We are fast approaching the Spring Equinox, and that awakening was felt harshly in this part of Vacationland over the weekend. Waves billowed easily over sea walls. Out in the farmland the trees had to grip the earth a little bit tighter and lean into the wind. The Spring transition in particular tends to trumpet its presence, crying loudly as the ice cracks and animals are born. Even in places where the seasons aren't so sharply segmented, people have historically understood that there were parts of the year where their rhythm would change and their bodies would need some additional support. This is part of why I love sharing some of my personal Springtime strategies, because it really sets individuals up for a self-care plan for any season transition. Here are some of my favorites:
1) Support Your Organs of Elimination: This is a great time of year to really ensure that your body is effectively eliminating wastes. Metabolically, you will shift as your diet changes and your immune system is put on high alert for new environmental allergens. That means, it's really important to support the digestive tract (where a large percentage of your immune system lives) and optimize its ability to put out the trash. Some changes to integrate into the diet would be to increase soluble fiber amounts to 25-30 grams/day. This can look like incorporating ground chia or flax seed, oatmeal, or mucilaginous seaweed concoctions. This is also a great time to tune into the flavors of the season. The tender green "wild salads"that grow in Spring, like new dandelion greens, yellow dock leaflets, etc have a bitter bite to them that stimulates your digestive system and ensures good bowel function. We also tend to get excited about warmer weather and eating cooler foods, but I always recommend that during the transitionary mud season here in the Northeast, to still take it easy on the gut by having plenty of stocks, stews, and cooked foods to balance anything cold and raw.
2) Protect Your Wind Gate: There is a lovely seasonal consideration in Traditional Chinese Medicine of covering the "wind gate." This area extends from the base of the skull to down between your shoulder blades, and it can most effectively be cozied up and tended by wearing scarves, applying heat packs, and getting body work done to address muscular tension. TCM practitioners believe(d) that the wind gate was the place through which pathogens and harmful excesses would enter the body. In the Western world, we would describe this much less poetically as being a space where we have posterior chains of lymph nodes (base of skull and neck) tied up in immune function, but it is also the place where we tend to carry a lot of emotional tension. So, be sure to lend your wind gate a bit of extra love this Spring.
3) Contrast Showers: Anyone that has ever worked with me has probably been invited to use daily contrast showers as a way to bring down inflammation and regulate immune status. Now more than ever, it is important to keep the lymphatics going to manage how your body responds to the airborne offerings of the natural world. Basic rule of thumb for a contrast shower: Begin with a hot shower, allowing your body to warm up for at least a minute and a half. Then transition to as cold as you are able to manage/stand for 30 seconds. Return to the hot for 1.5 minutes, then back to 30 seconds cold. Typically, we want to complete 3 cycles, ending on a cold. Gift yourself a comforting friction rub with a soft towel when you're all done.
4) Cleavers Tea: Whenever I think of Springtime lymphatic support, I think of cleavers. It's flavor is nourishing and grass-like, and Galium aparine greatly assists with lymphatic mobilization and can be beneficial as a daily cup of tea through Spring transition. It's one of my go-to herbs to help reduce inflammation and has a diuretic effect, so be sure to rehydrate frequently with its use. Be more cautious of use if you are concurrently using diuretics or have kidney issues and as always, consult your own provider before starting new regimens.
I can't wait to talk about this and other lymphatic support herbs in my special topics class Potions for Systems: Lovely Lymphatics on March 15. You're all invited to come and join the conversation. If you register and let me know you are bringing a friend, you'll receive 20% off your tuition (message me ahead and I'll give you the discount code). If your friend has never been to one of my classes before, they will get 20% off their tuition as well, so be sure to bring your buddies. The more the merrier! Learn more and REGISTER HERE.
I hope you all have an excellent week, and I look forward to seeing you at some of the upcoming events!