What is Spleen Qi Deficiency & How to Deal With It?

Lenore Cangeloso

By Lenore Cangeloso


What is Spleen Qi Deficiency & How to Deal With It?

In the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the concept of Spleen Qi deficiency holds significant importance as it is believed to underlie a range of health issues. The Spleen, according to Chinese Medicine theory, plays a vital role in digestion, energy production, and overall vitality. Spleen Qi deficiency arises when this essential energy force weakens, leading to symptoms like fatigue, bloating, weakened immunity, and more.

Tired all the time? Feeling bloated? Mental fogginess? Poor digestion? Overwhelmed with worry? Read on to find out a possible reason why….

Understanding how to address Spleen Qi deficiency can pave the way for enhanced well-being. This article dives into effective strategies to combat this imbalance and promote optimal health.

Lifestyle adjustments, including stress management techniques and gentle exercises like Tai Chi, can further support Spleen Qi enhancement. From incorporating Qi-boosting foods such as warm and easily digestible meals to practicing mindful eating habits, read on to gain insights into restoring balance within your body.

Embark on a journey of revitalization by exploring time-honored Chinese Medicine wisdom to fortify your Spleen Qi and cultivate a harmonious mind-body connection.

Absorbing and Moving

Spleen Qi deficiency, often called Spleen Qi Xu is a very commonly diagnosed imbalance within Chinese Medicine theory. Essentially this means that the functioning of the Organs of digestion are weak, have been compromised, or are not working to full capacity. This can be a stand alone diagnosis or can be a part of a greater condition leading to a variety of imbalances. Often times we see a combined deficiency of the Spleen and Stomach (or even of the Lung Qi and Spleen).

Spleen Qi Deficiency

In Chinese Medicine theory, our Organs have elaborate functional systems associated with them, known as "Organ Systems". They are associated with our meridians, specific areas of the body they govern, emotions they control, even colors and seasons they most resonate with. They include a specific grouping of not only physical, but mental and emotional processes.

The Spleen ("SP") and Stomach ("ST") Organ Systems and meridians are associated and resonates with the Earth Element, season of summer, the color yellow, the flavor of sweetness and upon the Chinese Medicine Body Clock the hours the SP and ST are most active are between 7am-9am (ST) and 9am-11am (SP). The Spleen's main focus is to absorb food and nutrients and begin the process of moving them where they need to go.

From a western medicine perspective- it is thought that the Spleen is actually a combination of the spleen and the pancreas and their associated functions, particularly of secreting digestive enzymes.

Functions of the Spleen

The Spleen's main function is to help assist its "yin-yang pair" of the Stomach in digestion, and more specifically in the “transformation and transportation “ of food. This is the process of absorbing nutrients from the foods we choose and separating the unusable, or waste matter. The basic and most essential aspect of digestion.

Liver Qi DAO Labs

It is the main organ in the production of Qi, deriving it from the food and drink we consume known as Food Qi/ Gu Qi. There are various types of Qi within the body- this is a very in-depth topic, (more on this here). The particular type of Qi made from the Spleen is the foundation of our Blood.

The Spleen's crucial role in the digestion of our food, as well as the production of Qi and Blood, is the foundation of health.

An article published in the journal Science Direct states that “Spleen Qi Deficiency is caused by overexertion, poor dietary habits, and/or emotional imbalances. Irregular eating (eating at varied times and amounts), consuming too much cold or raw foods and drinks, skipping meals, not eating enough, or overeating can all weaken Spleen Qi. Overthinking, worrying, or feeling anxious can lead to mental strain and harm Spleen Qi. Dampness weakens the Spleen and creates Spleen Qi Deficiency.”

Spleen Functions from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
  • Central Organ in the Production of Qi
  • Central Organ of the Digestive System
  • Controls the Blood
  • House the Yi, the shen associated with the Intellect
  • Opens to the mouth, manifests within the lips
  • Governs the muscles
Signs and Symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency

Spleen Qi deficiency may manifest in various ways for different people, but common signs and symptoms that may occur are, but not limited to— poor appetite, bloating or abdominal distension, fatigue after eating, tiredness, mental fatigue/fogginess, pale complexion, loose stools, bowel movements with undigested food, easy to bruise.

Liver Qi Stagnation

Imbalances may be created by:
  • Constitution
  • Irregular diet
  • Overwork, too much stress
  • Too many cold, raw foods
  • Overwork
  • High emotional stress
  • Mental Strain
  • Chronic Illness

Common Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Fatigue, Brain Fog, Mental Lassitude
  • Obesity
  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Irregular Bowel movements
  • Inhibited urination
Dietary Recommendations

To address Spleen Qi deficiency, it's crucial to adjust your diet to support its vitality. Favor warm and nourishing foods consumed at consistent intervals throughout the day. Avoid irregular or excessive eating, as these habits can weaken the Spleen's function. Inadequate protein intake or extreme dietary restrictions can also impact the Spleen negatively.

Liver Qi Stagnation

Steer clear of cold raw foods, as they may hinder digestion and exacerbate deficiency. Instead, opt for comforting options like roasted root vegetables, neutral foods like rice, and lean proteins such as chicken. Incorporating neutral or slightly sweet foods into your diet can also restore Spleen Qi balance effectively.

Foods That Help
  • Rice, Millet
  • Cooked Vegetables
  • Lean Meats
  • Spices such as Cinnamon, Cardamom, Honey, Ginger, basil, cloves, dill, fennel seeds, cooked or roasted garlic, nutmeg
  • Yi Yi Ren- Pearl Barley- This tasty and food-grade herb can help to soothe digestive function and dry dampness.
  • Ginger- Amazing to help warm the body and promote healthy digestive function, it can also help stop nausea and ease symptoms from food poisoning.
Chinese Herbal Recommendations

Herbs can be such a great way to help with imbalances, especially of the digestive system. Please check in with a Chinese medicine practitioner to find out if these are good choices for you!

Liver Qi Stagnation

  • Codonopsis (Dang Shen)
  • Astragalus (Huang Qi)
  • Atractylodes (Bai Zhu)
  • Hoelen (Fu Ling)
  • Dioscorea (Shan Yao)
  • Lotus seed (Lian Zi)
  • Coix (Yi Yi Ren)
  • Dolichos (Bian Dou)
  • Jujube (Da Zao)
  • Citrus (Chen Pi)
  • Shen-chu (Shen Qu)
Lifestyle Recommendations

Learning ways to help control stress and bring about more mindfulness can be very beneficial when trying to optimize gut health.

You can also elevate your Spleen Qi and enhance overall well-being by integrating lifestyle practices like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and gentle yoga. Engaging in these exercises regularly promotes gentle movement, deep breathing, and mindful relaxation, all of which invigorate the Spleen's energy flow. These practices help alleviate stress, improve digestion, and cultivate a harmonious mind-body connection, vital for optimal Spleen function.

Acupressure is another great activity that you can do at home to help support your body, My favorite points to use would be Stomach 36, and Spleen 6, Ren 12. These points might also benefit from using Moxa.

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on hello@mydaolabs.com

Lenore Cangeloso, LAc is a state-licensed and board certified Acupuncturist and Herbal medicine practitioner. She is the owner of Wild Earth Acupuncture in Portland Oregon. Lenore has spent many months traveling to deepen her knowledge of the human body, and is a dedicated and skilled practitioner that strives to help you achieve optimal states of wellbeing. You can learn more about Lenore at wildearthacupuncture.com.

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