Is My Spleen in Trouble? How to tell.

Greetings Dear Readers,

I’d like to help folks understand their bodies.  I’d like folks to be able to take charge and make dietary choices that fit their bodies’ individual needs. The Spleen governs digestion and is one of the most commonly afflicted systems in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The key indications of a Spleen pattern are:

–       fatigue

–       tendency to obesity

–       dull-yellow facial complexion

–       abdominal bloating

–       depression

–       digestive problems

Below I will explain some commonly seen Spleen patterns.  Please keep in mind that a person does not need to have all the symptoms listed to have these patterns.  Some symptoms may also belong to other organ patterns.  When in doubt please check with your acupuncturist or TCM practitioner.

Spleen Qi Deficiency

This is by far the most common Spleen issue.  It is the root of many other Spleen patterns.  Look for:

–       pale face

–       loose stools

–       wanting to lie down

–       weak limbs

–       putting on weight easily

–       weak appetite

–       bloating after eating

–       fatigue

With these symptoms a person needs to eat more warm foods (temperature warm and energetically warm), eat regularly and moderately.  Certain emotions such as pensiveness (excess thinking, studying, concentration or obsessing) weaken the Spleen.  A cold, wet climate (think England) is also a factor in Spleen Qi deficiency.  “Spleen Yang deficiency” and “Spleen Qi Sinking” are further progressions from Spleen Qi Deficiency and have many of the same symptoms.

Cold Dampness Invading the Spleen

–       feeling of fullness in the abdomen

–       feeling of heaviness

–       poor appetite

–       cold feeling in upper abdomen that feels better when heat it applied

–       sweet taste in the mouth

–       poor sense of taste

–       absence of thirst

–       fatigue

–       loose stools

–       water retention

–       nausea

–       dull-white complexion

–       vaginal discharge that is white and excessive

This pattern normally develops after being exposed to a cold rainy environment.  It’s helpful to seek out warmer environments, turn up the heat, do more exercise, put on a sweater and try using a dry sauna to knock out some of the Cold, Damp energy out of the body.   Use of moxabustion is also indicated.

Damp-Heat Invading the Spleen

–       full feeling in the upper or lower abdomen

–       heavy feeling in head or body

–       thirst but no wish to drink

–       loose stools with strong odour

–       nausea

–       feeling hot

–       burning sensation in anus

–       vomiting

–       itchy skin or skin outbreaks

–       dull heavy headache

–       dull yellow complexion

–       yellow-tinged sclera of eyes

–       sweating that does not relieve feeling of heat

This pattern is often seen when a person lives or works in a hot humid environment.  This pattern can be helped by clearing the Heat and resolving the Dampness.  Use more energetically cooling foods (see the food chart in “TCM Does Support a Raw Food Lifestyle”).  Dampness can be cleared using bitter foods and teas such as dandelion, bitter gourd (tea or soup), and green vegetables.  Your acupuncturist can also use acupoints to clear Heat and Damp.

Spleen and Liver Blood Deficiency

–       dry hair

–       brittle nails

–       scanty periods

–       fatigue

–       weak appetite

–       pale lips

–       pale dull complexion

–       blurred vision or floaters

–       insomnia

–       dizziness

–       depression

–       numb or cramping limbs

–       abdominal bloating

–       loose bowels

The Spleen is responsible for the formation of blood coming from the Qi of food.  If the Spleen is weak for whatever reason (dietary, climactic, mental strain or otherwise) then the blood formed from food intake will be weak and not nourishing to the body.  One important thing here is to avoid eating too many high fat or chemically-laden foods which burden or “stagnate” the Liver system causing the Liver to “attack” the Spleen making the Spleen weak.   Green juices can help relieve the Liver Qi stagnation allowing more harmony between the Liver and Spleen.  Spleen Qi can be boosted by increasing energetically warming foods and relaxing the busy mind.

How’s your Spleen these days? Love to hear your comments and questions.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

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