The Spleen - Its Role May Surprise You!

By Nancy Smorch

I had another appointment with the acupuncturist and BodyTalk practitioner today. One of the things that keeps popping up from her evaluation is my spleen. Apparently, my spleen is “clogged,” or weak, in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This little bit of information has sent me on an interesting journey in a short time.

I wanted to know what I could do to support the spleen. What I found was extremely interesting - and some of it was even fun, like this video put together by some Harvard Medical School students. They actually did a really good job!

So according to Western Medicine, the spleen filters the blood and is involved with the production and destruction of red blood cells. However, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the spleen is the main organ for digestion and extracting nourishment from our food.

But if you dig a little deeper, there’s an emotional component to the spleen in TCM. Thinking and digestion are very similar, and interestingly, the spleen adapts both food and information into something we can use. The spleen needs to process information, and in our information-overloaded society, the spleen is definitely stressed and depleted.

Here is a really great article that explains the spleen in terms of TCM.

After reading it, here are two beliefs I am working on for myself, both in terms of actual food and “emotional” food:

-I completely deserve physical nourishment. I trust there will always be enough nourishment available. What foods support the spleen? Apparently, all sorts of root vegetables - squash, carrots, potatoes, yams, turnips, and onions. Brown rice, butter, almonds, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg are also supportive. Warm lemon water will be good for the spleen, while chilled water should be avoided. This is really fascinating stuff for me!

-I know that “digesting” emotions and situations has been a challenge for me over the years. One thing I have been working on is to be able to take in a situation (eat food), learn from it (digest it), then let go what doesn’t serve me (elimination). I think years of worrying about what others think of me as well as overanalyzing situations has taken its toll on my spleen.

Let the healing begin :)