It is Easter Sunday today and a mix of sunshine and showers. I’ve been in my vegetable patch planting this years crops and I’ve been transported, as always at this time of year, by the amazing mix of bird song, vibrant green plant life, and the smell and texture of the soil.
In Chinese medicine this is truly therapeutic. In fact it is quite specifically therapeutic, because growing and planting is clinically beneficial for Spleen energy.
As almost always with Chinese medical terminology this has nothing to do with an anatomical Spleen, but involves the TCM meaning of Spleen.
In TCM the Spleen (with a capital ‘s’) involves our connection with the Earth and our physical health in terms of digestion. A healthy Spleen means that our digestion is functioning well, allowing us to extract energy from the food that we eat. This means that we are satisfied with what we eat and drink, not craving more or less. We have good energy for what we do with the day, both mentally and physically. We don’t put on excess weight, and we are alert and well in ourselves. In Chinese medicine it also means that we are well connected in our relationships, at ease in ourselves and well grounded.
When the Spleen is not functioning well, Damp can accumulate making us sluggish heavy and lethargic. It can also make us achey and deeply tired and contribute to problems as varied as asthma, hay-fever and IBS.
Clients often ask about the dietary changes that they can make to help improve their Spleen deficient conditions. In the West we are used to being asked to alter what we eat to improve our health. In Chinese medicine too there are foods that are harmful to the Spleen and also foods which help improve its function. Of equal importance though, and often overlooked, are all the other life-style changes which are beneficial to Spleen energy.
These include gardening, planting, and growing things – however small the project. It is perfect for this time of year when we are all at our energetic low after the long Winter!
I’m heading back out to get some salad seeds going before the rain starts!