When your Spleen function goes wrong, you’ll know, because your body will get behind with its housekeeping jobs. As you’ll see, these start with your digestion but go on to include your Blood and your muscles, your ability to think and your energy.
Since your energy is involved, that means your immune system too.
So, in Chinese medicine, your Spleen function is in its own way as important as that of your Liver .
For the time being, please just forget everything you know about the spleen organ which lies under your lower left ribs at the front.
In Western medicine its function is to purify your blood by filtering out old or damaged red blood cells and microbes, and to produce the white blood cells that act as guardians of your system.
Chinese medicine is based on a completely different attitude to health and disease.
Still largely based on ideas probably 3000 years old, its diagnoses seem a million miles from modern medicine.
Nevertheless, these concepts are in regular practical use worldwide in major hospitals and by practitioners of Chinese medicine including acupuncturists.
Traditionally it is said to ‘transform and transport’. It takes what comes from the Stomach, turns (transforms) it into Blood, fluids and Energy (‘Qi‘), and moves (transports) these round the body.
So its functions include what your intestines do in Western medicine: absorbing nutrients from the food passing through and turning them into the basic building blocks for blood.
Once the blood has picked up Qi from the Lungs and life from the Heart it becomes Blood (capital B). This is now the stuff that the Spleen uses to maintain health throughout the body, feeding and nourishing, sorting and clearing.
It also has the job of removing unwanted matter from wherever it finds it and transforming it back into usable Blood or passing it to the Kidneys to excrete.
When this function fails you see:
This means how we process information and think things through – working with its partner, the Stomach.
It is not how we decide what we do with our lives, or how we reach decisions and assert ourselves; it is not our memory.
Over-thinking is a problem for it, and can make it malfunction.
Many students and office-workers, counsellors, philosophers, academics and homoeopaths – and others whose job involves mainly the intellect – suffer from over-thinking.
With a healthy Spleen function and good Blood you have:
Consequently, you recover from shock quickly and you sleep well and feel great in the morning.
Conversely, if it fails to control Blood, you get bleeding which can occur from deficiency, as in menstrual bleeding that goes on and on, or wounds that don’t heal, or when combined with Heat, heavy bleeding.
Mainly this means being able to send clear Qi up to the head so that you can think clearly and quickly, can absorb information and be able to think things through properly.
However, being able to raise or ascend Qi also means that things don’t fall out of place. Where this function fails you see:
Here, it controls saliva, and manifests on the lips. Full, healthy lips suggest it is healthy. People who chew or pick at their lips often betray the beginnings of Spleen Qi stagnation.
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Syndromes are the names given to patterns of illness as recognised in Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine if practised the traditional way doesn’t treat diseases as explained in Western medicine.
Instead, it diagnoses them in terms of, for example:
All this can seem overwhelming to someone demanding which acupuncture points to use for obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart attack, as I was asked yesterday (March 2014.) But I explained how under all his Western-defined problems there was just one main syndrome. For this there were definite recommended points. So he calmed down a bit.
This depends on whether the condition is full or empty and to a lesser extent on the factors causing it. In general, it includes:
More specifically, see the pages for each of the its syndromes.
The recognised syndromes that affect it are:
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