Spring relates to element Wood. To element Wood also relate the color green, and the organ Liver. The green color has an intense cleansing, moving and tonifying effect on the Liver. Thus during spring the dominant color is green as it is the color that helps restore and rejuvenate the Liver (to learn about the Liver from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine visit the Physiology chapter)
In the spring season green foods grow to cleanse the Liver from the excessive fat heavy foods, consumed during winter. Young plants and fresh greens such as spinach and lettuce are wonderful Liver cleansing and Liver nourishing plants. Another green plant that grows in the spring and is picked by many cultures while it is young and fresh is nettle. Although nettle should be gathered with hand gloves because it stings, when cooked it becomes mild and has a pleasant pungent taste. Its major quality is to cleanse the Liver and nourish Liver blood. It is cooked and simmered just like spinach.
Another green food used by some cultures to cleanse the body is fresh green onions and green garlic. A week long daily dose of raw onions and garlic is considered to be a remedy for expelling parasites.(1)
Eating raw foods in the spring is considered to have an overall renewing effect on the body.(1) Being raw these foods have naturally cooling effect, which is healthy after consuming warm and hot foods throughout the winter season. Nevertheless the consumption of raw foods should not continue for longer periods of time namely because of their cooling properties, which if taken excessively may slow down the digestion and its transformative function.
On a vital level the heavy fatty foods ingested during the winter tend to stagnate the Qi of the Liver resulting in Liver Qi stagnation. The spring depression that so many people experience during spring season is outcome of Liver Qi stagnation. Symptoms include low energy, tiredness, apathy, lack of joy, mood changes, headaches, etc. In such cases green pungent cooking herbs, which have dispersing and moving quality, are good to be added to the diet. Such are basil, dill, bay leaf and rosemary. (1) Peppermint is a great spicy cool herb that cleanses the Liver and moves stagnated Liver Qi. Just like the raw foods, though, peppermint should not be used for long periods of time and during the cold seasons because it may slow down the digestion.
Another great spring food are sprouts. Spring being the first season of the year represents youth; so do sprouts, which are the youth of the plant. Thus sprouts are great spring food for body renewal and the health rebirth that begins in the season spring. (1)
(1) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books
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