Macrobiotic Spring Cleanse with Cedar Healing Arts
For the past two weeks I have been participating in a Spring Cleanse with my good friend and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Sonya denElzen of Cedar Healing Arts. Doing a cleanse seemed appropriate given the past year of bad habits and over indulgences that Covid brought on; never before had my diet consisted of a daily croissant for breakfast.
In my 20’s I was really into macrobiotic eating after having read the Tao of Pooh. I was inspired by the Yin and Yang principles of the natural world and wanted to incorporate balance into all aspects of my life.
Spring naturally feels like the time to mentally reboot and to make healthy changes to self-care, to help set us on the best course for the rest of the year. In this blog I discuss with Sonja the principles of a Spring Cleanse in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We also include her favourite macrobiotic recipe at the end!
Sonja denElzen is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist, licensed Zen Shiatsu practitioner, yoga and qigong instructor and sound journey facilitator. She is passionate about the necessity for humanity to cultivate a co-creative relationship with nature along with being more self empowered in one’s own wellbeing. As the founder of Cedar Healing Arts, her vision is to create a space to support and inspire people on their journey to wellbeing and cultivating deeper connections to their higher selves, each other and nature.
Q: Why is Spring a good time to do a cleanse?
A: We know that sustaining a healthy diet and lifestyle for the long term can be challenging, and doing a spring reset is the ideal way to support your body to start the next cycle of time refreshed and renewed. In Spring the liver and gallbladder are naturally responding and aligned with the energy of the season — upward and outward, like the fresh spring shoots, everything is springing forth from the beginning of their life cycle. The body naturally wants to transform the stagnation and stored fats and toxins from the winter, so it can be helpful to get into alignment with the energetics of the season along with supporting the liver and gallbladder in their optimal time.
Q: In TCM tradition can you explain what the liver & gallbladder represent?
A: In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Liver and Gallbladder meridians have the job of ensuring smooth flow of qi (energy) in the body, when they are harmonious and healthy we feel in flow, are able to actualize plans and have patience as well as the ability to get ideas off the ground. If they are unharmonious then we might feel frustrated, impatient, stagnated in our projects and have a difficult time feeling an ease of flow.
Q: What does the cleanse look like? Can you list 3 main elements to this cleanse.
A: The Spring Reset Cleanse has a week of an elimination cleanse, where you are still eating what you might normally eat, minus alcohol, dairy, processed sugar, greasy foods, etc.
Next there are a few days with a very simple diet of grains, steamed vegetables and herbal teas, to help clean and prepare to move into a few vegetable juice cleanse with one or two cooked simple meals a day, depending on your current constitution.
Then you spiral out the same way into a whole food recommendation of spring foods that are supportive of maximizing your digestive health during the spring season.
Tea suggestions are included that help detox the organs and rejuvenate them.
Alongside the cleanse there are journal prompts, a meridian tapping video, a sound meditation and a spring meditation.
Q: What is macrobiotic cooking?
A: It is eating in alignment with the energetics of the season and weather. It’s eating as organic and local as possible. It is based on whole food, mainly whole grains, vegetables, and legumes, ferments. If you also like to have a bit of meat in your diet, make sure it is in line with the energetics of the season as well as the energy of which it came to you. It also takes into account cooking methods that are harmonious with the season.
Q: What herbs can we use to support the liver and gallbladder?
A: Support for the liver and gallbladder can include: MilkThistle, Burdock Root, Dandelion Root.
Q: For those who are unable to join on this cleanse can list your top 3 things to do to support the liver during this season.
A: Eat lots of fresh bitter greens, and sprouts, get outside and go for long mindful walks, enjoy the scents and sounds of spring to tune your body to the changing climate, shift your cooking methods and what you are eating from winter foods and methods to spring foods and methods. Add lemon to your meals, tea, and water.
Q: As we are looking at sustainability of our planet and turning more and more to plant based diets, can you suggest one of your favourite Macrobiotic recipes?
A: Living in Ontario we have access to wild rice, wild leeks, mushrooms, and dandelion greens which are all currently in season. Incorporating these foods that are around us would be where I would start.
Wild Rice with Mushrooms & Tahini
- Sprouted wild rice – soak rice overnight with kombu seaweed
- Lightly sauteed foraged mushrooms ( bolet, chantrel, morrells) with wild Lleeks or fresh garlic
- Dandelion greens & spinach – lightly sautéed in sesame oil
- Topped with diced green apple, pumpkin seeds, and radish sprouts
- Tahini and apple cider vinegar (for drizzling on top)
- Half a lime – squeeze over the entire meal