Feelin' Spleeny

Yesterday I decided to write a few blogs covering the organ systems from a TCM standpoint, starting with the liver. Today we'll move on to the spleen. From a Western medicine perspective, the spleen doesn't get all that much respect. After all, we can live without it, right? It plays a role in filtering and manufacturing blood, and creates antibodies; if it is damaged, other organs take over the job. But in the world of TCM, the spleen plays numerous important roles.

First and foremost, the spleen is connected with the blood, specifically holding the blood in the vessels. Varicose veins, easy bruising, or any other type of issue where the blood is not being properly contained stems back to the spleen. This job of "holding" also extends to keeping things in the body held in check and raised into the position they are meant to be in. Hemorrhoids, hernias, or prolapse of any organ can be linked to a weak spleen.

The spleen is also very involved in digestion and controlling the fluids of the body. Gas, bloating, diarrhea, and loose stools are all spleen issues. Edema can be as well. Spleen-related digestive issues are usually followed by long, snakelike bowel movements. (Hope you weren't eating while reading this!)

The spleen also controls the muscles. Weak, flaccid muscles can be caused by a deficiency of the spleen. Spleen deficiency also leads to weight issues, because if the spleen is not processing foods correctly, the food simply sits there, causing weight gain.

From an emotional standpoint, the spleen is our soft, nurturing, motherly side. Overthinking, overdoing for others, and obsessing about things are all linked to the spleen. The "holding in" part extends to the psychological: people who just can't let go of things, emotionally or otherwise, need work on their spleen. Those hoarders with 57 cats and newspapers from 1962 are spleen deficient. So is that overprotective mom who worries herself into a frenzy at the thought of her middle-aged son leaving the nest. Overthinking is both caused by and damaging to the spleen. So if you are that type of person who can't sleep because you are reliving a disagreement that happened a week ago, your spleen is allowing it...but the more you worry about it, the more you are weakening your spleen. Ever wonder why people who stress out over small things tend to have a lot of stomach issues? Well, now you know.