Today was so enlightening. Through my job I got to be part of an interview with an acupuncturist. Of course, I was eager to see the fella and lament about my digestive woes. Poor me, I just can’t seem to get it straight. Dairy makes me feel bloated, wheat makes me crave sugar, and it seems like an act of god to make me “regular”, if you know what I mean. I used to see and acupuncturist for this very same plight (hmm…do I see a pattern in my life), and it was always so alleviating of my symptoms.
I should have known all that he was going to say. The school where I studied nutrition had a traditional chinese medicine approach. I “know” all of this, but have forgotten some of the basics. I was so enlightened. He explained the process of how my body can still be out of whack after so long at trying hard to live the off-white way. It always baffles me how the solutions are simple : dietary changes, lifestyle, and herbal remedies. Basically, getting back to the basics.
Here’s what I learned:
Liver dominating Earth: Okay, so this is what happens when your liver chi (which is like the “General” in the army) gets too domineering and then supressed the activity of the earth element. It’s like having a boss that won’t quit asking you to do things, so you end up frazzled and burnt out.
How does this happen? So the liver is especially affected by STRESS and SUGAR. Hello!!! So, when there is a long-standing history of internalizing stress and eating sugar, liver chi goes bonkers. The result is an influence on Earth element, which is stomach, pancreas and spleen. They become deficient -they don’t work right b/c they are being suffocated by the overbearing liver. This makes one crave sugar, have a hard time digesting fats (oh, yeah, can TOTALLY relate to that, especially after a nut binge on my Hood To Coast last week). This can also manifest as low pancreatic enzyme production or low HCL production in the stomach, such as what I experience.
The plan: This is what is so cool are nutritional things and yoga poses to help this. Duh, I knew this…but totally forgot in the midst of trying too hard 🙂
- Liver is totally balanced by green things, especially cooked green veggies and spirulina/chlorophyll. Green leafies are like the antithesis of sugar, so the harmonize the liver. But, the veggies should be cooked because a deficient stomach/spleen/pancreas has a hard time with raw veggies. So, no salads. If you do have salad, put a little oil-based dressing (no ranch or blue cheese) to make the veggies more digestible, but not too much.
- Spleen and stomach are tonified by use of turmeric. This helps move the stagnant energy out of the digestive track (code for no more constipation). Using turmeric when you have an episode, is a nice natural way to keep things flowing. When you are feeling good, using herbs like fennel seed, dried ginger in moderation, and cumin, can help keep things regular, and help you avoid getting too much stagnation.
- Drinking barley broth also helps clear up mucos, that can form when we eat too much dairy, too much sugar, or too much food in general. BUT, I was told to drink a lot of water too, so I don’t get dried out.
- Mung beans and rice as a low-fat, easy to digest protein/carb complex. So, stay tuned for some recipes along this vein.
- Yoga: Doing deep yoga breathing really helps to relax the body, which calms the liver chi. Liver chi gets SO out of control in our culture, its crazy! We have too much to do, so all of us probably have some angry liver chi from time to time. Breath deep into the belly (called the hara in TCM) and exhale deeply. Try a 4-second inhale and 4-second exhale. Also, poses like bow, wheel, and bridge can help too!