As a group of complementary health practitioners, we have been invited by Bee’s Pantry to share our own tips and advice on the elements of Spring and what this season brings, as it is a time to renew our energy and revitalise our systems.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) all of the seasons of the year will impact on our health and our energy in different ways. There are traditionally five elements and seasons; Spring is represented by the element of wood and relates to the morning and the sunrise. Characterised by renewal and upward and outward energy and growth, it gives us a connection to the future and the flexibility to plan and design in all areas of our lives. Spring is a fantastic time to wake up, clear out the old and start new projects.
The element of wood also relates to the liver, the gallbladder, tendons and joints. The liver helps us neutralise poisons – both physical and emotional. As Spring is the time of renewal, the liver can become overburdened but there are great natural tonics to help clear the blockages. Artichokes, avocados and broccoli are wonderful liver tonics, as are apples and beetroot, which can be juiced to make a delicious drink. Add carrots and a little ginger for extra immune support. Our skin and kidneys are vital in the cleansing and elimination process and herbs such as Parsley and Celery Seed are well documented cleansing tonics. Spring detox herbs include Cleavers (also known as Sticky Willy) with their long tendrils of tiny green leaves that stick tenaciously to your clothes. They can be juiced and eaten as a support to the lymphatic system and are useful for itchy skin conditions too.
To lift mood and boost energy levels, fresh air enables our 'Liver Qi' to flow and replenish. Why not enjoy a walk in nature, contacting with its vibrant green earthiness and sense of renewal which is blooming everywhere? One ideal site is Ashridge, only 27 miles from the centre of London, these stunning beech woodlands in the heart of the Chilterns are where you will find the most gorgeous bluebells – a true assault on your senses!
Birth and New beginnings
A big part of our work is supporting women through pregnancy and birth and over the last couple of months we have each had the pleasure of sharing the wonderful joy new motherhood brings. Birth can bring a huge nutrient drain on your body so it’s important to replenish these nutrients. One specific nutrient which is crucial for your baby’s brain and nervous system development is the Omega-3 fatty acids. During the third trimester, stores of omega-3 in the mother can become depleted as the baby develops. These essential fatty acids also help to improve blood flow in the brain, reduce inflammation and regulate immune function. There is some evidence as well that a low omega-3 fatty acid status in the mother may also contribute to Post Natal Depression, so maintaining good levels of these fats could help to prevent this. Try to consume at least a couple of portions of oily fish every week; salmon is an obvious source but there are mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring (or kipper), trout and fresh tuna to choose from too.
Highly nutritious, the prickly plant is often more abundant in the Spring and can be found everywhere. It is a natural cleanse that removes metabolic wastes and is both gentle and stimulating on the lymph system. All parts of the nettle plant are used and it is available in a wide variety of medicines ranging from dried leaf, to ointments, tinctures, homeopathic remedies and herbal extracts or, you could even make your own tonics and dishes. You can cook nettles and eat them as you would steamed spinach, their taste and appearance are similar too. Nettles are a healthy and tasty addition to scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups. You also can juice nettles and combine the juice with other fresh juices, such as carrot or apple juice or make some homemade nettle tea, click here for a great simple recipe.
A cure for arthritis:
Nettle leaf is used to treat painful symptoms of arthritis, gout, rheumatism. Soft tissue conditions such as fibromyalgia and tendonitis can experience relief from drinking a cup of nettle tea or eating stewed nettle leaves daily. Its diuretic action alkalizes and releases uric acid from the joints of gout patients eliminating pain.
Pregnancy, Birth, Postnatally:
Nettle is high in iron making it excellent for combating anemia and fatigue. It supports the liver and the female hormonal system. Its astringency tones and prepares the uterus while the high nutrient content feeds your tissues, relaxes aching muscles, and speeds the removal of metabolic waste products, not to mention shrinking those ankles in the last trimester.
Nettles have a supportive effect on the adrenals that can help you to maintain steady energy and spirits through this demanding physiologic process. Once your baby is in your arms, Nettle Tea will supply you with the nutrients to produce ample, nutritious milk. Nettle Tea is also very nourishing but it is calming at the same time. Its deep green chlorophyll helps create strong rich blood which strengthens a woman’s vitality. Since nettles are a calming and restorative herb, they are a great choice as part of a natural treatment for postpartum fatigue and postpartum anxiety. The herb is full of vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur.
An aid for those allergies:
Research has proven that nettles help to reduce sneezing and itching suffered by people susceptible to hay fever. This is mostly due to the nettles’ ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen. Finally for those of us with allergies, Spring is also a wake up call for our immune systems. The ever-changing weather and excess pollen leaves the allergy-ridden population with running noses and sore throats when not prepared. If you click here you can find a short little self help treatment that can help relieve those sinus and hayfever symptoms and something you can try at home.
Hope you enjoy our insights and look forward to our next edition in the Summer.
From all of us at The Health Circle
A virtual clinic of experienced complementary health practitioners, all based in south west London. With more than 70 years of practitioner experience, we support one another in our joint aim of providing health support for our clients and the wider community. Please visit us at www.thehealthcircle.co.uk