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. Weakening of this vital energy force results in Spleen Qi deficiency which leads to symptoms like fatigue, bloating, poor immunity, and several others.

Tired all the time? Feeling bloated? Mental fogginess? Poor digestion? Overwhelmed with worry? Stay tuned to find out the reason….

Learning to cater to Spleen Qi deficiency can promote general wellness. In this blog, we will enlighten you with different effective tips to fight this imbalance and enhance your overall health.

Following some good lifestyle changes like stress management and light exercise such as Tai Chi play a significant role in enhancing Spleen Qi. 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, alone, can be a diagnosis or becomes an element of other bigger problem, resulting in a wide range of imbalances. Many times the Spleen and Stomach deficiencies are combined (sometimes Lung Qi and Spleen too).

Spleen Qi Deficiency

They are linked with our meridians, certain points of the body that are ruled, emotions they monitor, even colors and seasons they most affiliate with. They comprise a grouping that includes both physical and mental and emotional process.

The Spleen ("SP") and Stomach ("ST") Organ Systems and meridians are linked and work 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 function the most range from 7am to 9am (ST) and 9am to 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.

Western Medicine views Spleen as a fusion of the spleen and the pancreas and their relevant functions, mainly of releasing 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. Here, nutrients from the food are absorbed and the unused matter is separated. This basic but chief point of digestion.

Liver Qi DAO Labs

Spleen is an essential organ in the production of Qi, sourcing it from the food and drink we consume referred to 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 Qi produced 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 claims that “The reason why Spleen Qi Deficiency exists is due to overexertion, poor dietary habits, and/or emotional imbalances. A weakened Spleen Qi can result from irregular eating (eating frequently without considering portion sizes), taking a lot of cold or raw foods and drinks, skipping meals, poor caloric intake, or binge-eating. Overthinking, worrying, or feeling anxious stresses your mind and harm Spleen Qi. Dampness negatively affects the Spleen and leads to 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 leads to the appearance of many signs and symptoms. Some of the common ones include poor appetite, bloating or abdominal distension, tiredness after eating and even during the day, mental fatigue/fogginess, pale complexion, loose stools, bowel movements with undigested food, easy to bruise, and even beyond them.

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

Spleen Qi deficiency can be easily addressed through good dietary habits. Consume warm and nutrient-dense foods throughout the day frequently. Put an end to irregular eating habits like overeating that can impact Spleen function. Poor protein intake and little to no dairy can weaken Spleen.

Avoid cold raw foods as they can be a hindrance in digestion and aggravate the deficiency. Choose comfort foods such as roasted root vegetables, neutral foods like rice, and lean proteins such as chicken. Including neutral foods and mildly sweet things to your diet can help replenish Spleen Qi balance effectively.

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 are a remarkable source to restore balances in the body, especially of the digestive system. Get the following choices prescribed from a registered Chinese medicine practitioner.

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

Explore ways to manage your stress and achieve more mindfulness to optimize gut health effectively.

Boost your Spleen Qi and uplift overall well-being by incorporating lifestyle changes like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and mild yoga. Participating in these exercises consistently enhances gentle movement, deep breathing, and mindful relaxation, leading to a revitalized Spleen's energy flow. Moreover, they play a significant role in lowering stress, enhance digestion, and bring about a harmonious mind-body connection, essential for optimal Spleen function.

Acupressure is yet another effective component of TCM that can be carried out at home to strengthen your body. I personally prefer the points 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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