Updated: Nov 19, 2019
The Spleen organ network in Chinese Medicine includes the overall health of a person’s
digestive system and GI tract. When it is deficient it means that your body’s ability to extract and absorb nutrients from dietary sources is compromised. This in turn will lead to poor energy production and malnutrition disorders.
Digestion in Chinese Medicine is viewed metaphorically like a pot of soup sitting on a fire. The fire represents the body’s metabolic ‘fire’ that cooks the ingested food, allowing it to extract nourishment. However, when deficient the fire cannot heat the pot, everything becomes stagnant our food doesn’t get metabolized properly, we feel sluggish, become undernourished and start storing fat.
In Chinese Medicine they describe this pattern as being an accumulation of “damp” in the body. So, you might hear your Chinese Medicine Practitioner say that you have ‘Spleen qi deficiency resulting in ‘Dampness’, this is the pattern that they are describing, might relate this to a Hypothyroid condition.
Foods that are especially nourishing to the digestive system include soups and stews, root vegetables such as sweet potato, orange and yellow squash, chicken, and beef. Only very small amounts of naturally sweet flavors and more pungent tastes including onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, fennel, cinnamon and nutmeg are beneficial in strengthening the digestive system.
Clear damp and phlegm for weight loss.
Foods that contribute to dampness such as dairy, processed carbohydrates, sweets and rich overly supplementing foods should be avoided.
Whilst foods that support healthy digestion are emphasized.
BENEFICIAL FOODS to clear damp:
Buckwheat, pearl barley, corn silk,
Sough dough bread, dry roasted oats.
Pumpkin, onion, shallot, garlic, turnip, mustard, horseradish, lean meat,
White and black pepper, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, dill seeds, coriander, oregano, thyme, basil, fresh ginger.
Lemon juice/ lemon tea
Azuki beans, Hyacinth Beans, Mung Beans, Celery Seeds
Digestive Teas and Recipes to boost Metabolism
Enjoy these teas while aiding your digestion.
Green teas are great as they help to break down fats from your meals reducing the load off the liver and gall bladder. 'Cheap is best' for weight loss, not for pleasure. The cheaper leaves are generally more bitter and have a stronger stimulating effect on the digestion be sure to try to find the organic and pesticide free option. If you can find the Chinese bonjenmi teas at the Chinese grocers they work even better.
Incorporate Adzuki bean, Pearl barley, corn, corn silk, Chinese red dates, broad beans, Hyacinth beans, bitter melon and mung beans into your daily diet routine. These will help to prevent your body’s tendency to hold fluids. Keep in mind these foods work like diuretics and are generally cooling to the body so it’s
nice to balance with a small amount of warming spices that help the water ways and promote digestion. Cinnamon twig, nutmeg and a bit of orange rind or peel is great to add to your food as a garnish or to your teas.
Jobs tears - Pan fry then brew as a tea. These helps to calm the nervous system and helps to promote water loss.
Boil Azuki beans with malt or red dates with a few garlic cloves.
Broad beans and hyacinth beans can help with weight/ water loss by absorbing tissues fluids- grind into a powder and drink as a tea. Fry in oil and salt
Mung beans cools and eliminate retained fluids from the tissues. Sprout and eat as supplement to meals. Can add ginger and cinnamon to slightly warm and facilitate the water passages.
Hawthorn Berries: detoxes the lower intestine from stagnated food, encourages healthy bowel movements, boosts digestion, promotes weight loss. Directions: Fill a pot with 3 cups of water. Then, add 2-3 tablespoons of hawthorn berry tea. You can add more if you like a stronger tea. Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat down to simmer for 25 minutes. Drink 1 cup daily after your largest meal (although sometimes I drink it with both lunch and dinner!
1. Exercise is strongly recommended, although one may feel worse initially it is important to increase movement and circulation.
2. A weakened digestive tract likes a regular meal schedule and needs downtime when it is not called upon to digest and absorb food. Constant snacking or grazing will make weak digestion worse.
3. Inadequately chewed food imposes a heavy burden on digestion
4. It is especially important to pay attention to your posture during and after eating. Sitting in a twisted or scrunched up way impairs the function of the digestive organs.
5. Be careful to avoid overeating. Eat only to the point that your stomach is 2/3 full.
6. Avoid uncooked and cold foods. Think of cooking as a “pre-digestion” of your food. By cooking the majority of your food, you are significantly lightening the load– it does not have to work as hard to extract nutrition from your food. Please understand that this does not mean that you have to cook your food until it is gray – for instance, vegetables should be steamed or stir-fried just long enough to brighten their natural color. Although cooking may destroy some nutrients, it makes the remaining nutrients much easier to assimilate, so the net result is better nutrition.
7. Iced drinks are especially harmful. Although it is a difficult habit to establish, learning to enjoy your beverages at room temperature is a healthful step to take. It is especially important to follow this guideline if you experience a number of symptoms of fatigue, loose stools, cold hands and feet, dizziness when standing up, and aversion to cold.