The Spleen is one of the main digestive organs in traditional chinese medicine, paired with the Stomach. A yin organ, the Spleen is responsible for taking food from the Stomach and turning it into gu qi (‘Food qi’). It is an essential organ in TCM, responsible for nourishing all the other organs via its transformation and transportation functions.

The main symptoms of imbalance in the Spleen include loss of appetite, blood deficiency (anemia), indigestion, muscular atrophy, fatigue, bloating and jaundice.

Its transformation function creates Jing Wei (or Jing Qi) from food and water. Jing Wei is a part of ‘acquired qi’ or ‘postnatal qi’ and therefore the Spleen is said to be the ‘root of the postnatal’.  The other part of acquired qi is derived from the Lungs.

Spleen symbolism from the Classified Collection of Medical Recipes. Picture from Welcome Images. Text reads: Spleen: Qi ofEarth, essence of Earth. Its colour is yellow. It looks like an inverted bowl. Its spirit has the form of the wind. Heart engenders yi (thought), which is transformed into a Jade Woman. She is 7 cun tall. She patrols about the treasure-house of the spleen.
Spleen symbolism from the Classified Collection of Medical Recipes. Picture from Welcome Images. Text reads: Spleen: Qi ofEarth, essence of Earth. Its colour is yellow. It looks like an inverted bowl. Its spirit has the form of the wind. Heart engenders yi (thought), which is transformed into a Jade Woman. She is 7 cun tall. She patrols about the treasure-house of the spleen.

While the lungs sprinkle a fine ‘mist’ of water vapour throughout our bodies, the Spleen has an important part to play in this process, sending refined and purified water upwards to the lungs so that they can carry out this function. The Lungs also combine Gu Qi with Kong Qi (‘air qi’) and Yuan Qi (‘original qi’) to form Zhen Qi (‘upright qi’). (types of Qi)

It also plays a central role in the creation of blood. Gu Qi is sent by the Spleen up to the Heart where it combines with prenatal qi to form blood. It keeps blood within the vessels and if there is anemia or hemorrhaging of blood, look to the Spleen.

The Spleen also processes all of the inputs that we receive from our external environment. When we read, watch tv, browse the internet, walk through the city – all of these events are ‘processed’ by the Spleen. In modern culture, this can often overwork the Spleen and lead to deficiency syndrome. Slowing down our activities and focusing on one thing at a time reduces the workload of our Spleen. Meditating is also a wonderful way to rejuvenate the Spleen, it finally having a quiet time where it can recharge its energy.

When we are lacking in Qi we should look to the Spleen as the most likely place to be out of balance.

Cold and frozen foods tax the Spleen. By lowering the temperature of the Spleen, they force it to warm up again so that it may digest food. Cold juices, though full of nutrition, can be harmful to the Spleen if they are laden with ice and consumed too often. Warm soups, in contrast, are a wonderful way of treating the Spleen and warming it up with nutritious ingredients.

The Spleen is of the element Earth and opens into the lips and mouth (Saliva is its fluid in the mouth). A lack of taste can indicate a problem with the Spleen. It governs the muscles and limbs. When the Spleen is balanced, our muscles and limbs will be supple and strong and our circulation will be efficient.

Our yí (‘thinking’ or ‘thought’) is housed in the Spleen. Being able to concentrate and focus is a sign of healthy Spleen qi. This can also be viewed in terms of worrying or overthinking. When we cannot stop thinking about something or become overly protective of a thought or idea, it is a sign that our Spleen is out of balance.

Its colour is yellow, emotion is worry, taste is sweet and it is most active from 9am to 11am,