The spleen in Chinese medicine is in charge of many key processes within our bodies. I want to clarify upfront that the Chinese medicine spleen is very different from the western medicine spleen. In western medicine the spleen is part of the lymphatic system or the immune system, where as in Chinese medicine the spleen deals with digestion. Why is there such a huge difference in the spleen function between cultures? The answer, in my opinion, lies within the history of how these medicines evolved. In the Chinese culture, for thousands of years, it was considered inappropriate to dissect a human body. Therefore, a lot of the early Chinese theory about the body was inaccurate. Western medicine, however, was completely different in its approach and was very familiar with the human body. Each approach allowed for different development of medicine theories, western medicine is focused on very small parts of the body while Chinese medicine is focused on the overall whole system. To make a long story short, the spleen in Chinese medicine should probably be called the pancreas due to its contributions to the digestive process. Please keep this in mind as you read on about the functions of the spleen.
The spleen has many functions in Chinese medicine. First, the spleen is in charge of the transformation and transportation process. Transformation refers to the transformative process where food is broken down and energy is gained. The transportation process refers to the movement of this energy throughout the body. The “food energy” is called the Gu Qi in Chinese medicine. This energy ascends into the lungs from the spleen to be distributed by the circulation system. Without the Gu Qi our bodies would not have enough energy to properly function. Another function of the spleen is to provide energy to keep the blood inside the blood vessels. As a result, if the spleen is imbalanced, we end up with a lot of bleeding signs and symptoms. A third function of the spleen is to help regulate water passages within the body. This is why dampness accumulates when the spleen is not working properly. A fourth function of the spleen is to control the health and movement of our muscles. This is easily explained in western medicine when someone either doesn’t eat enough or has chronic bad digestion. One of the first things that the body breaks down is our muscles. These are the basic functions of the spleen in Chinese medicine.
There are many signs and symptoms of the spleen working improperly. If the spleen doesn’t have enough energy to do its job then a patient is diagnosed with Spleen Qi Deficiency. The symptoms of this are as follows: pale face, fatigue, poor appetite, loose stools, and bloating.
Another name for the spleen meridian is the Foot Tai Yin meridian. The Hand Tai Yin meridian is the lung meridian showing the inner relationship between the spleen and the lungs. There are 21 points in the spleen meridian. The meridian runs from the medial side of the big toe (SP-1) up the body in between the 7th intercostal of the ribs (SP-21). The time of the spleen is between the hours of 9-11 am in the morning. The spleen is a yin organ and its paired yang organ is the stomach. A healthy spleen can be shown in the vibrant color of the lips, its emotion is worry and its element is earth. The spleen meridian has a lot of commonly used points, below are a list of the most common ones.
SP-3- This point regulates the entire function of the spleen. If the spleen is in a state of imbalance, this point is used.
SP-6- This is a very common and wonderful point. This point is the intersection point of the spleen, the liver and the kidney meridians. It helps regulate all three organs and is a great point for putting the body back in balance.
SP-8- This is a great point for helping with constipation
SP-9- This is the main point for dampness accumulating in the body due to a spleen dysfunction. When any dampness is present, we needle this point to help remove it.
SP-15- A great point for regulating the digestive tract, including pain in the abdomen, constipation and loose stools.
SP-21- This point is called the great Luo and is used for whole body imbalances including tight chest, whole body pain, and weakness of the limbs.
This is the overview of the spleen and the spleen meridian.