You may remember from biology class that the spleen is an important organ in our lymphatic system, producing lymphocytes (think antibodies) that are crucial for an immunological response. Well, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we think about the spleen a little more differently.
In TCM, the spleen is not only in charge of making new Qi (think life force), but it also:
Rules the transformation and transportation of food/energy via the digestive system, which includes our mouths and so it is no surprise that spleen health manifests in the lips
Governs the blood
Controls the muscles, flesh and the four limbs
Regulates thought and concentration
Raises the Qi along the midline, towards our mouth
As a result, when there are imbalances in our spleen, we often see symptoms such as:
Pale, dry lips
Poor sense of taste or lack of appetite
Cramps, pins and needles
Overthinking, worry, inability to concentrate
And in more extreme cases; haemorrhage or prolapse of organs
So, what can we do to show our spleen some love?
Avoid having cold or iced drinks, especially with meals
Eat mindfully; this means not rushing and not eating in front of the TV, or while on your phone or laptop. Sit down at the table, enjoy your food and better yet, enjoy the company of others.
Avoid the usual suspects such as dairy, wheat, fruit juice, refined sugar, coffee, alcohol
Reach for warming foods like pumpkin, walnuts, oats, lentils and kidney beans, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches
See your TCM practitioner to strengthen your spleen with herbs and acupuncture
Click here for a soul warming pumpkin soup recipe, perfect for these cold winter nights as well as for your spleen.