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General characteristics

General characteristics

Now recognised as an important organ with many functions for health, the spleen is a fist sized organ located high in the upper left side of the abdomen, lying beneath the ribs near the stomach. It is richly supplied with blood from the splenic artery and with lymph vessels and its structure is similar to a large lymph node.
When the spleen is removed, the person becomes particularly susceptible to infections.

The spleen has numerous functions including filtering of the blood, storage of platelets (blood clotting factors) white and red blood cells, breaking down old red blood cells, digestive functions, recycling of iron and cleansing the blood of pathogenic organisms such as viruses and bacteria. When the spleen is directly enlarged or congested it may present as pain in the upper left part of the abdomen, below the left breast. When it is slightly weaker or lower in functionality you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, pale skin, palpitations, nausea, bloating (especially after meals), poor appetite, food sensitivities, diarrhoea, being overweight even though you do not overeat and exercise regularly or be unable to gain weight even though you eat plenty. The spleen is also important during a fever (blood flow to the spleen is increased during a fever) where it produces more immune cells to combat pathogens.

Problems with the spleen include enlargement (due to infection, engorgement with blood, anaemia, malaria and leukaemia), rupture (due to physical injury or congestion), faulty pancreas, liver and stomach functions put an extra work load on the spleen and high blood pressure can also adversely affect the spleen. Certain digestive issues such as gluten sensitivity are associated with a weakness of the spleen as are weakness such as chronic fatigue, ME and constant infections.

The spleen is associated with the emotion melancholy in traditional medicine philosophies and with problems with the lymphatic and immune systems. It is also considered responsible for extracting the energy from foods ingested and is particularly vulnerable to damp and humid conditions within the body. If the health of the spleen is compromised then conditions such as food cravings (sugar in particular), chronic fatigue and compulsive addictions can arise (gambling, cigarettes, alcohol etc.).

Healing objectives are to provide good nurturing foods to the body and to establish and maintain healthy digestive functioning.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates as these are damaging to the immunity and health of the body generally, placing a heavier workload on the spleen. Processed foods that contain many artificial or unnatural additives place an extra workload on the organ and can damage the health and functioning of the spleen.

Chew your food thoroughly, every mouthful should be well mixed with saliva before swallowing to ease the processes of digestion and energy utilisation.

Always eat a good breakfast.  Whole grains such as an oat based muesli is good, soak them overnight in water to soften them if you prefer and chew them really well.

Eat a teaspoonful of blackstrap molasses daily for its dense nutrient content and its beneficial actions in the lower bowels and its tonic action on the spleen.

Eat plenty of fresh lightly cooked vegetables and fruits wherever possible for their nutrient content. and ease of digestion.

Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut and similar to provide beneficial bacteria to the bowels and aid the immune system also.

If your spleen is below par then avoid too many raw or cold foods or piping hot ones. Consume foods at room temperature if possible.

Specific foods that are healing to the spleen include lemons, garlic, onions, peas; grains such as oats, spelt and brown rice; green leaves such as seaweeds, wheatgrass, coriander, watercress, cabbage and parsley; chick peas, black and pinto beans, kidney and aduki beans; pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squashes ; root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips and carrots; anchovies and almonds.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Rosemary helps the spleen when it becomes enlarged, engorged with blood or congested, as do violet leaves.

Barberry, oregon grape, fringe tree bark, centaury, vervain, eyebright and astragalus root can also be used with rosemary to fortify and provide a tonic healing action on the spleen.

Other beneficial herbs for the spleen include echinacea (to fight infection), dandelion root, burdock root, thuja (for adverse reactions to vaccines and the like), agrimony, milk thistle, holy thistle, lemon balm, wild yam, angelica root, fennel seed, liqourice and bayberry. Note how many bitter herbs that work on the liver and digestive processes also benefit the health of the spleen.

A few drops of blue flag tincture in water up to 3 times daily can also help to clear a congested spleen.

Plantain leaves make an excellent tea to soften a hard and enlarged spleen and will provide excellent blood cleansing properties that aid the action of the spleen. Drink 3 cups daily. Add equal amounts of fenugreek seeds for an enhanced softening and dispersing action.

Turmeric has many beneficial properties that help increase the health of the spleen. Add a pinch to herbal teas or juices.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Regular moderate exercise helps to maintain a healthy spleen.

Deep breathing either through breathing techniques or through exercise helps the health of the spleen.

Learn how to relax. Constant mental activity and worrying weaken the activity of the spleen.

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