Springtime Health


purple petal flower close-up photo

Spring is here with its promise of optimism, joy, regeneration, and rebirth. So, welcome her, by getting outside, shaking off the heaviness of what feels like a most protracted winter.

Take back your power to live with Joy! To quote the poet Mary Oliver:

Come to the woods and stand with me in the sunshine beneath the trees and watch the bluebirds diving for insects. Watch them peeking into nest holes the woodpeckers carved years ago. Listen to the cry woodpeckers. Let it lift your heart. Let it still your busy feet and let it still your worried mind. Listen with everything you own… Take your cue from the blackbird who has no faith in the future but who builds the future, nevertheless. The world is shivering into possibility….- Margaret Renkl

In Chinese medicine, Spring is governed by the element of Wood, the element of growth and change. It’s like that dandelion sprouting upward from the ground; there is a rambunctious, upward, focused, and quacking energy.

The liver is the organ of Spring in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It maintains the flow of the life force through your body. The liver plays a role in our ability to plan and the gallbladder (a storage organ for the bile produced in the liver) is an organ of “courage or gall”.  We now know that 3-pound liver has over 500 jobs to support your body. It:

  • Detoxes through a very detailed phase I and phase II process which supports removal of external outside toxins, such as medications, environmental toxins in food and the air and internal clearance of hormones and neurotransmitters (such as estrogen metabolism and clearance).
  •  Activates Vitamin D and mitochondria (energy metabolism)
  • Acts as a precursor to cholesterol; and, yes, we need healthy cholesterols to make the right balance of cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Thus, the liver supports our hormone production.
  • Keeps blood sugar in balance
  • Protects our sleep; if the liver is imbalanced, we tend to wake between 1 am and 3 am
  • Produces the right amount of triglycerides for energy. If triglycerides, as measured in our blood, are too high, it reflects that we are not maintaining balanced blood sugar.
  •  Plays a role in blood clotting
  • Cross talks with our gut microbiome to support our mitochondria in our energy metabolism
  • Supports bile production which binds and emulsifies fats and ushers toxins out of our body; this bile also supports our immune systems.

Reflects the health of our eyes

So, this is the time of year to dig deep on simple liver support. The natural time to give it the most support is in this window of Spring, where we are moving with the rhythms of nature by doing so. Yes, our bodies are overwhelmed with toxins physically and emotionally at a level that is unprecedented in the history of the human species. But let us come to this time of lightning and cleansing with a Spirit of joy and play. Because no matter what level we can do this, if we attempt to detox this Spring, we will be better for it.

Food is so powerful in supporting the liver and Cleansing for Spring:

Sugar creates fatty deposits in the liver. Sugar is not a basic food group.

So not having it in your cart or in your budget is a huge money saver and takes back your power and health. Many people say to me that they can’t afford to eat organic, but I think the key is that no one can afford to eat foods with added sugars, such as sugary processed baked goods or foods with high fructose corn syrup. These foods directly lower the lifespan and make you feel unwell each day. Take them out of your budget. Take back your power from the big Food business that is destroying your health with one of the most addictive substances, sugar.

Greens are a powerful answer in Spring:green apple fruit in clear glass cup

Chlorophyll is rich in green plants. It is a four-ring structure, like hemoglobin in our blood, and chlorophyll is built around magnesium. So, make a big plate of green veggies a part of each day: sauté greens for breakfast, add them to smoothies, make delicious salads, grow them in your garden, and support a local CSA. If you can, add green powders such as spirulina or moringa to your smoothie or drink them with warm water.  And search out wild harvesting in areas that have not been fertilized and with a knowledgeable friend to show you the green chickweed and nettles, if you haven’t yet found it; make green pestos or edamame hummus; and liberally eat among the entire cabbage family, which supports detoxification pathways in the liver.

Time restricted eating. Most people benefit by not eating in a window of 12 to 13 hours, which supports balanced blood sugars and metabolism. For all men and post-menopausal women, eating in a window of 6 to 8 hours a day provides even more benefits as does making most of those hours start earlier in the day. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks for your body to adjust to time-restricted eating, but once you do, you will be less hungry in the evening and also have markedly balanced blood sugars. Check out The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Feng

Sour and bitter is the flavor of Spring.

Thus, starting the day with warm lemon or lime water not only feels good, but supports bile production.

Add bitters to your diet. Bitters support bile production by the liver and when we have enough bile, we have an usher to remove toxins out of our body. We all have favorite bitters in our lives such as coffee, beer and dark chocolate. But I am suggesting expanding your palate.


Increase immunity through their support of bile production

Strengthen the body’s digestive response: supporting stomach acid and gastric motility, decreasing gas and bloating, and gastric reflex.

Provide a gentle liver detox

Stimulate the vagus nerve, putting us in the “rest and digest” mode

Decrease carb and sugar cravings which helps to reframe our relationship with food

Supports beautiful skin

Where to began on your “bitter” journey:

  •       Dandelion root tea;  or, you can harvest your own dandelion roots in unsprayed areas as well.
  •       Bitter salads such as watercress or arugula, with lemon and olive oil are better meals. With the lemon, you are also activating that sour taste.
  •       Ginger is a warming bitter that can also be drunk before meals
  •       Chamomile tea is a delicious night-time bitter that calms the body.
  •       Urban Moonshine a New England company makes beautiful bitter tinctures (you can add a ½ teaspoon to water before your two biggest meals). This stimulates bile production and calms the vagus nerves. https://www.urbanmoonshine.com/pages/about-bitters
  •       Or, let me design a bitter tincture of you. Some favorite herbs, I use in my bitter tinctures: blue vervain, schisandra, dandelion root, burdock root, motherwort, and wood betony, to name a few.

Other detoxifying foods for Spring:

The goal with Spring is to lighten up, for the heavier foods that sustained us through winter. Bring on board in addition to the greens and bitters: radishes, mung bean sprouts, cucumbers, celery, parsley, cilantro, millet and mushrooms, which are loaded with fiber and beta-glucans which strong immune boosters. Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, broccoli sprouts are all sulfur rich and support detox pathways.

Favorite Spring herbs:

Each of these herbs has a long-term traditional use which has been validated by current research. And, they are easy adjuncts into a vital, health filled Spring.

Schisandra Berry. This beautiful 5 taste berry can be consumed as a tea, tincture or powder providing gentle protection of the liver, antioxidant benefits and acting as a calming adaptogen.  As such it strengthens the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and promotes vitality, enhances cognitive function and mental clarity while providing resistance to stress. It is an immune amphoteric, re-balancing the immune system to the optimal individual level.  It normalizes the nervous system; increases physical performance and endurance; promotes recovery after surgery and enhances athletic performance. In its hepatoprotective role, it improves liver detoxification functions and enhances environmental, viral or drug-induced damage.

purple flower in tilt shift lensMilk thistle seeds ground. Get an inexpensive coffee grinder and grind up some milk thistle seeds and perhaps combine them in the grinding with flax seeds – enough for at least 1 to 2 tablespoons a day. Grind a week’s supply and store them in the fridge to prevent rancidity. Add them to organic applesauce. Put them on top of gluten free oatmeal with berries, put them in smoothies. Why? Milk thistle has been well researched to be hepatoprotective, to protect your liver. Flax seeds are a rich source of fiber helping you to move toxins out of your colon. The perfect Spring cleanse support.

Dandelion root. Works on the phase II glucuronidation pathway in the liver supporting enzymatic processes there as well as supporting NRf 2 which is important in cell signaling

Turmeric root. The master liver cleanser and anti-inflammatory. Include golden milk drinks as part of your week or include as a wonderful spice.

Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, broccoli sprouts, brussel are all sulfur rich and support detox pathways.

Organic Green Tea. Loaded with healthful antioxidants that support the liver; a bit of caffeine, but also the amino acid L-theanine that allows us to feel calm. And there are so many varieties, flavors and ways to enjoy it.

And the Spring lifestyle:

Great the day, open the window, savor the sound of the birds, unclutter and clear your environment

Address frustration and past anger that may arise at this time a year by calling in the breath and observing and noting without being attached

Sleep hygiene: It’s free; it is cheaper than “health insurance” or doctor’s visits and it has so many benefits. Gallbladder time is 11 pm to 1 am and liver time is 1 am to 3 am. Be soundly asleep during those time periods in a darkened cool peaceful room with no electronic devices

Support drainage pathways, to get those toxins to move out:

Keep all exits open: sweat, “poop”, “pee”, deep breathing, with:


Dry brushing

3 minutes of steaming hot water; filled by 30 seconds of freezing cold in the shower for 3 times

Yogic twists

Yogic cat cows

Abhyanga – oil message before the shower which stimulates the movement of lymphatic tissue.  https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/lifestyle/self-oil-massage/

Castor oil packs to the liver 20 minutes – 3 nights a week. https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/uploads/Elements_of_Ayurveda_Castor_Oil_Pack.pdf

Brisk walking outside – with intervals of jogging or running. Take your liver for a walk after each meal for at least 10 minutes. That will add up for your body. .

Breath of fire or Bellows Breath. https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/yoga/bhastrika-pranayama/

Other supplements that support detoxification:

–          Activated B vitamins

–          Magnesium

–          Lipoatrophic complexes with methionine

–          N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

–          Quercetin

–          Probiotics

My favorite Passiflora Spring Cleanse (rich in Nettles Leaf, Burdock Root and Dandelion) and Passiflora Joy Tea (rich in calendula and linden):Let’s have tea. Let’s have galaxies, let’s have earthworms, let’s have sorrow and tenderness and let us pour and receive the bottomless mercy that life has for our foolishness, our failures and our most secret longings. In return, let us forgive the world for being the world, let us allow all things to be forgiven, to be blessed, just for a moment, jut for the duration of a cup of tea. -Joan Sutherland

So find a friend or a moment of solitude, but mostly find JOY in this Spring. Because our path to wellness should be JOY-FILLED and contact me at passifloraholistichealth@gmail.com, if you would like support for your own personalized Spring journey.

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