In the realm of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), energy flows through a complex network of pathways known as meridians. Health and vitality depend on how freely energy moves through these energetic highways.
According to TCM, there are 12 meridians, each one corresponding to a particular organ. In this article, we’ll focus on the spleen meridian. While often overlooked, this pathway plays a pivotal role in our well-being.
The spleen meridian is nicknamed the “Minister of the Granary.” It helps the body store and extract nutrients from food and convert them into energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”). When this meridian becomes imbalanced, it can have profound effects on our physical and emotional health.
Spleen meridian structure
The spleen meridian consists of 21 acupuncture points, with two channels starting at the inner tip of each big toe. From there, it follows the inside of the foot to the inner ankle bone. It then ascends the inner leg toward the groin.
Once at the abdomen, the channels meet at the CV-12 point. From CV-12, an internal channel moves into the heart. The external channels then separate, with the left channel wrapping around the spleen and stomach.
The branches then run up the sides of the chest to the front of each shoulder. Finally, they move through the throat before reconnecting and ending at the base of the tongue.1
Spleen meridian function
The spleen meridian is considered a yin meridian and is paired with its yang partner, the stomach meridian. Like the stomach, the spleen is part of the Earth element.
Physically, the spleen sits on the left side of the abdomen, just below the stomach. It plays a key role in the immune system, producing white blood cells to protect the body from harmful invaders.2 It also stores and filters blood, removing waste and misshapen blood cells from circulation.
The spleen meridian is often referred to as the “Digestive Fire.” In TCM theory, the spleen works with the pancreas. Together they help the body extract nutrients from food and fluids and transform them into energy (qi).
However, TCM says that the spleen not only processes our food but our thoughts as well. The busy, fast pace of modern life puts a lot of pressure on the spleen. This can lead to blockages or imbalances in the spleen meridian.
According to traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen meridian is energetically connected to the following structural parts of the body:
- 1st and 2nd molars on top of mouth (T2, T3, T14, T15)
- 1st and 2nd bicuspids on the bottom of the mouth (T20, T21, T28, T29)
- 4th cervical vertebra (C4)
- 6th, 7th and 8th thoracic vertebrae (TH6, TH7, TH8)
- Spleen and pancreas
This meridian is also believed to house the body’s thoughts and intentions, or “wisdom mind,” known as Yi. It’s in charge of intellect, thinking, concentration, ideas, and memory. The spleen sends memories to the kidneys to be stored temporarily. The kidneys then usher those memories to the heart for long-term storage, according to TCM.3
The emotions linked with the spleen meridian are worry and anger. Excess spleen energy may lead to overthinking, brooding on the past, or “living in your head.” Imbalanced spleen energy may cause you to rationalize everything in your mind, rather than feel your emotions.
In contrast, balanced spleen energy promotes trust, openness, acceptance, honesty, and equanimity.
Just as an imbalance in spleen energy can trigger worry and anger, an excess of anger and worry can lead to imbalance in the spleen meridian. This is also true for other energetic connections in the spleen—they both impact and are impacted by the health of this meridian.
Common spleen meridian issues
TCM practice says that the basis for health and well-being is how freely energy flows through each meridian. When qi becomes blocked or imbalanced, symptoms or illness may arise.
Imbalanced spleen energy may lead to sluggish digestion. And since our minds rely on physical nourishment to work properly, spleen imbalance can lead to mental and emotional disharmony.
Spiritually, weak spleen energy disrupts the Yi, making it difficult to digest our thoughts.4 This may manifest as obsessive thinking, difficulty concentrating, or memory issues.5
Symptoms of spleen meridian issues
Since the spleen meridian serves as the body’s “Digestive Fire,” when its energy is not moving freely, digestion is often poor. This can lead to a variety of physical symptoms, including the following:
- Loose stools
- Weak appetite
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Cold hands and feet4 6
In addition, the lips may offer clues about spleen and pancreas health. Dry, pale lips may signal poor spleen function, while moist, red lips can be a sign of balanced spleen energy.
Spleen imbalance can also trigger many mental and emotional symptoms, such as:
- Worry or rumination
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Poor memory
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling unmotivated, bored, or lethargic
- Insomnia (especially difficulty falling asleep due to a racing mind)
- Difficulty setting clear boundaries
- Feeling overwhelmed or mentally drained
- Creative blocks, such as not following through on projects5 6
The Chinese body clock says that each meridian is most active at certain times. Spleen energy is believed to peak between 9 and 11 a.m.7 If your spleen meridian is imbalanced, symptoms may be more pronounced during this time.
If you experience many signs of spleen imbalance, you may want to consider visiting an acupuncturist or herbalist. They can diagnose and treat any imbalances to help you find relief.
How lifestyle impacts spleen meridian health
Many lifestyle habits can help keep your spleen meridian healthy. Making a few simple shifts in your day-to-day habits can often have a great impact.
Here are some lifestyle tips to promote a healthy spleen:
- Get enough rest. Overworking and overthinking weaken the spleen. So allow time to rest your body and mind. Get plenty of sleep, take regular breaks, and give yourself permission to slow down.
- Practice gratitude. When spleen energy is overactive, it’s easy to focus on the negative. The antidote? Daily gratitude. This helps you cultivate a positive mindset to support a calm state of mind. Simply jot down 3 things you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of your day.
- Mindfulness. Imbalanced spleen energy can cause us to worry about the future or ruminate about the past. To counter this, practice bringing your attention to the present moment. This can be done via meditation, breathing exercises, mindful walks, or simply sitting in nature.
- Try acupressure. It’s believed that massaging acupuncture points along the spleen meridian may encourage energy to move freely. Check out this video for a walkthrough of the spleen meridian points.
- Gentle exercise. Avoid intense exercise in favor of gentle movement, like Tai chi, walks, and yin yoga. For example, try this yoga practice made especially for the spleen meridian.
How diet impacts spleen meridian health
As mentioned, spleen energy is seen as your body’s “Digestive Fire.” Eating certain foods can make the digestive fire work harder to do its job, weakening spleen energy.
Foods that may weaken the spleen include raw or cold foods, sushi, and dairy. In contrast, eating warm or cooked whole foods means less spleen energy is spent on digestion.
Here are some spleen-friendly eating tips to help balance this meridian:
- Cook your food. Rather than eating cold salads with lots of raw veggies, cook your food. Simmer a pot of soup. Sauté some kale or spinach. Roast a tray of veggies. Or enjoy some cooked grains or protein.
- Say no to ice. Cold liquids weaken the digestive fire, making the spleen work overtime. So skip the ice, and drink room temperature or hot beverages instead.
- Warm it up. When eating leftovers, warm them up instead of eating them straight from the fridge.
- Eat orange foods. The color linked with the spleen meridian is orange. For this reason, many believe eating orange foods supports this energetic channel. Enjoy plenty of seasonal root veggies such as sweet potato, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
- Don’t skip meals. TCM theory says that the spleen is sensitive to erratic eating habits. Eating at regular intervals keeps your blood sugar steady and helps the spleen stay balanced.
- Eat mindfully. Instead of rushing through meals, slow down, chew your food, and eat without distraction. This helps your body stay in “rest and digest” mode to support your digestive fire.
- Drink ginger tea. Ginger is considered a warming food that nourishes the spleen. Sipping on ginger tea throughout the day may help support digestion, and in turn, your spleen.
In addition, while mild sweet flavors can nourish the spleen, too much sugar can lead to imbalance.8 To promote spleen health, limit sugary or highly refined foods. Instead, opt for natural sweetness from fruit or cooked root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips.
Supplements & herbs for spleen meridian health
Many Chinese herbs are said to support the spleen meridian, including:
- Xi yang shen (American ginseng)
- Huang qi (Radix astragali or astragalus)
- Gan cao zhi (Radix glycyrrhizae or licorice root)
- Dang shen (Codonopsis)
- Bai zhu (Atractylodes)
- Fang feng (Saposhnikoviae radix)
- Zhi shi (Aurantii fructus immaturus or immature bitter orange)9 10 11
Herbs and essential oils that support the Earth element may also benefit the spleen meridian. These include cypress, vetiver, patchouli, bergamot, thyme, and cinnamon.
Before trying any new herbs, it’s best to consult with a Chinese medicine practitioner, such as an acupuncturist. They can advise you on which herbs and dosage are right for your body.
Spleen Meridian stressor Virtual Item
A digital signature representing the spleen meridian is automatically scanned in the Link app, as well as in the Balance biosurvey. It can also be scanned in many of the Select and Elite biosurveys.
Spleen Meridian Virtual Item balancers
If the Spleen Meridian Virtual Item was out of range, you can see which balancer brought it into range in the Product or Service reports in the Link app, or in the Biomarker Progress Chart in the 5.0 software.
Additionally, using the ZYTO EVOX to reframe on emotional factors that may be impacting the spleen meridian can assist in balancing this area as well.
About Mindy Palmer
Mindy Palmer is a wellness writer and certified holistic health coach. She enjoys inspiring others to live healthier lives by creating informative content for leading-edge health and wellness brands.
1. “The Spleen Meridian, Sweet Flavos, and Balanced Biorhythms.” Jane Barthelemy: Five Seasons Medicine. Fiveseasonsmedicine.com.
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