Diet for Beginning of Spring 立春

As previously mentioned the Beginning of Spring is a time of continued growth of Yang Qi. Spring is the time associated with the Wood phase and the Liver, and the Liver is a Yang viscera (with Heart being the other Yang viscera). The phase for Beginning of Spring is “Li chun yang gan shun tian shi, qu chu ji bing bao jian kang” – “At the beginning of Spring nourishing the Liver means to following the timing of Heaven, expel and rid yourself of disease and protect your health.” Diet recommendations at the Beginning of Spring thus are geared to help Liver. 

As a general rule this is the time to consume foods that help maintain normal Liver function, especially the Yang of Liver. Since the Liver governs free coursing, eating mildly acrid and warm foods will accentuate and support this function. For example, appropriate foods this time of year include scallions, leeks, chives, cilantro, and garlic.  Here is another phrase for this time of year: “Duo chi jiu cai chao rou si, yang hu gan yang zhu sheng fa” – “Eat a lot of leeks and pork to nourish and protect the Liver yang and develop the nature of birth.”  In the Huang Di Nei Jing the Spring is associated with the term “sheng 生,” or “birth.” This is the same “sheng” as in, for example, Sheng Jiang – fresh (or living) ginger. One recipe utilizes leeks to warm and move the Liver yang. Take 100g of leeks and 50g of very thin pork strips. Shred the leeks and then stirfry with the pork in cooking oil, adding soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. This dish nourishes the Liver and protects the Yang. 

Patients with chronic Liver fire also should take care this seasonal node. A traditional Beginning of Spring drink for these patients is Yin Chen Da Zao Tang 茵陳大棗湯. For this drink take 20g of Yin Chen Hao and 30g of Da Zao. Place in a pot with 200ml water. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Separate into 2 doses and drink in the morning and evening. This formula benefits qi, generates fluids, and protects the Liver.

Although the weather is still cold, the days are getting longer. Fairly soon the snow will be gone and everything will be bursting forth with new life. Even though today Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, Yang Qi is slowly on the return!