Home » Chinese medicine and you » My Aching Spleen

My Aching Spleen

So here it is, the day after Halloween. Depending on where you live you may not have gotten all that many trick or treaters last night, so you probably have a lot of candy left over. Be careful not to each too much at once—it’s like your mother always said, you might end up with a tummy ache. But really, what is this all about?

According to Chinese medicine, the two organs most related to digestion are the stomach and the spleen. We all know what the stomach does, but most of us have no idea what the spleen does. In western science we consider the spleen a secondary immune organ, mostly filtering white blood cells. However, in Chinese medicine it may be the most important organ in the body!

The stomach and spleen work together to digest the food that we eat. The role of the stomach is to “rot and ripen” the food. But it needs the spleen in order to do this. The spleen’s job is to keep the stomach warm so that it can break down our food. In Chinese medicine we often say that the stomach is the pot and the spleen is the stove.

What this means in plain language is that the food we eat should support our digestive organs. When we eat a lot of cold, raw, or sweet foods, it dampens and cools the spleen, making it more difficult for the stomach to efficiently process food. What happens then? Well, for starters, we get a stomachache. In addition, we might have a whole host of other conditions including water retention, weight gain, acid reflux, irritable bowels—pretty much anything having to do with the digestion.

So, enjoy the candy, but like your mother warned you—everything in moderation!

Happy November 1st!


2 thoughts on “My Aching Spleen

  1. Hi Holly,

    Any specific food you’d suggest to eat to promote spleen health? I guess the opposite of cold, raw, and sweet… cooked, hot and sour? 😉


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