out the congestion and stagnation that can happen over the winter season. According to Taoist Tonic Herbalism, to realize true robust ‘health’ we must live in harmony with our surroundings – with the seasons, with our environment – and simply put, with nature. One way to accomplish this is to keep a few ‘key points’ for each season in mind and follow what the ancients called Seasonal Attunement theory.

The practice of seasonal attunement provides us with a more directed approach to supporting our health by guiding us in consuming the most beneficial foods/herbs/mushrooms and conducting the best activities (lifestyle routines) that bring us into closer alignment with nature and its related organ system for that time of year.
This is one of the most important aspects of seasonal attunement theory, understanding that each season is also associated with specific organs of the body. Our organs follow the rhythm of our circadian biology seasonally, and when it’s seasonally appropriate for that specific organ system, we must do what we can to support those organs to optimize our health. Spring in known as ‘Liver Season.’

It is believed that when we are in attunement with the cycle of the seasons, we naturally bring the body into a state of balance and harmony, transcending states of ‘dis-ease,’ towards perfect states of ‘ease.’

The liver promotes renewal on a cellular level by clearing out accumulated waste and toxins. Supporting the liver in springtime, will help make sure these detoxification pathways stay in good shape not only in spring, but for the coming year ahead. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is known as the organ of 100 dis-eases – meaning if your liver is out of balance it can manifest as many ailments. The Liver is very important and plays a large role in our health, it is responsible for several hundred separate and distinct functions, and according to herbal tradition, is said to govern our health more than any other organ.

Food taste and flavours associated with spring should focus on sour, bitter and astringent which help to cleanse and cool the liver and help facilitate adequate release of bile. The colour said to be associated with spring is green, so eating leafy greens like romaine, sprouts, arugula, and dandelion can be very beneficial this time of year. A
good rule of thumb is if mother nature is providing a food at a certain time of year – or that food comes into ‘season’ – it’s usually excellent for that time of year.

Tonic foods and herbs are an easy and foundational way to help attune your body to the current season. Some of the best tonic food herbs for spring include nourishing berries such as Schizandra berry, which has a long history of treating poor liver function because of its ability to boost various liver detoxifying enzymes. While its astringent/sour flavour will help kick start bile flow for the day, Schizandra is also traditionally known to help support immunity, increase energy, circulation, and help relieve stress.

Sea buckthorn berries, which are a sweet & sour berry known to help fight fatigue and boost energy, are lovely morning tonic. With flavonoids and essential Omega-7 fatty acids, Sea buckthorn has traditionally been known to help liver disorders by regulating liver enzymes and helping block the effects of toxic substances while reducing Liver ‘stiffness’ and scarring.

Delicious bitter-sweet tea infusions such as Gynostemma, are also an amazing addition to your spring routine due to its incredible saponin content. Saponins are soap like molecules that can act as an internal solvent helping dissolve fatty liver deposits, while also known to help rid the bodies of toxins, microbes and endotoxins within the digestive system.

One of the most amazing superfoods for spring is Beets! Beets are traditionally known as a gentle blood-cleanser helping support the liver. Rich in betaine, beets have shown some positive effects in supporting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

And no well-rounded seasonal approach would be complete without medicinal mushrooms. A quintessential tonic food, certain mushrooms are known to help support the body by bringing coherence and balance to organ systems and physiological function. Mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Shiitake and Reishi mushroom have displayed hepatoprotective properties, suggesting that they may work to protect the liver from exposure to toxic substances enhancing function.

Article by Derek Fleming and Angela Bewick of New Earth Organics

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