“Your food shall be your medicine and your medicine shall be your food.” Hippocrates.
The ancient holistic medicinal art of Ayurveda (Sanskrit for “science of life”) evolved some 5,000 years ago in India and works by using diverse elements to balance body, mind and environment. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the foods we eat can have a powerful effect on our health and general well being. Each season has a dominant “dosha” just as each individual has a dominant dosha or body type. Spring is dominated by Kapha- characterized by heavy, slow, damp and cold qualities.
As we near the spring solstice, we look forward to warmer weather, sunshine and getting outside in the fresh air. Springtime holds out some challenges for our sluggish Kapha-bound systems: we need to look at transitioning from winter into spring by adding some astringent and bitter food ingredients into our meals. Kapha balancing elements can easily be included into some very tasty springtime recipes. These will help our digestive systems get moving after a sedentary winter and jump start the liver to help move stored toxins out of the body.
Our bodies are like intricate musical instruments. With the right musician, tuned perfectly, and the right melodies, our physical systems can sing.
A great springtime kickoff is a digestive cleanse. Try a liquid (juice) fast made up of pureed vegetables one day a week, or a more intensive cleanse – a juice fast for up to 10 days. A cleanse is a sure fire way to get those toxins moving and help clear stored fat out of the system. A cup of ginger tea is a great Kapha balancer. Ginger helps clear the digestive system and stimulate dull taste buds. Add a little agave for sweetness or lemon for tartness.
Our local farms and even some wild seasonal plants start to bear wonderful edibles in spring that we rarely see as plentifully at any other time of the year. Wild asparagus can be found along the shores of streambeds and other areas where spring runoff encourages this favorite vegetable. If you can’t find any growing wild, your local farmers market and organic food section will certainly have a plentiful supply. Asparagus has bitter and astringent tones to its rich flavor and is a good Kapha balancer. Radishes, arugula, and even early artichokes are also great spring eating.
Among the most medicinally active spring foods is a plant that is often thought of as a weed: Dandelion. The root and the leaves are both edible. Dandelion has a long list of medicinal properties: it is a liver stimulant, blood cleanser, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory herb. Its leaves can be eaten in salads, its roots can be brewed as a coffee substitute and it can even be fermented into wine. Another wild harvest food, dandelions can be found in grassy areas, pick the leaves young and use them sparingly (they are bitter, Kapha balancing) in salads.
As the days grow longer, it’s time to do a little internal spring-cleaning. So get out into the sunshine and take a walk, enjoy a green smoothie for lunch and partake of some of nature’s finest spring vegetables. You body will thank you.