tips for a healthy spleen

What is the importance of the Spleen to one’s digestive health?

Chinese medicine agrees with Western medicine that the Spleen plays a big part in maintaining the immune system and blood cells. However, Chinese medicine recognizes that these functions are strongly related to the Spleen being a key organ of the digestive system and maintaining healthy metabolism function.

The Spleen transforms food digested by its partner, the Stomach, into a refined essence, transporting it up to the Lung to be made into Qi and blood to nourish and fuel the rest of the body. Without the proper functioning of the Spleen and Stomach, you can suffer from lack of energy and deficient blood, as well as impaired immune functioning.

Interestingly, Chinese medicine knows that the emotions that most affect the healthy functioning of the Spleen and the Stomach are worry, over-thinking, and anxiety. If you “ruminate” and obsess constantly about life experiences, you literally are not “transforming” them into positive fuel to motivate taking action and moving forward in life. If you really want good digestive health and healthy metabolism function, it’s important to keep these emotions in check! Conversely, if you feel as if you can’t control these emotions, it may be a sign from your body that these digestive organs are imbalanced and need help.

According to Five Element Theory, the Spleen’s element is Earth. Just as Mother Earth and the soil take in and transform sunshine, water, and fertilizer to help all of Nature grow, it is the Spleen’s job to refine and create energy from food for your body, mind, and spirit to flourish.

  • Late summer is the season associated with the Spleen (and Stomach). It’s most beneficial to nurture these organs during this time!
  • The mouth is the sensory organ related to the Spleen. If you have any issues such as dry mouth or bad breath, it may be a sign that your Spleen and Stomach function are compromised.
  • The muscles are the tissue associated with the SpleenIf your muscles are weak, flabby, or tire easily, or you have cellulite, varicose veins, or bruise easily, you may have a Stomach or Spleen dysfunction.
  • The taste that corresponds to and supports the Spleen is sweet, according to Five Element theory.  Ever wonder why you reach for sugary foods during your afternoon slump? The taste of sweet naturally supports the healthy function of your Spleen and provides an instant boost of energy. Nurture yourself and enjoy sweet foods in moderation (like fruit or healthy desserts).
  • Worry, anxiety, and over-thinking are the emotions associated with the Spleen. Experiencing these or any emotions chronically or excessively can damage the Spleen and your digestive health, as the digestive system also processes the thoughts and emotions that you internalize. You may feel fatigued, “low,” “heavy,” or “foggy,” both physically and emotionally.  Take action to transform your life experiences into positive thoughts to energize yourself in mind, body, and spirit!


Many foods have an essence that supports the Spleen, especially yellow or orange foods, foods harvested in the late summer or root vegetables that grow directly in the ground. An acupuncturist might regularly prescribe these foods for patients when trying to build strong Spleen function.

  • Among them are mango, papaya, Chinese barley, Chinese red dates, lotus seed, peanuts, and radishes (daikon, red), and most root vegetables (yams, carrot, taro)Grains in moderation such as rice, oatmeal or noodles will also support your digestive system. Congee, a gruel made with watered down rice, is a famous remedy in China for patients who need to rebuild their strength for healing.
  • Spices such as fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic and ginger have a warm essence that is very beneficial for Stomach and Spleen function and health.  After you eat ice cream, sushi, or other cold or raw foods, have some ginger candy or chai tea to warm up your Stomach and Spleen!
  • Crave sweets? Listen to your body and go ahead and have a taste of something sweet, the taste associated with the Spleen! Because these organs are directly involved in the production of Qi, boosting these organs with a little sweetness can help you perk back up when you’re feeling tired!









Some ways to take care of your Spleen:

1) Don’t worry, be happy! Worry, anxiety, and over-thinking are the emotions that in excess have an especial impact on your digestive health. Be conscious of patterns of over-thinking experiences or worrying about the future based on the past; make an effort to transform these experiences into useful, inspiring thoughts and lessons learned!

2) Eat regular meals and eat adequately and sensibly; don’t go on extreme diets! If you eat too little or irregularly, or diet without proper support, i.e. practicing Qigong, you can upset the delicate balance of the Spleen and weaken your entire body in the long run.

3) Avoid eating too many dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt, which produce mucus and hamper the function of the Spleen, resulting in dampness. Dampness interferes with the Spleen’s work of transforming and transporting nutritive essence from food and ferrying fluids around the body, causing bloating, water retention, and weight gain.



The dabao is on the meridian of the Spleen; its clinical name is SP-21. Massaging this point can help strengthen your digestive system and relieve side effects of chemotherapy.

The dabao is a full hand’s width under the armpit on the side of the rib cage. Use your palm to massage this point slowly and gently for about five minutes, starting with your left side and repeating on the right.

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