What is the Spleen in Chinese medicine?
The Spleen is thought to be the most important organ for digestion.
What's the Spleens purpose?
The purpose of the Spleen is to transform and transport the life force/energy/Qi from the food and liquid that enters the body - this is crucial since some of the primary building blocks of life come from the food and liquid we take in.
If the Spleen isn't able to do it's job properly, the rest of the body wont receive the life force/energy/Qi it needs to function well.
The Spleen also helps to process/interpret/digest all information we take in.
The Spleen controls our Blood, muscles and 4 limbs.
What's the Western view?
The western spleen filters blood, makes platelets, helps get rid of infections.
The Spleen is like a burner of a stove, and the Stomach is like the pot sitting on the burner.
Imagine trying to cook up a delicious soup. You fill up a pot (Stomach) with meat, vegetables, some oil, water, spices, herbs, etc. Having a nice big flame (strong Spleen) under the pot to bring it all up to a boil will help ensure everything is being cooked, and within a reasonable amount of time.
Trying to cook this pot of soup with a small flame (weak Spleen) is unlikely to ever happen, especially if cold water and new food keeps being added to it, it will never begin to cook!
The flame (Spleen) helps the food to break down and soften and the flavors to come out. The steam and aromas from the pot will permeate the kitchen stimulating everyones hunger. With a small flame (weak Spleen) under a big pot of food, and none of this is likely to ever happen.
Unlike this soup analogy, inside the body, the food and liquid wont just sit around for that small flame to heat up the food because the body needs to keep things moving - this is where a lot of problems can stem.
What can harm the Spleen?
Too much food, irregular eating times, unbalanced diet, too much stress, over work, too much information and thinking, and the Spleen gets bogged down and overloaded. This can create excess dampness and inhibit the Spleens ability to do its job effectively.
How to identify issues with the Spleen?
- It can feel like heaviness in the body.
- Feeling lethargic.
- A feeling of "I cant do that".
- Loose or not formed bowel movements. Mucus in stool.
- Poor quality of thinking. Unable to find the words to express yourself.
- Unable to develop muscle tone. Muscle atrophy or weak feeling muscles.
- Negatively effects the body's ability to process food and information.
- Either really, really hungry or not at all.
- You may eat a whole meal and can eat again almost right afterwards.
- Can potentially go for several days of not eating much at all and you barely notice it.
- Weight gain. Bloated. Pudgy.
- Water retention. Edema.
- Feeling sluggish. Alcohol or coffee cravings.
How to improve, maintain and then prevent issues with the Spleen?
The Spleen loves routine - resting, eating, working, exercising regularly at the same times each day is ideal. However, the Spleen loves a varied and balanced diet; eating the same meal over and over again and the Spleen is not happy.
Avoid too much damp producing foods such as:
- Fried food.
- Processed food.
- Raw food/Salad.