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Condition Index

The functions of the TCM Spleen (pancreas)


The main function of the Spleen is to help the Stomach in digestion by transforming and transporting Gu (food) Qi or essence from the food, and separating the waste.  This extraction of Gu Qi is the basis for the production of Qi and blood.  This combines with Qi from the Lungs to form Zong Qi.  The formation of blood also takes place with the Heart.  Because the Spleen gives the material basis for the production of Qi and blood, it is referred to as the root of post-heaven Qi.

The functions of the Spleen (pancreas) are:

     - Governs transformation and transportation

     - Controls the blood

     - Controls the muscles and four limbs

     - Opens into the mouth and shows its health on the lips

     - Controls the raising of Qi

     - Houses thought

     - Effects dreams



Governs transformation and transportation


Once the food Qi is extracted and formed the Spleen transports this to various organs and other parts of the body.  “Food enters the Stomach, the refined part goes to the Liver, the excess goes to the sinews.  Food enters the Stomach, the unrefined part goes to the Heart, the excess goes to the blood vessels…fluids enter the Stomach…the upper part goes to the Spleen, the Spleen transports the refined essence upwards to the Lungs.” (Simple Questions).  This shows the Spleens importance in the digestive process and the formation of Qi and blood.  If this functioning is diseased, there will be poor appetite, loose bowel movements, bad digestion, bloating, and other digestive discomforts.

The Spleen separates clean and unclean fluids also, the pure part goes up to the Lungs, and the unclean part goes down to the intestines and Kidneys for further refinement.  If this function is diseased, the formation of Dampness will occur (this is why it is said that the Spleen hates Dampness and likes dryness).  The Spleen is always treated when there is Dampness, Phlegm, or edema.  It is also easily effected by external Dampness.  Cold icy drinks damage the Spleens functioning, therefore impairing digestion.  The Stomach likes moisture.


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Controls the blood


It is Spleen Qi that keeps the blood in the vessels.  If the Spleen is deficient the blood may escape from the vessels resulting in various types of hemorrhaging. 

With the help of the Heart the Spleen is a major organ involved in the production of blood.  The Spleen extracts essential essence and Qi from the food and with the help of the Kidneys Yuan Qi, the Heart finishes the making of blood.  The Spleen is always treated when blood is deficient.


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Controls the muscles and four limbs


The Spleen transports its refined essences taken from food to nourish all tissues in the body.  When the Spleen is healthy the muscles on the limbs are well nourished.  The Spleen is paramount in determining the amount of energy one has, therefore when there is fatigue or tiredness the Spleen must be treated.


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Opens into the mouth and shows its health on the lips


Mastication releases certain elements which help prepare the Spleen to perform its functions.  This is why the mouth is directly related to the Spleen.  If the Spleen is healthy the mouth will be slightly moist, the lips will be lustrous and not dry, and the taste will be normal.  If the Spleen has heat the patient may complain of dry lips and a sweet taste in the mouth.  If Spleen Qi is deficient the patient will have pale lips.


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Controls the raising of Qi


The Spleen ensures that all internal Zang Fu organs stay in their place and do not fall or prolapse.  If the Spleen Qi is weak the Kidneys, Uterus, Stomach, Bladder, or anus may prolapse.  This raising action also refers to the raising of the food essences to the Heart and Lungs.  With its paired organ the Stomach which has a downward movement of Qi, these two must be in balance for proper digestion, Spleen Qi goes up, and Stomach Qi goes down.  This ensures the clear Yang to ascend and the turbid Qi to descend.


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Houses thought


The Spleen houses thought (thinking, worry, studying, concentration, focus, and memorization).  If the Spleen is weak, thought will be clouded and unclear.  Also excess thought can injure the Spleen.  The Heart and Kidneys also aid in thought:  The Spleen is more involved in thinking processes like work or school, the Heart is more involved with problem solving and long term memory, and the Kidneys nourish the brain and short term memory.  This shows why people can be genius in a particular field but absent minded in everyday life activities.


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Effects dreams


“If the Spleen is deficient, one dreams of being hungry.  If the dream takes place in late summer, one dreams of building a house.” (Simple Questions).  “If the Spleen is in excess, one dreams of singing and being very heavy…if the Spleen is deficient, one dreams of abysses in mountains and of marshes.” (Spiritual Axis).

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