Lemon; Lemon Essential Oil

Recommendations for Spring Health

Hello Friend!

It’s mid may and it sure is looking and feeling like spring. The trees and flowers are budding (all on their own time), the weather goes from 40 degrees and rainy to 70 degrees and sunny (that’s a big change for our bodies to handle!), and we have more daylight hours! Such a wonderful transition from the winter. As mentioned in Oh What A Spring about living with the season of spring, while winter was a time of yin, spring begins the shift to yang.

The properties of the Yin Yang Theory are:

  • While they oppose each other, they also support one another.
  • Neither can exist without the other.
  • They are infinitely divisible in each other.
  • They are dynamic.

These principles are visible in our every day world: in nature, in our own bodies, and even in the emotions, feelings, and experiences of life. This is nicely explained in chapter four of Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold… (which I plan to blog about in the near future :)).

Between Heaven and Earth Book; Bird Image

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Specific Examples of Yin & Yang: 

Yin: cold, dark, female, hard, heavy, hidden, midnight, moon, still, water (element), winter

Yang: hot, light, male, soft, light (mass), revealed, midday, sun, movement, fire (element), summer

With it being in full swing of spring, we need to ensure we are living with the season, and not in opposition to it. We are moving from yin within yin (winter) to yin within yang (spring).

Something I truly appreciate about Traditional Chinese Medicine is the theory… behind everything. Really, you look outside, and there are the elements and principles which one may find the patterns of your own health and wellbeing. While it takes years of studying to master, the medicine itself is intuitive once you know it.

Spring= Wood= Wind=Liver/ Gallbladder= Green= Anger= Eyes= Tendons

So, friend, spring is the perfect time to help support your Liver health.

The Liver is in charge of free flow of Qi (chee) throughout your body. As explained in Between Heaven and Earth, “The Liver Network is to monitor flow, maintaining evenness of emotions and clarity of judgment, giving grace and flexibility to the physical and mental body.” As you could imagine, if your Liver Qi is imbalanced, all sorts of issues may occur. That being said, living in modern America, it’s very common to have an imbalance of Liver Qi due to our busy, hectic, constantly moving lifestyles.

Some ways to help smooth your Liver Qi:

  •  Breath
    • Honestly, everything could be improved upon with breathing!
    • When you do slow, deep, belly out, inhalations you are allowing your lungs to expand fully since you’re helping your diaphragm move the way it’s intended.
    • The Liver can easily get tight and tense. And the Liver Qi, as is all Qi in the body, is impacted by the breath. The breath fuels our lungs with the oxygen it needs to keep us alive. When our body has the oxygen it needs, it will be less tense and more relaxed.
  • Drink your water!
    • Oh water. Something that is so healing and nourishing, yet so many people seem to forget all the amazing benefits of simply drinking water.
    • Basically we’re about 70% water, so we need water to survive and thrive.
    • The Liver will benefit from ample water intake due to having enough hydration in the body to ensure proper flow of fluids, lubrication of joints, flushing of the system, and plump organs.
  • Dry Skin Brushing
    • This is a wonderful method to help the lymphatic system of the body.* When you help the lymphatic system, you also assist the Qi in moving more smoothly throughout the body. When you help the overall Qi of the body move smoothly, you help the Liver.
    • You can purchase a Dry Skin Brush at most local health stores or online for $10-20.
    • You want to dry skin brush only on completely dry, closed skin.* Before you bathe is usually most ideal. It’s also recommended to dry skin brush in the tub, to catch any dead skin that may flake off.. I know I know… sounds lovely, but it feels wonderful!
      • Be sure to start at the hands and feet and work towards the heart.
      • For your stomach, back, and armpits brush in a circular clockwise motion.
      • You can do anywhere from 5-15 passes on each section.
      • Use enough pressure to feel it, but don’t rub your skin raw… that’s NOT the goal. It should feel almost like a good itch. Be sure to go gentler on more sensitive areas.
      • Continue with your shower and moisturize appropriately.
      • Repeat every few days to every day, depending on your need.
      • Even if you only remember once a week… do it! Once a week is better than not doing it at all.
    • *People with open or inflamed should avoid dry skin brushing. Never dry skin brush over burns, rashes, infections, open wounds, etc. Always consult with your health care practitioner before adding this into your routine.
  • Lemons
    • Lemons have amazing benefits for overall health and wellbeing.
    • Lemons can help your body with it’s natural detoxing abilities. And when you think of detoxing, you think of the function of the liver.
    • You can use the food (a slice), the juice (~1tsp), or the essential oil (1 drop)* per glass of room temperature water.
  • Massage
    • When you move your body, you help the Qi move.
    • Passive movements of your body (as in when someone else is doing the moving for your body) provide wonderful benefits to unblocking stagnation within the body and helping to open up the channels.
    • Plus it feels amazing!
  • Mindset/ Prayers/ Reflection/ Appreciation
    • Yes, mindset/ prayers/ reflections/ having appreciation can help your Liver Qi!
    • The thoughts you think create your feelings and emotions.
    • When the Liver is imbalanced, the emotion you may be feeling more of is anger, irritability, rage, and/ or depression.
    • When you can take stock of your thoughts, you can observe what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. From there you can shift your thought to more accurate thinking or more positive thinking- whichever is better suited for you.
    • Traditional Chinese Medicine realizes that emotional issues can cause physical issues and physical issues can cause emotional issues.
    • So when you take your thoughts and emotions into account, you can change your physical health, and improve your Liver Qi.
  •  Move & Stretch
    • The Liver governs the tendons, so the health of your tendons are a reflection of your Liver Qi.
    • When you move and stretch, you strengthen, lengthen, and nourish the tendons. This will help balance the Liver Qi.
    • Moving/ exercising/ having an active lifestyle will help ensure your Liver Qi is flowing smoothly.
    • When you are stationary, your Liver Qi can easily get stagnant.
    • Human beings were made to move.
    • Move your body = move your Liver Qi!
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
    • Acupuncture
      • When you insert needles into the body, it creates a micro-trauma. This micro-trauma signals to the brain to increase it’s healing mechanisms.
      • Acupuncture helps the body heal itself.
      • When utilizing needles/ laser/ pressure, a licensed acupuncturist can help direct the flow of Qi in the body.
      • If your Liver Qi is imbalanced, your practitioner can help detect this and perform the proper treatment.
    • Herbs
      • Taking herbs is like having a daily treatment specifically to your needs and patterns.
      • Herbal formulas are wonderfully balanced in their ability to help regulate the energy of the body and bring the body back to homeostasis.
      • Herbal formulas should only be prescribed by a qualified herbalist.
    • Check out FeelGoodClinics.com to schedule.
    • Check out my blog post to find a licensed acupuncturist near you!
Needles on Wood

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Those are my top suggestions to help balance your Liver Qi. I suggest adding one thing at a time to see how it works for you and to establish more of a routine, but feel free to do what you need.

I hope this offers some support to your health during the season of spring!

With faith, hope, and love,

Emily Kappelman 

*The suggested uses in the above post apply only to the use of therapeutic grade, Young Living Essential Oils. Not all essential oils are the same! Be sure to consult with the product label or healthcare practitioner for correct usage of essential oils. 


Reliving My Trip to China

Prince Gong's Mansion

Prince Gong’s Mansion

In my second year in grad school I had the amazing opportunity to travel to China for a school trip. We were in China mid April to early May. This was the first time I traveled overseas and I remember never being so sore from just sitting! It was nice to get to watch many movies but for someone who needs to move regularly (to move my Liver Qi)… the flight to and from China was intense!

The moment we landed I think we all felt like we were on another planet. The air was a yellowish smog color and we apparently landed in a section of the airport going under construction, so it was vacant and it felt very eerie.

I kept a journal during these 3 weeks so I will provide some insight to where we went, what we learned about in the hospital, cultural lessons, random happenings, and some of my thoughts. Journal entries are bulleted:

  • It’s already an overwhelming experience.
  • I feel completely out of it.
  • After a nights sleep I feel a lot better and ready to take on Beijing!


Prince Gong’s Mansion

  • Buildings have a step at the doorway where you have to step over it, with your right foot, to ensure you keep the devils out!
  • One building would have been stocked full with 4,000 tons of gold!
Prince Gong's Mansion

Prince Gong’s Mansion


Prince Gong's Mansion Ceiling

Prince Gong’s Mansion Ceiling

National Theater

  • Huge dome building with a moat around it.
National Theater with Tao

National Theater with Tao, quite windy!

Forbidden City

  • Amazing… hard to grasp all the history it’s seen.
  • Crazy busy.
  • People taking pictures of us and with us.
The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City


Bei Hai Park

  • Gorgeous area with willow trees lining the lake, such beautiful flowers.
  • Music and dancing! We had a blast.
  • I almost got ran over by a little vehicle.

The Great Wall

  • I forgot to count the steps!
  • Jenna and I did a handstand at the top of the Great Wall.
  • A classmate brought her hula hoop so we all hula hooped. 🙂
  • It was basically a big party on the Great Wall.
The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China


Lock of Love on The Great Wall of China

Lock of Love on The Great Wall of China

The Jade Factory

The Jade Factory

Pretty Trees at a Tao Temple Beijing, China

Pretty Trees at a Tao Temple Beijing, China


The Silk Factory

  • It was so awesome to see the silk worms and the process. The silk feels like clouds.
The Silk Factory

The Silk Factory

The Market

  • Wow, needed some warning for that… You had to bargain for everything. They totally crowd you. It was intense. But I got some good purchases.

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven


First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine 

Topics we learned about in lecture and in the hospital- in and out patient:

  • Wen Jing Decoction “Warm Menses Decoction”
  • Treatment of stroke: They will treat inpatients two times a day for stroke with great results.
  • Depression
  • Pediatric Tui Na
  • Knee Osteoarthritis “Xi Bi”
  • Skin Diseases: acne, herpes zoster, verruca plana  (HPV), alopecia, psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema
  • Fire needling… it’s as it sounds!
  • Scoliosis
  • Prolapsed lumbar disc
  • Muscle meridians
  • Back pain
  • Orthopedic care
  • Herbal treatments: topical patches, treatment tables with venting areas for herbs under the table to vent up to treat the patient
  • Lung cancer
Entering the Hospital

Entering the Hospital

Cultural Lessons

  • The traditional four closed courtyard is where people live. The north side (facing south) is water and where the elders live. The east side is wood and where the son lives, to grow big and strong, wealthy, and to eventually leave. The west side is metal and where the daughter lives, to stay and have wealth but to get married. The south is fire and no one lives there since fire ruins things, but guests may stay there. The courtyard is earth and where they have apricot and pear trees, a pond and a bucket of fish.
  • When taking photos, the peace sign is a very common sign. It represents “victory.” If you do a thumbs up, that means “great.”
  • Beer is a staple at every meal.
  • People sit in the front seats of the cab even if they’re by themselves.
  • The fashion is either really trendy or really interesting. 🙂
  • People spit and pass gas whenever they feel like it.
  • When an American is introduced to a Chinese person, they say their American name first. But we always asked for their birth name. 🙂
  • When they present you with a little shot glass size of alcohol at the beginning of the meal… this is NOT A SHOT. You’re supposed to sip it with the food. Our teacher/ supervisor was a little surprised we all took it as a shot. Ha!
Tianjin Food Market

Tianjin Food Market

Beijing Olympics Building

Beijing Olympics Building

Random happenings

  • The first day, after we exchanged money we went to a little shop to buy water and a little boy at the store hugged my leg, he kept hugging me, so cute and random. It lifted my spirits.
  • A man grabbed a friend’s boob as we were walking.
  • Bikers don’t wear helmets or have lights on at night.
  • It took forever for us to find a cab in one situation. One man in a suit said he could take us in his unmarked taxi… yeah no.
  • I ate a scorpion- crunchy, crispy, salty… not bad!
  • After our first week in Tianjin it was the Tianjin Parade! We were in the parade, we were gifted sweatshirts to wear and given blow up angry birds mallets. We were a little confused but did as we were told.
Tianjin Parade

Tianjin Parade

Tianjin Parade

Tianjin Parade

  • We visited Bei Men Hospital, they presented us with a presentation and then a performance. Like a legit performance: dancers, singers, acrobats, gymnasts- very talented.
Bei Men Hospital Performance

Bei Men Hospital Performance


  • Observing in the clinic, there was a tv crew following us around talking pictures and videos. I was photographed cupping a patient (yes, my parents have a copy of the newspaper clipping hanging up at home :)) Due to Kate and I having the lightest colored hair, we were interviewed and our Chinese buddy, Maria interpreted for us. We were on the local station that night.
  • One of our free days we tried to get lunch at a restaurant. They sat us in the corner and ignored us. Eventually we left.
  • 85 degree Celsius bakery is delish! It was a common stopping place, maybe even two times in a day. The bakers began to expect us.
85 Degree Celsius Bakery

85 Degree Celsius Bakery

  • Night cruise on a river that runs through Tianjin. It used to have cargos that would sail on it. It has 72 curves in the river!
Tianjin River Boat Ride

Tianjin River Boat Ride

  • Learned how to test if pearls are real.

Give me all the pearls 🙂

  • One of our last days we went out to a couple bars and clubs. Dancing in a foreign country with people from literally all over the world to cultural music was seriously my happy place!

My thoughts: 

  • This food is amazing.
Breakfast in Beijing

Breakfast in Beijing

Amazing Chinese Food

Amazing Chinese Food

Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

Delicious Chinese Food

Delicious Chinese Food

Colorful Chinese Food

Tao ordered this soup for the group to help keep us healthy. Tasted like an egg drop chicken noodle soup… delicious and nutritious!

  • I constantly feel people staring and taking pictures.
  • It’s weird not having any idea what people are saying.
  • The city is really pretty at night.
  • It’s cool learning about all their history and reasonings for things… too much to write.
  • A week in, my mom and dad called. It was so nice to hear their voices. I about teared up. They were so excited to talk, as was I! They were just making sure I was in China… haha!
  • Starbucks is our oasis: jazz music, clean, and comforting familiar drinks.
  • It’s amazing learning about Chinese Medicine in China!
Original Acupuncture Tools

Original Acupuncture Tools… No Thanks!

Herbal Department

Herbal Department

  • Never have I seen so many cars, bikes, walkers and not one accident! It’s really quite amazing.

Anyways, that’s a little taste of my experience in Beijing and Tianjin China in 2013. It was truly unforgettable and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I truly believe the more you travel the more you get to observe humanity and all the variations of this amazing life we live.

With faith, hope, and love,

Emily Kappelman