FOUNDATIONAL SUPPORT FOR OVERALL HEALTH
Healthy Living Blog
by Rachelle Tetreault, L,Ac
In Eastern Medicine, the foundational support for health all begins in the Spleen or middle jiao of the body. The spleen is in charge of nutrient absorption, blood production, whole energy of the body, the immune system, and optimal metabolism. There are many acu points and herbal remedies which help keep the spleen working optimally to ensure the best immune support and overall health of both mind and body.
Let’s start with some of the basic reasons that the spleen energy becomes compromised or deficient. Insufficient sleep over time is a big culprit along with overthinking and even seen often in students who are regularly using their brains with overstudying or cramming for tests. Poor stress management effects the liver energy which overacts on the spleen often creating a variety of digestive issues. Eating too many cold or raw foods or iced drinks also play a big role in long-term spleen deficiency creating poor nutrient absorption and a low metabolism.
The spleen is in charge of the fluid transportation of the body and when it is working less than efficient, there will be an accumulation of water and dampness creating what is termed phlegm. Phlegm in Eastern Medicine does not imply lung phlegm but anywhere in the body can be affected. Signs often include dizziness, vertigo, nausea, seizures, vomiting, formation of nodules, and even psychological issues. The lung stores phlegm and if affecting the lungs will result in coughing and profuse sputum.
Spleen deficiency gives rise to many damp and phlegm disorders. These can be gastrointestinal, metabolic, neurological, respiratory, and even cardiovascular in nature. The clinician will notice a greasy tongue coating with a slippery pulse when assessing the patient. The tongue will have teeth marks showing dampness accumulation from a larger or swollen tongue. Other signs will be a pale tongue, poor appetite, loose stools, sallow complexion, weakness of the extremities, pale face, and lassitude or overall low energy.
When helping the body heal or begin regulating on its own, it is vital to ensure that the spleen, or foundation of the body’s health, is first intact. Even with chemotherapy patients, in order for the outcome to be more effective and the patient to tolerate the effects of the treatment, the foundation of the immune system, the spleen energy, needs to be nourished. The same is true with treating pain clients to help reduce the inflammatory cytokines of the body and strengthen the overall health of the individual. This can be done by using specific acupoints on the body and certain herbal remedies which have been time tested to treat spleen weakness or deficiency.
The ancient Eastern Medicine formula known as er chen tang and is also called the Two-Cured Decoction. Er chen tang is the foundational formula for treating dampness and phlegm in the body. The spleen acts to both transport water or fluids in the body as does the lungs and kidney aid in fluid transport. However, the spleen also plays a role in water or fluid transformation. If this is impaired, this will lead to insufficient supply of nutrients to the body and extremities.
Major herbals used in conjunction to help regulate and bring the spleen energy back to health are major spleen tonics which not only strengthen the spleen but reduce dampness and phlegm and help regulate the liver blood. Some of the more common herbs used for this purpose are the white atractylodes rhizome which benefits both the spleen and stomach, pinellia is also used to treat nausea and combating both phlegm and dampness. The major herbals which are empirical in strengthening the spleen are fu ling, cang zhu, ban xia, bai zhu, and sheng jiang. The herbal formulas combined of a variety of single herbals are constructed to help treat various digestive disorders, regulate metabolic activity, and to improve circulatory and cardiovascular function. Where in Eastern Medicine, we see it as drying damp and dissolving phlegm, regulating spleen energy, harmonizing the middle jiao, and nourishing the spleen.
Certain habits will help strengthen the body’s overall spleen energy. Some of these habits include drinking warm or hot liquids with your meals. Cold or iced drinks will actually impede the peristaltic movement of the digestive system itself. Being asleep by 10pm helps the body to get optimal rest and rejuvenation due to our natural biological clock and liver cleansing time. Remember the liver overacts on the spleen energy when not taken care of properly. Eat small, portioned meals especially do not skip breakfast. Have the last meal at least three hours prior to bedtime for proper digestion to take place.
Food therapy for the spleen includes warm, cooked foods like pearl barley, daikon radish juice after meals, hawthorn berries, rice, and parsley. Dried orange peel steeped tea after meals also helps replenish the spleen energy of the body.
Managing a good balance of work and home life will help combat added stressors which may play havoc on us both mentally and physically. Our spleen energy is affected by both physical and mental factors. Lastly, to build an optimal immune system and great vitality, we need to regularly replenish our spleen energy. This is the basis and foundation for good health. Call today for your journey to optimal health 772-353-1397
Learn more: Treatment of liver and spleen illnesses by herbs