The Spleen is the Official in charge of Transportation & Distribution. The Spleen works in harmony with the Stomach who takes in and processes substance into usable energy physically, spiritually and intellectually. The Stomach passes this energy on to the Spleen who serves as the transportation manager, distributing Qi throughout the body, mind and spirit. This includes air, fluids, food, thoughts, and ideas, as they all must be moved in order to be used. The Spleen transports blood, fluids, hormones and waste, physiologically and provides our body with movement. The Nei Ching states that, “the Spleen is the source of life for all the other organs.” It is responsible for feeding body, mind and spirit on every level. The Spleen, according to the ancients is the granter of the five tastes.
Physically the Spleen serves as a blood filter and is the largest lymphatic organ of the body. Old red blood cells are recycled in the Spleen. Platelets and white blood cells are stored there. The white blood cells, lymphocytes, defend against invading bacteria and viruses by producing antibodies to kill foreign microorganisms and stop infection. The Spleen serves an important role in distribution and transportation of the cells of our body. It keeps the blood and Qi in circulation throughout our bodies.
The Spleen requires the Stomach to take in, process, and release so that it can transport and distribute effectively. It can be likened to the trucks that distribute food to the markets. In order for the market to be stocked and individuals to have supplies, the trucks must deliver the right quantities and quality of goods. It is easy for us, in the modern world, to take this process for granted. We do not often realize the importance of the role until there is some issue such as weather, bad orders, no harvest, etc. The Spleen’s role in our body is vital and mustn’t be taken for granted. If the Spleen functions well, there is a balance in distribution of food, everyone has access to good foods. When the Spleen malfunctions, there can be deprivation in one area leading to starvation and fatigue and excess in another leading to spoilage.
The Spleen is an ascending meridian that is predominantly yin. It has 21 points. The last point, Spleen 21 is the Lou of Lou’s or Junction of Junctions. The Stomach, predominantly yang meridian is descending. When we eat and drink and process what we consume, it goes downward in alignment with the energy of descent and the Stomach meridian. The Spleen, however, keeps everything up and transports it, whether it be nutrients, thoughts or energy. The meridian flows against gravity lending toward a very supportive energy. The muscles and flesh (with the tendons and ligaments) hold the skeleton upright. Health and vitality of the muscles and flesh is reflective of Spleen health. The Spleen keeps the balance. It transports and distributes where needed. The Spleen has a 24 hour job and as JR says, “carrying vital Qi energy to every corner of the body, mind and spirit.”
In Nature, the Earth element demonstrates qualities that can be reflected in the Spleen - clay soil is not easily movable; it is solid, heavy, think and dense. When Spleen is out of balance, we see the qualities of heaviness, stagnation, and feeling stuck. When in balance, our thoughts, body and spirit move freely, allowing us to move forward, change and transform in our lives with motivation. The Spleen is directly linked to our ability to think laterally, look at things in different ways and advance. When out of balance, things can move cyclically around and around, ruminating, not going where it’s meant to. The Stomach can be likened to churning and churning of food, not ready to send the food on, rotting and ripening again and again. The Spleen can be likened to a conveyor belt, transporting but never delivering or distributing. In the other direction, the Stomach imbalance can look like not taking in, where the Spleen imbalance may look like taking in but doing nothing with it.
The power of the Earth element is decrease, which comes from the Spleen’s ability to transport, moving energy from one place to another, moving energy from one state to another through transformation. JR states, “The power to move and flow comes from the Spleen Official.” The seeds within the harvest remind us of the Wood within the Earth. The Spleen in balance produces great ideas, starts them in motion and completes the project. When out of balance, we can see the lack of motivation to start the process, everything is there but yet, initiation never occurs. Out of balance, we may see limited movement and transportation within. Out of balance, very often there is the inability to finish or follow through. It brings up the question, “What will one do with the energy that comes in?”
The Stomach and Spleen are extremely reliant on each other. The Stomach is super important because it makes the nutrient dense mixture, but it is of no use if it goes nowhere. The Spleen much transport and move that energy. The Spleen’s ability to transport the nourishment processed by the Stomach is the way in which we receive the warmth and love of Mother Earth in every part of our spirit. A Spleen lacking energy may be unable to move the energy up and around the system leading to stagnation. Physical attributes could include: uneven distribution of flesh, top or bottom heavy, edema, fibroids, stones, phlegm, menstrual clotting or ammenorea, varicose veins, or prolapses. Cold hands and feet may be a sign of deficiency within the Spleen. Furthermore, we can see stagnant thoughts and rumination. Coagulation of blood, phlegm and fluids in the body can be a dysfunction of the Spleen. When the Spleen is unable to hold the energy, we might see ongoing menses, edema, diarrhea, or forgetfulness. It is important to note that over exertion will tax the Spleen. During pregnancy, there is a generalized blood stagnation, which is necessary for the fetus to grow and develop. This is why along the Spleen Meridian there are forbidden points during pregnancy as they move blood.
The Spleen gifts us with dependability and reliability with very little recognition. On a mental and spiritual level imbalance can be exhibited in the following ways: giving up before beginning, mental stagnation and sluggishness leading to no forward movement, being stuck with obsessive thoughts or unprocessed thoughts which leads to thinking about the same thing over and over, worry, pensiveness, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, lack of consciousness and intent in forward movement. The Spleen can be harmed by excessive exertion, excessive sweet taste, and excess humidity.
The Spleen facilitates and requires movement on all levels. Even organ is affected by movement. All of the Officials and Elements need some level of movement. Human nature dictates care and empathy to others which requires the balance of doing one’s best without taking the energy of others on. The Earth element is linked to the mother figure, who provides us our first source of nourishment. Lack of love, lack of comfort and lack of nourishment can be reflected in the Earth Element. Being over-mothered or under-mothered can impact the ways we care for ourselves and others. We can be in a state of continuously seeking to fill a void. Imbalances in Earth can be seen as the give, give, give or take, take take energies. We are reminded that one cannot really care for another if one cannot take care of themselves. Either the givers or the takers are trying to get energy from their behavior due to not being fed on their own account. Sympathy is all about harvest, getting fed. This relates to both the Spleen and Stomach. Sympathy comes from desperation on some level. It also correlates with anxiety. It is important to consider, “Where does this come from?”
The correspondences of the Eat;h Element and hence the Stomach and Spleen Officials are:
• Sound: Singing
• Odor: Fragrant
• Season: Late Summer
• Climate: Humidity
• Fortification: Muscles
• Power: Decrease
• Taste: Sweet
• Emotion: Sympathy
• Color: Yellow
Classical Five Element Acupunct,re, Volume 3 by JR Worsley
Personal Class Notes ITEA 2019
The Spleen Official by Neil Gumenick