“Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.
Even though winter still lingers for a few weeks more, in March we always begin to dream of spring. At least that’s what happens in cold and snowy Canada where I live. The occasional days of comparative warmth, the slightly longer days, the warm sun suddenly peaking out from behind the clouds, these things always bring an impromptu smile to my lips. And more than that, my heart begins to yearn, to positively ache, for spring. After persevering through this particularly difficult winter, my heart yearns even more than it usually does.
Spring has been relentless in its teasing this year. The periods of thaw have been fewer and farther between. When they do occur, it is only for a day or two, and then winter comes back to reclaim its territory with a vengeance. Temperatures have remained stubbornly low for protracted periods, and there hasn’t been this much snowfall in Toronto for close to twenty years. Spring seems to be hanging back in the sidelines, shyly delaying its entrance. But even as I impatiently wait for spring to finally gather enough courage to hit the stage, I am encouraged by the fact that spring will indeed come. That is a promise. The snows will melt. The trees will bud once again. The sun will smile on us, and the grass will begin to grow.
Having lived through these seasonal cycles for generations upon generations, our bodies respond to these weather cycles too. As winter’s cold begins to turn away from us, we no longer feel the need to eat hearty stews and heavy, starchy meals. Just as the snow begins to melt, our bodies also begin to thaw. And as our bodies thaw, they desire movement, just as a frozen river gradually gives way to the burbling of a steadily growing, trickling stream.
The organ in our body which is most responsible for movement is the liver, which is why spring is known as peak liver time. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is the organ which spreads qi, or energy, throughout our bodies. If there is still too much accumulation from the winter, too much heavy foods from the cold winter days, then it will be as if our livers are still frozen. There is too much accumulation there for qi to move properly, which is why spring is an excellent time to do some liver and gallbladder cleansing. We need to soften the accumulations that have gathered in our liver during those cold, winter months and release them so that energy can dance its way through our bodies again, making us hum with life.
The main herb in our Chinese Bitters tincture, Chinese gentian, is known for its ability to soften hardened congestion in the ducts of your liver and begin to release it, making new openings in your liver for energy to flow. After retaining a lot of congested bile in your liver for many months or even years, people can begin to feel heavy and sluggish, their brain can start to feel dull, they can begin to feel pain in their right side, and have digestive difficulties like bloating, gas, or constipation. And they can also have a tendency to become irritable or angry easily.
When our customers begin to use our Chinese Bitters tincture, they are often surprised at how much better they feel. They feel lighter and happier, their pain begins to go away, their thinking is clearer, their digestion and elimination has improved, and they have more energy and enthusiasm for life. One of our customers told us that after cleansing her liver with our Chinese Bitters tincture and doing some liver and gallbladder flushing, she felt as if she could skip for joy.
In these ways, we can see that internal stagnation doesn’t just show itself solely in our physical symptoms. Because our minds and bodies are so intricately connected, our mental condition is influenced by liver congestion as well. Depression, anger, irritability, and frustration are stagnant emotions. In each of these emotions, our minds are rebelling against a seeming inability of our body, or our life circumstances, to move and change. In the case of frustration, we believe that an action can be taken to resolve our problems, but we just can’t seem to figure out what it is.
With anger and irritability, we may know, or at least think we know what action needs to be taken, but for some reason or other, we are blocked from acting on it. And with depression, we begin to feel that there is no longer any action that can possibly change our lives. In all these cases, it can be downright shocking to discover that a little bit of liver and gallbladder cleansing can suddenly make our personal situations seem more manageable. Suddenly, we are able to let go of these stale feelings and see new possibilities in our lives that were veiled from us before.
While we have, so far, spoken only of stagnation in the liver, stagnation can develop in the gallbladder as well. Whenever bile flow in the liver has been sluggish for some time, bile will not be able to flow well into the gallbladder either, and gallstones can tend to form out of this stagnant bile easily. This is why liver and gallbladder cleansing is always combined. Because your liver and gallbladder work so closely together, your liver will never be completely healthy as long as there are still gallstones in your gallbladder. And as long as there are any blockages to bile flow in either your liver or your gallbladder, the flow of energy throughout your body can be impeded, and the above-mentioned physical and emotional problems can result.
If you are interested in doing some spring cleaning of your internal organs this season, liver and gallbladder cleansing is the best place to start. Complete instructions for how to do a liver and gallbladder flush are outlined in the gallbladder flushing section of our website. For best results, we would recommend the use of our Liver/Gallbladder Flush 4-Pack as preparation beforehand, as the herbs in these tinctures will help to soften any hardness in your liver or gallbladder area so that it can be released and these organs can begin to “breathe” freely again.
There are often times in our lives where we feel as if our hearts have become as cold and frozen as the winter. When something of importance was taken from us, or when dreams we once had have died, we can spend months or even years in periods of heart-wrenching pain. Eventually, this pain can give way to a barrenness, a desolation of spirit, which in some ways is even worse. But just as the seasons in the world outside us inevitably change, so too does our inward situation. In little spurts, now and again, there is a thawing, and green shoots of growth will suddenly appear. A new relationship begins, an old friendship is rekindled, or a new interest is formed, and our lives begin to green up again. Spring reminds us that no matter what situation we are in, no matter how stubborn or intractable our problems, new life will be breathed into us in time. This is a promise. The enduring promise of spring.
About the author: Rebecca Wong has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.