As we begin to close out winter, the days begin to get longer, but the temperature can ebb and flow from 20’s to 40’s, sometimes rain and/or snow. Our ancestors found this time of year difficult as the food supplies were sparse, even wild animals find this time of year difficult. You might notice that the Winter Farmers Market is starting to get sparse as well. You’ll find more sprouts and pea shoots, maybe some root veggies and greens, but for the most part, there’s not much to choose from. Sauerkraut is popular right now.
Internally, our body begins to release fats that were stored over the winter to keep us warm. However, our blood and liver typically remain stagnant from the cold temperatures. Stagnation and congestion also affects the gall bladder, which is often why there is a rise in gall bladder attacks in the early spring. You may experience a loss of appetite and sticky stools this time of the year, which are all a sign of the body shedding fat.
Our emotions can also be impacted this during this time of year leaving you feeling aggravated, frustrated or even bitter. This is another sign that your body is preparing for spring by releasing stored winter fats, which congest the liver.
Spring becomes a time of fasting, from the Christian observance of Lent to Native American traditions. Spring fasting help cleanse the blood and east the burdens on the gall bladder after a long winter of fatty, heavy foods. The body starts a natural cleanse cycle in February. Some of the symptoms of this process might be looser stools, mild headaches or insomnia, and feelings of frustration. Warm days will especially aggravate these cleansing symptoms, which may subside on late winter cold spells. This is why we recommend a Spring cleanse. The cleanse is designed to support the body in the cleansing cycle by eating specially designed meals that ease digestion and support the body through the detox cycle.
Cholagogues are a good addition to your diet during the spring. Cholagogues release bile and cleanse the liver. Since bile is fatty and the primary pathway for cholesterol metabolism, releasing bile also reduces triglyceride levels in the blood. Cholagogues include anything bitter or sour. Some examples include beets, dandelion greens, lemon, vinegar, aloe vera just to name a few.
You may notice your skin is puffier this time of year. Puffy skin implies lymphatic stagnation, inflammation, and edema, overall a Kapha condition in Ayurveda and dampness in Chinese medicine. Possible causes include poor circulation, an allergen, and toxins. Kapha lymph is naturally thick & gooey. This type of lymph doesn’t drain very well therefore leaving the skin swollen. Increasing circulation through vigorous movement, dry brushing, self-massage with warm oil, or a Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage are some lifestyle recommendations. Pungent taste like cumin also helps to increase your circulation for cleansing. Cumin is an ideal spice offering natural warmth and dryness. Kapha and Vata types can break out the cayenne and chilis to fire up digestion and shake off any remaining winter sluggishness. Turmeric also helps to improve circulation and thin the blood, which cleanses the lymphatic through its warming and cleansing properties. It helps to move the blood, dries dampness and increases heat.
Adding bitters (dandelions, leafy greens, spinach, arugula) and sour tastes to your meals helps to cleanse the liver. However, on colder days you’ll want to continue eating your root veggies (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips). As we approach Valentines Day, buy your sweetheart dark chocolate vs milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate the more bitter the taste.
Hang in there SPRING IS ON IT’S WAY! Continue to nourish yourself and help your body through this season with the tips mentioned above. Have questions or are interested in signing up for the Spring Cleanse, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406/600-7267.