This time of year is always so special. Everything starts to buzz with life and oscillate between bright, fresh, intense sun, extreme wind and rain. All elements playing their role in generating new bright green growth, vibrant flowers and energy in everything and everyone! Energy for “Spring Cleaning!”.
There are several thoughts about where the term “Spring Cleaning” came from. It appears to date back many centuries and could have been influenced by several traditions. The Jewish tradition during Passover (March and April) requires the removal of all leavened products from the house including utensils used for making these products. In doing so it is thought that this time was also taken for cleaning the house thoroughly.
The Chinese welcome New Year in January/February and during this time it was important to clean the house thoroughly in preparation for the New Year. Once completed the Chinese would hang good luck paper couplets (chunlian) around the front door.
The Iranians took part in Khaneh Tabani, which translates as “Shaking of the House”, also in preparation for the New Year during the spring Equinox on the 21st March. This term “Shaking of the House” is rather visual and for me has a strong association with getting ready for what is coming in Spring and Summer.
In Western countries before the advent of vacuum cleaners, spring was the time to remove the soot from the house as a result of coal furnaces. Springtime was considered warm enough to open the doors and windows to air the house out, whilst the wind would blow all the soot and dust away.
Whatever the history to spring cleaning it is a time of renewal, of letting go of what is not needed. It has both psychological and physical effects on the mind, body and spirit. The physical effects are found in deeper cleaning and removal of dirt and dust that has accumulated over the winter months in areas that are not so visible due to lack of sun and day light. Removal of this dust decreases potential allergies and asthma.
Psychologically the winter is a gloomy time, especially in Northern countries when daylight hours are much less, the sun is low in the sky, everything appears to be sleeping and consequently energy stagnates, things get left undone, projects unfinished and progress slowed. Spring is the time when we feel energized and ready to complete all the unfinished projects, create afresh, make those decisions that we have been putting off, and therefore generally get on with things.
What about spring cleaning yourself to lift your mood, energise yourself and clear out stagnation from the body? Now is the time to do that detox you have been promising yourself for months. During the spring it is easier to eat fresh foods, salads and vegetables and to drink herbal tea to help remove unwanted clogging in the intestines and bowel refreshing and energizing the system, as well as increasing and improving blood circulation, supporting the main body organs by assisting them to breakdown accumulated toxins and then eliminate them more effectively through the body’s elimination channels – the skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and bowel.
Cleavers or Goose grass (Galium aparine) this straggling plant sticks to everything, its name referring to its ability to cling/cleave to clothing or animals that brush past it. Growing frantically at this time of year it is full of polyphenolic acids, flavonoids and tannins. These constituents are valuable as a diuretic, for general detoxification of the body and to aid with swollen lymph glands. Pick the plant creeping stems, boil in water for 10-15 minutes and drink 2-3 cups daily as a tea. (Avoid if pregnant)
Nettle (Urtica doica) – The Romans used Urtica as a method of beating the body to bring blood to the surface in order to keep warm. Known as “urtification”. Nettle leaves are rich in flavonoids, amines, including histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin as well as minerals. Nettle is also a cleansing and detoxifying herb with diuretic action, aiding the elimination of waste from the body. Nettle is an antiallergenic and can be used for treating hay fever, a condition associated with spring. Pick the nettle tops and leaves, boil in water for 10-15 minutes and drink 2-3 cups daily as tea. (Avoid if pregnant)
Dry skin brushing – daily dry skin brushing stimulates lymph to aid with removal of toxins through the skin, the largest organ in the body. Using a specific brush for dry skin brushing, before showering brush all over your body always in direction of your heart. Over time you will enjoy the benefits of more effect detoxification and a stronger immune.