Chronic fatigue or bruise easily? Bloating and indigestion? Overthinking and craving sweets? If you said yes to any of these horribly common ailments, then you might have what we, Chinese medicine geeks, like to call Spleen Qi Deficiency.
It is an all too common disharmony we see in the clinic. Spleen Qi deficiency can roughly be translated into poor/weak digestion, but let's first take a look at the role of the spleen in TCM.
SYMPTOMS OF SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY
Below is a list of the most common ailments seen in a person with spleen qi deficiency. It is not necessary to have all of them, but recognizing 3 or more symptoms may indicate a spleen disharmony.
CAUSES OF SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY
DIET: The most common reason for a qi deficiency spleen is the quality and quantity of foods you are consuming. Over-consumption of raw or cold foods, including fruit and vegetable juices extinguishes your digestive fires and clogs the subtle processes of your spleen. Eating too many oily, dense, and fried foods also disrupt those processes. The spleen's flavor is sweet, but eating too many sweets (especially with white, processed sugar), will definitely prevent the spleen from being able to derive clear food essence and qi. Consuming too little protein (such as extreme dieting) can also impact the functioning of your spleen to create healthy flesh and muscles.
EMOTIONAL: The spleen's emotion is pensiveness. Thinking itself isn't a bad thing, but when your thoughts become repetitive and you begin to worry obsessively, it can weaken the spleen. Alternately, a weak spleen will also cause over-thinking.
CLIMATE: The spleen is extra sensitive to dampness, or anything that will clog it's ability to derive clear essence from food particles. Thus, a climate heavy in dampness and humidity can make you more prone to spleen qi deficiency.
EXERCISE: Strengthening your body's muscles will prevent your spleen from becoming too bogged down with water and dampness. Regular exercise can not only improve your digestion, but immunity and even energy level.
PAY ATTENTION TO TEMPERATURE: Yes it is important to make sure you are eating enough warm and thoroughly cooked foods, it is also important to pay attention to the intrinsic temperature of the food's quality. For example, you can heat up cucumbers but they still won't be as heating as raw ginger. Make sure you are incorporating foods with a warm temperature quality as well.
We live in a culture rampant in spleen qi deficiency...where we drink iced water while eating dinner in front of the TV, worry endlessly about our relationships and jobs, and eat an abundance of damp causing foods. It's no wonder conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, celiac disease, diabetes, and chronic fatigue affect one too many. However, incorporating a few of these food items or health tips into your daily life can considerably improve your Earth element and spleen functionality to feel more centered, balanced, and harmonized.