This small little organ lies in the upper far left part of the abdomen, to the left of the stomach. It is responsible for cleaning out our blood, making sure we have healthy clean blood.
The spleen is a fragile organ that plays an important role in maintaining internal energy, good digestion and stable body weight. Called the “digestive fire” in traditional Chinese medicine, it is an essential resource that should be nourished with warming foods.
Some important functions of the spleen are:
- It stores blood.
- It contains infection-fighting white blood cells which helps to fight invading germs in the blood.
- It controls the level of blood cells (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) in our body
- It filters the blood and removes any old or damaged red blood cells.
Some common causes of spleen pain include infections such as pneumonia, autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or liver diseases such as hepatitis.
When your spleen is not functioning as it should, you can experience these symptoms: gas, bloating, anaemia, fatigue, weakness, lowered immunity, poor appetite, loose stools or diarrhoea, frequent urination, lowered sex drive, amenorrhea (lack of menstrual bleeding), back and knee pain, oedema of the abdomen, poor muscle tone, the inability to focus or concentrate, low vitality, a need to clear the throat after eating, blood spots under the skin, easy bruising, lack of sensation of taste, prolapsed organs, post nasal drip, runny nose and an inability to lose weight.
Strengthen the Spleen
To strengthen the spleen, avoid cold foods and eat foods that are easily digestible such as lightly steamed foods, soups and warm/room temperature drinks. Herbal teas or infusions after meals can promote good digestion.
Foods that tone up the spleen are: dates, grapes, pears, yams, sweet potatoes, cucumber, carrots, melon, cereals, liquorice, honey, cinnamon and aniseed. Others are grains such as millet, amaranth, quinoa.
Stimulant and carminative herbs such as garlic, cumin, ginger, cloves, fennel, coriander and black pepper. Cayenne pepper is a great stimulant herb yet it can be too warm for some people and overheat their system. Other herbs are ginseng, liquorice and cardamom. Spice up your food with spices that are not too hot but just enough to fuel the fire and add flavour to food.
Avoid sugar and fat.
Excessive sugar which overworks the pancreas is not good for the spleen. It is important to avoid foods that are “damp” such as alcohol, fat, fast sugars and excessive quantities of dairy products.
Avoid erratic eating patterns
The spleen is sensitive to erratic eating habits and can be weakened by skipping breakfast, copious or late dinners, and snacking.
Remember to unwind
If the spleen fails to respond to a good diet, it may be overburdened by stress, insufficient exercise, excessive worry, illness, or a climate or environment that is too damp. The main symptoms of poor spleen function are: indigestion, cold limbs, fatigue, loose stools, and oedema.
Every organ in the body has a unique function. Let's feed our body with the right fuel to power our body's systems.
Credit: Hindustan Times, Cleaveland Clinic, Healthline