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Spleen Qi Deficiency

Internal Dampness and Phlegm in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is paired with the Stomach and is related with food restore-the-middle-way.jpgassimilation in the body and fluid transformation. The Spleen function in this context is very different from the way that the spleen organ is viewed in western medicine. Spleen Qi Deficiency is associated with Internal Dampness, weight gain, digestive issues, and the emotions related to the Earth Element including an apathetic or dull lack of luster for life. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula for Spleen Qi Deficiency and Internal Dampness.

What Causes Spleen Qi Imbalances?
Typically, Spleen damage (TCM) occurs with poor lifestyle habits including an improper diet, too much exposure to a damp environment or damp weather, or a genetic pre-disposition to Spleen imbalances. Medications such as steroids and prolonged use of antibiotics can also damage the Spleen (TCM) and lead to Internal Dampness. Many of us were over-prescribed antibiotics as children, damaging are sensitive and underdeveloped digestive systems; this set the stage for chronic allergies, sinusitis, fungal infections, and digestive issues in our adult years.

Spleen Function TCM

  • Controls the raising of Qi
  • Contains the Blood
  • Transforms and transports foods and fluids

(Pancreas is part of the Spleen organ system in Chinese medical theory)

Common Symptoms of Spleen Imbalances
It is not necessary to have all of the indications of Spleen Qi Deficiency, but a multitude of symptoms would begin to suggest a pattern of Spleen Qi Deficiency:

earth-element-channels-tcmInsulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Spleen Qi Deficiency

Insulin resistance is when glucose is rejected by cells as use as fuel, and then re-circulated to the liver to be stored as fat. The Spleen is pivotal in the ability of the body to utilize glucose for energy and building muscle and tissue on a cellular level. One can easily see how, in the face of insulin resistance, the body begins to store fat, regardless of diet; thus the cry of so many that they cannot lose weight regardless of how restrictive their diet is. The Spleen energetic organ system is the organ in charge of "transformation of foods" according to Chinese medicine, and thus improves the way you utilize food.

Food and Spleen Qi Deficiency

Food therapy and dietary recommendations with Spleen Deficiency

Often, those with Spleen imbalances either have no appetite at all, or crave and over-eat sweet foods. Diet is important with Spleen imbalances, but an appropriate diet might not be what we associate with a healthy diet as raw foods, raw vegetables, cold salads, fruits and juices are to be avoided. Sweet foods would include processed and refined grains, white potatoes, sugars, and fried foods can also damage the Spleen function when over consumed, as can iced drinks. Learn more about Chinese Food Therapy.

There are actually sweet foods and herbs that help to repair the Spleen function(TCM) such as yams, carrots, winter squash, and beets; these hardy root vegetables should be baked or steamed. Legumes or beans, steamed vegetable, seeds, cooked greens, onion and garlic, mushrooms, and whole grains are also good choices to nourish the Spleen function. Eating a protein rich breakfast is crucial in maintaining Spleen health. Dairy products can exacerbate pathogenic Dampness for many people, but butter is okay for most.

The Spleen function allows us to assimilate foods consumed that evolve in to thought (likewise, over-studying can damage the Spleen). The Spleen function is pivotal in transforming Gui Qi, or food Qi, in to Blood, thus transporting nourishment to the Organ Systems.

Internal Dampness and Phlegm in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, all of the Earthly qualities are also present in our bodies; thus the saying that the body is a microcosm of the universal macrocosm. It makes perfect sense that our body would follow the same universal laws that govern everything around us.

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In the body, Dampness is pathogenic, and although Blood is wet, it is not part of pathogenic Dampness. Damp conditions are only diagnosed when the body stops managing fluids correctly as a certain amount of phlegm is necessary in the body. Dampness typically has an element of Spleen Qi Deficiency, but can also be related to Kidney Deficiencies and Lung Deficiencies.

Dampness tends to accumulate and sink. Excessive pathogenic fluid that blocks the free flow of Qi and Blood; the fluid becomes more viscous and sticky as conditions become more chronic and the fluids consolidate, becoming coagulated; they are then referred to as Phlegm. Chronic Damp conditions are tenacious and can take a very long time to clear up; think of sticky viscous phlegm lodged in your tissue and organs.
We are familiar with pathogenic Dampness affecting the Lungs-Sinuses, but Internal Dampness can develop in joints, muscle tissue, and the vessels; arthritis, rheumatism, and many types of paralysis are associated with Turbid Dampness according to TCM. Yeast overgrowth will almost exclusively occur in the presence of pathogenic Dampness as it requires a Damp environment to proliferate.

Symptoms that Indicate Internal Dampness:

Damp Patterns
Dampness rarely occurs all by itself; it combines with other pathogenic factors according to Chinese medicine including Cold, Heat, and Wind.

Cold tends to constrict and slow things down; Cold-Damp would be indicated by an aversion to the cold, a slowed metabolism, stiffness and soreness in the muscles and joints (osteo-arthritis), clear or white discharges and phlegm, quiet voice, thick white wet coated tongue, dull headaches, tiredness, and a desire for warm foods and drink. Prolonged Coldness would be associated with Yang Depletion.

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Much like a swamps’ water stagnates and becomes putrid, this pathogenic Dampness will transform in to Damp-Heat over time. Damp-Heat is indicated by redness, swelling, blisters, UTI's with burning pain, thick yellow/green phlegm, sticky yellow coat on tongue, rashes with redness and discharge, sores with puss, strong odors, and painful acne with redness and puss; herpes shingles are good examples as well as itchy, weepy psoriasis or eczema.

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Internal Wind Damp Cold - Wind Damp Heat
Wind-Damp would produce symptoms as above but with erratic patterns, moving from one place to the next as in migrating arthritic pains, and appearing and disappearing as in rashes moving from place to place. Internal Wind is often created from Liver Fire Rising.

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Note: External Dampness associated with allergies or a cold that produce mucus is related, but different from Internal Dampness and is explained in this article: Causes of Disease in Chinese Medicine.

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