Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stress and the Spleen/Stomach System

Last week we talked about stress and its impact on the body.

The spleen/stomach system according to Chinese Medical theory is responsible for the transportation and transformation of food. This system is what gives us usable energy. The quality of our health is determined by the essence we received from our parents (DNA) and as well as our lifestyle habits. If you were born with good essence that's great! The best way to keep it that way is to make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle or it will catch up with you.

The spleen/stomach relate to:

emotion: worry/over thinking

taste: sweet

pathogen: dampness

color: yellow

season: late summer and transitional phases



When our stressors cause us to over think or worry it can damage the spleen. You might know a few people who are worriers and have weak stomachs, this is because the spleen/stomach system governs both activities. If you are a multitasker this can also cause disharmony in your spleen/stomach making you feel anxious. The spleen/stomach system also keeps the blood contained. As a women, if you are living a stress filled life with no outlet you might experience spotting between periods, and other disharmonies with your menstrual cycle.



The spleen is a dry organ that hates dampness. What does that mean? Damp causing foods are sweet, especially empty sweet foods like processed cookies and candy. Dampness causes the body to feel heavy and weighed down metaphorically or literally with extra pounds. In order to keep your digestive system strong its important to eat warm foods. Raw vegetables are considered cooling and are hard for your system to process. Always cook your veggies. Processed, deep fried, fast foods cause dampness in the body and damage your spleen/stomach. What you might not know is that it is important to focus just on your food while you eat. If you watch tv, drive, sit at the computer etc while you eat you are dividing the attention of the spleen with thinking and eating which ultimately imbalances your spleen.



The Dali Lama once said, "if the problem has a solution then there is no need to worry and if the problem doesn't have a solution worry will do know good." Easier said then done, but do your spleen a favor and let it go. :)



How can you avoid stressing out your spleen?



Avoid refined sugars as much as possible



Eat yellow foods with full sweet flavors such as grains, squash, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, or baby corn.



Take life one moment at a time. Instead of multitasking, try to tackle one thing and complete it before moving on.



Avoid living spaces and work environments that are below ground like garden apartments and basements. Keep yourself warm and covered when it rains or snows (dampness).



Eat mindfully. Whenever possible eat with friends or family and enjoy their company and the food that you are eating. Notice the flavor of your food and chew! You might notice that you don't need to eat as much as you used to.



Unplug. Turn your cell phone and computer off when your work day is done. Even if all you do is turn your car off and sit for a moment of silence before going inside your home. Take some "me" time.



Sarah Zender LAc
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

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