The spleen, sadness and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The spleen is a very interesting organ.  Some of its functions include governing the transformation of foods and transporting nutrients, destroying old red blood cells, its participation is fundamental in the immune system, it forms part of the lymphatic system, and is the activity center for the defense system.  The spleen is also a key point for iron deposits and contains, inside it, a considerable amount of platelets and macrophages available for spreading into the blood stream whenever necessary.

Female spleen and abdominal organs - anterior viewIn human beings the spleen is the largest of the lymphatic organs, situated behind the stomach and underneath the diaphragm, in the left part of the diaphragm, coming into contact with the stomach and left kidney.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine the spleen has the unique ability to absorb Qi from foods, which helps form and control blood.  It is a crucial link in the process of transforming food into Qi and blood.  This organ is fundamental in digestion.  The spleen extract nutrients from food and drink and transforms them into Qi and blood.  It is known as the “base organ or post-natal existence”.

Spleen movement and element: command ascending movements in the body: related to movement and transformation of water in the body.

Descending function in the spleen: this is indispensable for nourishing organs and tissues.  It regulates pure ascent and descent: separates fluids in foods consumed, sends pure liquids to the lungs where they spread out to nourish skin.  Impure liquids move towards the intestines where they are then sent to either the bladder to be eliminated through urine, or they are reused.

Harmonious spleen

If your spleen functions properly, which is to say, it transforms and transports harmoniously, the Qi and Blood are plentiful, and digestive strength is strong.

If the spleen is not in harmony, all or some parts of the body will be affected, producing insufficient Qi or Blood.  If your digestion is affected, you will then experience symptoms like abdominal distension, pain, diarrhea, or anorexia.

Symptoms that demonstrate poor spleen functioning:

-The spleen opens up in the mouth, which is one of the easiest external ways of determining if the spleen is functioning correctly.  If the spleen is balanced, you will clearly be able to distinguish the five tastes and your lips will be red, warm and moist.  If you spleen is weak, your mouth will not be sensitive to flavors and your lips will be pale, and they will tend to be cold and dry.

-If the spleen’s Qi is weak, blood can stray from its path and move about in a disorderly fashion, which causes symptoms like vomiting blood, blood under the skin, bloody stool, menorrhagia or uterine hemorrhaging.

-The spleen regulates muscles and extremities as it transports Qi and blood to them.  Weak or un-toned muscles, as well as cold extremities (hands and feet) signify poor spleen functioning.

– Tones muscles and the body which helps hold up the entrails and them from becoming distended or descending.

– The spleen is related to the ability to memorize, to concentrate, etc.  It is known as the house of thought.  When it is imbalanced, it could be related to fixed ideas, obsessions, inflexibility and authoritarian personality, abdominal distension discomfort, appetite loss and Alzheimer’s.

Sadness and depression are emotions associated with the spleen.  They are associated to deceptions, separations or losses.  It expresses a sound of “sobbing”.

In summary, a poorly functioning spleen produces: dry and pallid lips, digestive changes, asthenia, anorexia, fluid retention, excessive cravings to eat sweets, decreased defenses and the body easily falls ill.

Sadness and the spleen

The spleen implies support, nutrition and upbringing, which is why it is associated with sadness and depression when these elements in the individual fail.  It not only represents support and food nutrition but also spiritual and emotional nourishment.  Sadness is felt in the heart and affects all areas in the chest.  It produces a heaviness, shortness of breath, tiredness and depression.

Spleen health

You must find time to connect with your own sadness, observe yourself without judgement and avoid venting what you feel.  You must tend to your excessive feelings of worry, as well as avoiding reasoning or creativity, being very active or obsessive.

Foods and plants that combine well with the spleen: natural sweets like fruits, whole grains, etc., pumpkin, lettuce, millet, whole grain rice, oats, and dandelion.

Lack of exercise, irregular foods, and fear weaken spleen Chi.


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