Understanding Chinese Medicine: Spring is the time of year that our Liver energy begins to rise up and expand outwards. We start to feel more active, motivated and energetic and might even feel the need to give the house a spring clean! But, for those with imbalances in our Liver energy, this can be the time of year where Liver symptoms rise up! If Liver energy rises or we have too much energy in our heads then Migraine headaches, Vertigo, Dizziness, Nausea, Mood swings and PMS symptoms can all get worse. You may also notice yourself feeling a little more short tempered than usual or having sudden bursts of anger.
When Liver Qi gets “stuck” or blocked, we can feel stuck or blocked in many ways. This can manifest as emotional “stuckness”, inability to move forward, frustration and irritability. Other symptoms can manifest such as Joint Pain or Arthritis, Depression, Eye problems, tight muscles for example.
Shiatsu moves the energy: If any of this sounds familiar, receiving a Shiatsu treatment has a profound effect on calming the nervous system, releasing stagnation and stuck emotions and reducing stress. By giving Shiatsu around the head, neck and feet moves the Liver Qi down away from the head with gentle stretches of the body to release any stagnation.
In the meantime, these are some recommendations you can do yourself to help balance your Liver Qi.
Express your creativity: Start activities like singing, painting, dancing, sport, gardening, writing, cooking, learning to play an instrument, any group activity or interest you have a passion for that makes you smile. All these help keep your Liver energy flowing as they are a form of self-expression and enjoyment. I've started learning to play the piano which I'm really enjoying.
Move your body: Liver energy likes movement, if you have symptoms of Liver Qi stagnation this causes stiffness in the muscles and joints and problems with flexibility. Stretching exercises like yoga or practising a gentle form of moving meditation like Tai Chi or Qigong helps bring your focus back to your body and releases tension. Going out for regular walks or outdoor pursuits is one of the best ways to help your Liver.
Rest and Sleep: Resting properly at night allows our Liver to do its job better - to keep our energy and blood flowing smoothly throughout the body.
Diet recommendations: Eating dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach etc) are full of vitamins and minerals and nourish the Blood. It’s a good time to eat foods that are cooked more lightly and for less time. Reduce intake of coffee and hot, spicy foods as these can affect the Liver by stagnating Qi. Reduce intake of fatty or greasy foods if you find these hard to digest.
What's your vision: Wood energy (Liver and Gallbladder) is about your vision, creativity, decision making and planning in life. First it is felt in the heart as your passion of what you want to create and once the choice has been made, Liver energy gives us the energy to carry it through. In other words we are setting in motion our creative self expression of what we want to manifest in our lives.
Tip: Ask yourself what areas in your life you feel stuck and unhappy about and want to change, this is a great way to start to help you take your power back, move forward and feel happier.
Manage stress: We are emotional beings and anger is felt in the Liver. Sometimes we feel unable to express ourselves fully which causes longstanding feelings of repressed anger, such as resentment, frustration and irritability.
We do this either because we were taught at a young age that expressing yourself is bad or selfish and we should keep quiet or others know what’s best for us and make the decisions for us for example, all this is very disempowering but know you can change this, you have the power within you to make the changes. Shiatsu helps support you to make these changes.
The opposite of repressing emotions is to have outbursts of anger, rage and shouting aimed at others, that's why people who are really angry go red in the face. It's another way of expressing underlying or unresolved frustration and sadness.
Tip: Talking to a friend, journaling, and meditating are all ways to manage daily stresses so that they don’t build up and create bigger problems.
Other factors affecting Liver: If our emotions haven’t been expressed or addressed, a common coping mechanism could be excessive alcohol consumption or taking recreational drugs as a way for some people to feel relief from emotional symptoms. It’s used as a way of numbing out our unhappiness of how we feel inside.
The relief, however, is temporary. Instead of strengthening the body’s weaknesses so that the body learns to rebalance the energy on its own, these extreme substances cause further damage and leave the body feeling dependent on more of them to get the same feeling of relief. And remember, any extreme substance will set up further imbalance in the body, often covering up the original problem and leading eventually to more complicated physical and emotional health issues.
If you relate to or have any of the symptoms listed above or a feeling stuck and struggling to find a way forward in life, book a Shiatsu treatment and get your Liver energy moving and restore your love for life.
In the Five Element theory, an emotion corresponds to a certain internal organ. How does each emotion affect our health and wellbeing?
Learning to let go and live in the moment is the key
We hold our life in our body; everything we learn and all our emotional reactions to life's experiences are carried within us. Our emotional journey empowers us to move forward but sometimes we forget when it's time to let go and make space for new learning.
Sometimes we move on from difficult times but feel we are still reliving them. Shiatsu and Energy healing helps you release old emotions stuck in your body so you can live at your highest potential in the present.
Spring is a time for birth, new growth, regeneration and cleansing as in nature. In the Chinese Five Elements Spring is the season of the Wood element and the Liver organ system and Gall Bladder. When our Liver and Gall Bladder energy is flowing well within us we are able to make plans, organise, create, express and communicate our needs and be flexible to change in our lives. This movement is much like the branches of a tree - hence the association with Wood.
However, an imbalance in Wood energy can lead to outbursts of anger and feelings of frustration with ourselves or others that we think are holding us back which can lead to depression. A tendency to over-working, excessive responses or suppression of emotions and addictions are usually caused by a stagnation of Liver Ki.
Other symptoms may include:-
Help to move your liver energy
Movement and creativity is to be encouraged, finding an exercise that you enjoy like a yoga or dance class or join a sports team like football or badminton is a good outlet for letting go of stress or frustration. If you suffer with joint pain then Tai Chi Qigong is recommended as the movements are gentle and slow. Painting or any creative outlet will help express your individuality which is both relaxing and enjoyable to do.
What to eat
Eating fresh, new green vegetables will help support your body’s natural ability to cleanse and rebalance. Cut down on fatty foods, alcohol and coffee.
Shiatsu can help relieve symptoms
In a Shiatsu treatment, I can help you let go of the issues that are causing you to feel stuck which could be related to life choices and decisions, and my aim is to bring back balance and flow of your energy by relaxing and letting go of any emotional frustrations or pain in the body.
If you would like to book a Shiatsu session to help balance your Liver and Gall Bladder meridians and put a healthier spring in your step, then contact me today.
Some of the causes can be due to too much heat in the blood. As we age, our blood declines, our vision and memory declines and our skin and muscles dry up. So it is important to keep our body systems cooler. When we have good blood reserves this keeps the heat under control as blood cools the fire in the body.
Inflammatory disorders may also start to appear as latent heat begins to surface on the skin causing dark skin pigmentations, liver spots and moles. They are all symptoms of heat that has been trapped in the body now being released.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pigmentation issues are linked to a deficiency in the Liver, Kidneys and Spleen energies.
Emotional trauma, hereditary factors, diet and exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides and herbicides can penetrate the deepest aspect of the body (the Kidney system) causing heat.
Increase your Vitamin C
Liver spots can also be a sign of Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C protects the skin from the sun. As we age, plus an accumulation of sun over the years, plus a Vitamin C deficiency all contribute to aging spots.
Cutting back on processed foods, bad fats such as hydrogenated oils, sugar and hot, spicy foods such as caffeine and alcohol will help.
Consume foods that are high in Vitamin C and eat organic as much as possible. Salads, parsley, green vegetables, apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, swiss chard, celery, soybeans, sesame oil, chicken, peppermint tea, mushrooms for example.
Understanding temperatures of food in TCM
The warming and cooling properties of a food have less to do with actual temperature, cooking temperature or spiciness, it has more to do with the foods balance and contrast among ingredients and the effect of these on the body when the food is ingested. Yin is related to cold foods and yang to hot foods.
How can Shiatsu help?
Emotional issues are detrimental to our organs, and can affect our career, relationships and health. Through the supporting and nurturing nature of Shiatsu, I can help you let go of emotional issues that may be affecting your health and wellbeing and strengthen the Yin energies in the body.
Tiredness, exhaustion and insomnia are some of the most common stress-related symptoms that affect our health, causing nervous fatigue brought on by continued stress. Our bodies naturally cope with short periods of anxiety or worry as long as we’re able to rest and recover afterwards - but how many of us have time to rest and fully recover?
Our adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. They secrete a number of hormones that help regulate the body including adrenaline which rapidly prepares our body to spring into action in stressful situations. When they become overworked they produce excess levels of cortisol as a reaction to the body’s fight or flight response. This prevents the adrenal glands from producing other hormones we need to live.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), adrenal fatigue is seen as a deficiency in the Kidney energy. Kidney energy or Kidney Chi gives us the impetus, willpower, stamina and strength needed to carry out our everyday activities. It is the catalyst for every energetic reaction in our body, when our Kidney Chi is low our whole body is starved of energy.
How we store and use our energy
Our kidneys are like a rechargeable battery... when a battery is being recharged it builds up a store of energy to be used later when needed. Similar to a battery, the stored energy in our kidneys is used throughout our everyday activities and recharged when we relax, rest and sleep.
When we feel tired but continue to push ourselves, we may have a coffee or other energy drink in the hope that it will give us more energy. This is only a temporary energy boost and instead depletes our energy stores even more. If we don’t take time out to restore and replenish our energy levels, over time our batteries become drained to the point where our body struggles to sustain us.
Exhaustion can cause difficulty sleeping as our internal battery has become so drained it has lost its storage capacity. It can’t hold an energy charge anymore, ending up with us feeling tired and unable to relax. The ability to relax and the ability to feel energised go together.
Recharge your batteries with rest and relaxation
When we hold tension in the body this is a sign of fatigue, while relaxation is a sign of good energy reserves. There are a few changes we can do to help ourselves in lowering our stress levels:
• Give yourself permission to rest more by taking time out in the day especially if you work long hours.
• Reduce the intake of stimulants such as coffee especially in the afternoon and sugar intake.
• Take the pressure off yourself to get things done in the day, there is always tomorrow.
• Ask for help and share chores at home.
• Practice moving meditation techniques such as Qigong or Tai Chi which is a series of slow movements working with the breath and helps cultivate and strengthen your own internal energy store.
• Gentle walking in nature helps decrease stress levels and helps ground us. When we allow our body to connect with the earth, we enhance our mental, physical and emotional well-being and create a more sound, clear way of thinking.
Balance and moderation in everything.
Listen to your body, if you feel tired... rest.
How Shiatsu can help
The causes of exhaustion and insomnia is different for each of us, receiving a Shiatsu treatment where emotions and symptoms can be explored in a safe and supportive way enables us to relax and allows the body to heal and let go of tension, blocked, stagnant and imbalanced energies.
I offer the time and space to explore what’s going on and bring healing to the mind, body and soul, allowing you to take control of your life and bring yourself into peace, ease and balance.