Spring Tonic

Article written by Jenny Boice, originally published here.

Spring is not only a great time for cleaning out closets, organizing our space and getting rid of things we no longer need but it's also a great time to organize our recipes and clear our bodies of what it no longer needs. Spring Tonics are a wonderful way to rid your body of built up toxins and start preparing for the active warm days ahead.

Cultures from all over the world have created and used cleansing tonics for centuries, especially in the spring.   Spring tonics were very popular back when our winter diets consisted of whatever stores we could preserve in the fall.  Spring tonics were believed to remove impurities from our blood, purify the system and give us more energy for the hard work to be done during growing season.  

Each family had their own recipe which could consist of one herb or a combination of roots and herbs.  Some families made their own herbal concoctions while others simply added the fresh raw greens and tender roots directly to their kitchen tables.  Dandelion, burdock, nettles, and yellow dock are among the many herbs used this way. 

Most spring tonics have been traditionally used to stimulate the kidney, liver and gall bladder since these organs tend to accumulate a lot of waste during the winter from being so sedentary and eating a heavy diet.   A tonic herb is focused on a particular part of the body and is used to bring it to a proper balance for normal functioning.  Below are some popular spring tonics you can try for yourself.

Dandelion is one of the most popular spring tonics because it is a natural diuretic, it’s a mild laxative and it stimulates the function of the liver.  You can add fresh dandelion leaves to your salad, steam them or dry the leaves and make them into a tea.  Dandelion roots have similar properties as the leaves.  The root can be cut into pieces, simmered in water and then enjoyed as a tea as well. 

Burdock root is often combined with dandelion for a purifying spring tonic.  The two herbs have similar properties and work well together.  Burdock root is a wonderful blood purifier and cleansing tea.  It cleanses the liver by stimulating the flow of bile.  This herb has also been used to treat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema which are possible signs of an imbalance in the liver.  Fresh burdock root can be eaten steamed, boiled or added to a soup with other root vegetables.  Burdock Root can also be made into a tea.

Nettles is another popular spring tonic and it’s a very nutritive choice.  This herb stimulates the kidneys, cleans the blood and is a great source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.   Nettles is a wonderful tonic for the whole body. Due to the stinging hairs of the nettles plant, nettles should be steamed before eating. 

In addition to these tonics it is a good idea to drink plenty of water to flush your system.  If you take your weight in pounds and divide by two, you will have the number of ounces of water you should consume each day.  For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water.  Remember when our bodies are dehydrated, they hold onto water so drink up!

If you pick your own herbs, be sure to avoid plants growing near roadways. They will be contaminated with fuel emissions.  If you don’t feel comfortable identifying these plants, you can always buy the dried herbs at your local health food store.  You can also read about how to create your own herbal infusions.   If you get started now, you’ll be amazed at how good you feel by summer! 

Disclaimer:  This article is for educational purposes only.  You should consult your health care provider before taking herbal formulas. 

About Jenny - I am certified as a Clinical Master Herbalist, Nutritionist and in Tibetan Acupressure. I integrate herbs, nutrition, energy, and acupressure to assist the body in restoring health and balance. My methods are simple yet powerfully effective and easy to apply. I believe in educating and empowering people to heal themselves.I will help you discover which food and lifestyle choices work best for the level of wellness you desire. Everyone is at varying degrees of wellness as well as varying degrees of willingness to change. We will start where you are. We will look at the blocks you have toward wellness and work through those together. I will help find ways to incorporate some basic changes to have the vitality and lifestyle you desire.

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