The influence of the spleen on daily life is so numerous, the thought of writing an article on the subject seemed a daunting task. Yet what follows is a very brief overview of the beneficial functions and the numerous dysfunctions of one of the most influential organs in the body.
Having lived with a compromised spleen from early life, primarily due to a poor diet and stressful life, I can corroborate many of the symptoms described below from personal experience. Decades of struggling with the detrimental impact of various foods, including common health foods, on splenic powers have given me a deep insight into direct relationships between food and symptoms of a compromised spleen. These associations are included in the compilations below.
It was not that long ago that western medical science felt the spleen had very little value (given that it could be removed and the patient would still live a seemingly unaffected life). Of course, like the appendix (now proven to be a manufacturer of probiotics for the intestines), the spleen is gaining in popularity for its numerous valuable contributions to the upkeep of human health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognized the central role of the spleen, along with its numerous actions in support of other organs in the body for thousands of years. The outlines below compile the most significant discoveries surrounding the role of the spleen, both ancient and modern.
Among its many functions:
The spleen is the organ of moderation & harmonization. Excesses of all kinds, mentally, emotionally, dietarily, and with lifestyle habits, have influences on the spleen and the numerous organs that it affects.
The spleen is central to the transformation of food & drink into both physical energy and blood. It assists in the separation of the essence (strength) from the material benefits (nutrition) from food, then delivers each to their respective areas of the body where most appropriate.
The spleen is also responsible for holding the integrity of organs in their proper shape and location, with dysfunctions revealed in cases of varicose veins, hemorrhoids and prolapsed organs.
The spleen's actions on the digestive processes, if clouded by excesses or concentrates (like sugar), can lead to mental sluggishness and loss of memory. On the other hand, excessive thought and worry will affect the spleen leading to digestive disturbances.
The spleen is responsible for purifying the blood as well as storing a reserve of blood cells that can be helpful in the event of shock from the loss of blood.
The spleen is central to the regulation of bowel activity, with imbalances resulting in either constipation or diarrhea.
It is an integral part of the immune system, in that the spleen, along with the lymphatic system that it controls, plays a central role in the manufacture of antibodies that protect us against all pathogenic presences in the blood.
The spleen recycles iron for the production of new red blood cells and other purposes, therefore, when the spleen is stressed or not functioning properly, anemia can result.
Red Pulp of the Spleen: The red pulp of the spleen provides the blood-filtering function of the spleen. It destroys abnormal or old red blood cells and is a storage place for some elements of blood, including iron, white blood cells, immunoglobulin proteins (which counter various bacterial and viral infections that attack the mucous membrane, while some immunoglobulin create components like serotonin and histamine that prevent various types of food and skin allergies), and platelets (needed to help the blood the clot). It also contains phagocytes, which attack and ingest bacteria and other pathogens.
White Pulp of the Spleen: The white pulp of the spleen and lymphatic glands are made up of clumps of lymphatic tissue that produce lymphocytes, monocytes and plasma cells, which in turn are capable of manufacturing over 100 trillion types of antibodies configured specifically to neutralize any type of antigen (pathogen or toxin).
One of the first signs of spleen stress is the need to clear the throat frequently, drippy or swollen sinuses, becoming spacey or flighty, the loss of the ability to concentrate, or difficulty comprehending written material.
More extreme cases of spleen dysfunction will result in a melancholy depression, heavy or extremely weak extremities, cold hands & feet, alcoholism, loss of appetite, edema, bloated belly, and a high susceptibility to infections.
There are three basic food groups that push the spleen into abnormal functioning:
1. concentrated sugars, sweets, and an excess of fruits. Sweets combined with oils or fats further stress the spleen
2. alcohol (including beer, wine, hard liquor, liqueurs, kombucha, honey meade, jun, etc.)
3. stimulants like coffee, green/black tea, yerba mate, cacao, even an excess of hot peppers,
compounded of course by combining any of these in the same day or same meal.
It is also true that small quantities of these food groups do little but move the spleen slightly toward out of balance (being, at times, a positive health strategy), whereas, in greater amounts the spleen is harmed, thus prompting the side effects mentioned above. Continual excesses of these food groups over time can lead to the more serious conditions mentioned below.
Organs Influenced by the Spleen
The spleen is influential in the functioning of most of the major areas of human physiology. The following is an indication of the most significant organ systems affected by the spleen:
As a result, the spleen is intimately involved in the development of:
digestion & nutrient assimilation
organ & vein integrity
Excesses & Deficiencies
The spleen is negatively affected by extremes of all kinds such as food deficiencies (dieting) or excesses (comfort food binges), too spicy or too cooling, too sweet or too bitter, or by stimulants & depressants.
The spleen can be harmed or burdened by:
excesses of certain food & drink (mainly sweets, stimulants, alcohol, oils and fats)
foods low in nutrition (most processed foods)
mental or emotional stress (like worry or fear)
overexertion of any kind
mineral imbalances (often caused by taking typical isolated mineral supplements like cal-mag, copper, zinc, etc.)
an acid constitution (reduces lymph drainage & bile production)
a sedentary lifestyle (also inhibits lymph drainage)
a toxic environment (overwhelming the detoxification functions of the spleen)
Possible Symptoms Related to Spleen Dysfunction
The above extremes can cause a number of beginning symptoms to appear, increasing in severity with prolonged exposure:
food & drink may stagnate in the stomach or bowels
the tongue may lose its ability to distinguish flavors
mental concentration and groundedness may disappear
the arms and legs may grow limp and tired
hands and feet may grow cold
discomfort and distention may be felt in the abdomen
edema (fluid buildup) in the extremities or around the heart
vomiting or diarrhea may develop
muscle loss or emaciation may occur
pathogens may proliferate throughout the blood, bowels & lymph
As can be seen here, the influence of the spleen on our health and quality of life is utterly pervasive.
What follows is a more complete list of common symptoms related to spleen dysfunction:
Energy Levels & Physical Strength
low energy, lethargy, extreme exhaustion,
can't get motivated to get anything done
low or damaged mitochondria (thus low ATP synthesis - the energy molecule)
anemia due to lack of iron availability
timidity, loss of desire to talk
soft voice, in extreme cases only able to whisper
general weakness, the arms and legs feel weak & tired
weak muscles, poor muscle tone
some types of paralysis
heavy and sore body
anxiety attacks, constant low grade anxiety/fear
loss of interest in life, loss of drive, lack of fortitude, low aspiration
spaciness, loss of focus, inability to concentrate, ungroundedness, difficulty comprehending what is read,
loss of memory
jitteriness, speediness, rapid talk, flightiness, ADD, ADHD
swollen, drippy, stuffy, congested sinuses and a general over-abundance of mucus in the body
clearing the throat frequently after consuming sweets, stimulants, oils, fats, fried food, or dairy
feelings of a lump of mucus the back of the throat that will not swallow
difficulty digesting fats, oils and fatty foods
lung and sinus congestion, waking up in the mornings severely congested
tendency to lung and bronchial congestion/infections
Digestion & Nutrient Assimilation
abdominal distention after eating
sleepiness after eating
heartburn, acid reflux
poor nutrient assimilation
loss of taste, the inability to distinguish flavors, lack of appetite
no thirst, thirst without the desire to drink
hungry, but unable to get much food down (indicating pathogens in the spleen)
sour stomach, belching
intermittent loose stools
frequency and urgency of urination
scanty, dark yellow or burning urination
poor circulation to the extremities (cold hands & feet)
difficulty keeping warm when the weather is only mildly cool
heat sensations, spontaneous sweating
swollen, puffy areas of the body usually beginning in a joint (ankles, knee, etc.), edema
pale face and lips
low oxygen utilization at the cellular level (oxygen utilization involves iron in some instances)
difficulty catching the breath, shortness of breath, feeling like a deep breath is not sufficiently oxygenating
frequent yawning in attempt to catch the breath
asthmatic breathing with the slightest exertion
Organ & Vein Integrity
white vaginal discharge
Lymph Gland & Immune Response
po or immune response, prone to infections
swollen & painful lymphatic glands, indicating liver congestion/poor bile flow/inflammation/infection
slow healing wounds
Addiction/Preference for Mood Altering Substances
recreational & pharmaceutical addiction
addiction to coffee, black/green tea, chocolate
strong attraction to sweet foods & drink
preference for added sugar in beverages
an aversion to bitter taste
preference for heavily spiced foods & extremely hot peppers
a general preference for extremes in life, both deprivation and excess
Correcting a Spleen Imbalance Can Be Easier Than It May Seem at First
Obviously, dietary and environmental stresses will have to be addressed to achieve optimal results. Yet, progress can be made in the meanwhile by adding spleen-building herbal nutrients to your health regime.
Spleen Builder and Herbal Oxygen were built for this purpose.
Spleen Builder is the daily maintenance program. Herbal Oxygen adds that extra punch when the diet or life stresses push the spleen too far out of balance (usually recognized by mucus congestion, difficulty catching the breath, frequent yawning, constant need to clear the throat, and/or lethargy).
Nourishing the spleen back to normal operating efficiency is accomplished with daily herbal support coupled with a moderation of extremes, both excesses and insufficiencies.
Lifestyle habits and diet will have to be addressed for long term results. Reducing sweets, stimulants and alcohol will go a long way to ease the strain on spleen powers.
As the spleen's natural powers are restored here is a list of potential benefits:
higher energy levels
greater physical strength and endurance
better, more stable moods
greater mental focus
improved mucus elimination
drier sinuses, less throat congestion/coughing
improved digestion & greater nutrient assimilation
improved lymphatic circulation, less swelling
better oxygen utilization, less yawning or sighing
easier breathing, easy to catch one's breath
improved organ & vein integrity
enhanced immune response.
If my spleen has been removed, will a spleen support program still help the body compensate for the loss?
The body has backup organs in some cases to fill in when an organ is missing or deficient in its operation. In the case of the spleen, the lymph glands, thymus and liver serve to fill in in various ways, as they also perform some of the functions accomplished by the spleen. Antibody production by the lymph & thymus, iron storage & bilirubin production by the liver are examples.
Spleen supportive herbal resources also have energetic influences which apply to many areas of related physiology supportive of splenic activity. Some of this supportive activity from other areas of the body today's science is aware of, and much still remains undiscovered, yet the body wisdom built into Nature's resources are comprehensive in their support functions, affecting all areas Nature knows needs to be supported for optimal health, especially when an organ is not functioning up to par, or is missing altogether.
Since the spleen is naturally involved in immune function activity and digestion, herbal resources also supportive of a strong immune system and good digestion can be helpful as well. Immune Power, Herbal C & Digestive Bitters are examples of tangent spleen supportive formulas.
The Bottom Line
The human body was designed to function perfectly for hundreds of years. Our lifestyle habits, environment and diet have taken their toll, shortening our lives, while making our few years we do have less enjoyable than they could be.
It is possible to reverse many of these effects with consistent application of Nature's herbal resources and a few dietary changes. Lifestyle habits and environmental changes may come slower, yet still, we can improve what years we still live with a few sensible choices.
Many blessings of health & success.
Enjoy the simple gifts from Nature.
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