Bitters, The Liver, and 4 Principles for Spring Wellness

Bitters, The Liver, and 4 Principles for Spring Wellness
Spring is the season of birth, new beginnings, cleansing, renewal, and growth—a time for the earth to manifest the latent potential within all things. Awakening from the cocoon of winter, is a time to draw our energies up from the roots and shake off the stagnancy of the season’s passed.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is represented by the wood element and includes the liver and the gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens. In TCM the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of qi, or energy, throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. When you taste a bitter herbs or flavor, your liver is stimulated to produce bile, helping to break down fats and better assimilate foods. This process eases digestion and allows the body to cleanse stagnancy in the digestive tract, helping to more efficiently use your bodies energy.

black illustration of a nettle plant
4 Principles for Spring Wellness:


According to Chinese medicine, the tendons are controlled by the liver, which stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity. Incorporating a morning stretch into your routine will help maintain tendon health and flexibility, while keeping a fresh supply of blood and oxygen circulating throughout your body. Self massage also promotes release of stagnant energy while helping circulate blood and lymph.

Eat Green

Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants - fresh, leafy greens, and sprouts - can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi, or energy. There are abundant spring ephemerals growing all around, tender dandelion greens, nettles, and chickweed. Chlorophyll purifies the body by binding with toxins to hamper absorption and increasing oxygen flow in our body, which alkalizes, detoxifies, and neutralizes free radicals. The molecular structure of chlorophyll and red blood cells are nearly identical!

Sour Foods

Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver’s qi. The astringent nature of sour foods help prevent leakage of energy. Start your day with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in some water, your liver and digestion will thank you! Fermented foods are naturally sour and have the added benefit of containing probiotics for happy gut flora.


Bitter herbs and foods stimulate the digestive system and liver. Approximately 15 minutes before each meal, place 10-15 drops of a bitters formula on the tongue to enhance the digestive process. Radicchio or dandelion greens chopped up and tossed in a salad add a nice bitter quality that will help prime digestion. Don’t try to mask the bitter taste, embrace it! If you can’t taste it your body is not registering the bitter flavor.