In Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) is the stomach and spleen are the spiritual core on how to help treat and heal the majority of illnesses. The stomach and spleen are paired together as yang and yin and both are associated with the Earth element.
The stomach in TOM is where ‘rotting and ripening’ occurs, where food and information of your life is received and where digestion ‘ripening’ and acceptance can begin to take place. The stomach is the yang in the pairing. It likes food and drink with energetic temperatures of cold and the flavor of sweet tonifies (strengthens) it. Now bare in mind, when a TOM practitioner refers to sweet they do not mean excess amounts of refined sugar, instead the sweetness of a piece of fruit or a date is more than sufficient to tonify and is much healthier.
The spleen in TOM is where transformation and transportation occurs. The transformation refers to food converting to qi (energy). While transportation, refers to taking the qi and nourishment to the rest of the body. The spleen is the yin organ in this pairing. It likes energetic temperature of foods and drink to be warm and same as stomach is tonified by the flavor of sweet. The associated emotions with it are anxiety and pensiveness. In order to help calm the mind one should focus on healing the spleen.
The spleen is also the organ that holds the spirit of the Yi (pronounced “E”). The Yi is the intellect, the mind. If one has difficulty reading and/or taking tests this can be improved upon by focusing on the spleen and how one consumes food and drink.
Ways to help the stomach and spleen be stronger are by adhering to two simple rules:
MODERATION and PACE.
Moderation refers to eating too much of one type of food and never getting more than 80% full. Overeating can damage the stomach energy thereby damaging your core and the center of your healing. Ideally no specific food should be eaten more than 3 times a week. For example, avocados, avocado can be eaten in various ways: in a sandwich, as guacamole or in vegan chocolate mousse. Regardless of the form it should be eaten no more than 3 times a week. This is one form of moderation.
Another form of moderation is quantity of food in general. Never get more than 80% full. When the stomach is completely full it does not function properly and since the stomach and the spleen are the center of the body if they are not functioning properly there can be damage done easily to other organs. In most cases if damage does occur it will be to the weaker organs first. Each patient has different weaker organs. Check with your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) to see which are yours. So as a general rule never eat more than 80% full. Most of us do not realize how full we are until approximately 10-30 min of time has passed after we have eaten. This time that passes after consuming food that is required before we realize our true nature of fullness depends on how well we can listen to the truth from our stomachs.
As for the truth of what one believes to hear from the stomach, know that the stomach and spleen carry energies of memory with it. For example, if we ever experienced a traumatic moment that related to eating food at any time or we ate right after a traumatic experience without calming down first then it can damage the stomach/spleen energy by creating what TOM practitioners call ‘evil qi.’ This evil qi can lie to us, one example would be by making us believe we need to eat something that we do not. Ways to help understand and know whether certain food groups are good for you: getting regular treatments with your TOM practitioner (preferably one that consistently works on their own spiritual development), meditation, internal qi practices (i.e. sundo, tai chi, ba gua, yoga) and/or fasting (under the supervision of a HCP-preferably one that has fasted longer than you are about to attempt).
The pace at which we eat is so crucially important. Ideally we should be chewing each bite a minimum of 30-50 chews and waiting 30-60 seconds after swallowing before placing the next bite of food in our mouth. So many patients come in after trying this and say that they simply are not able to chew their food that many times. It is normal to have some difficulty with this at first so just keep trying, if you accidentally swallow too soon just keep chewing as if the food is still there and your body will get use to the idea of it and soon you will be able to control your body better. The ideal amount of chewing can change based on the food groups you are eating so a simple way to know you have chewed enough is that the food will dissolve and go down gently.
Taking care of your stomach and spleen can be life changing in the most unexpected positive way. Remember when making changes to your diet always check with your HCP first. It is natural for the body to go through withdrawals the first two weeks after making changes to your diet. It is as if you are taking a toy away from a child, it’s possible it may throw a tantrum. There are so many wonderful ways to help heal yourself and not just expect your HCP to do all the work for you and the results can be phenomenal. So make that positive change in your life and take initiative, there is nothing greater than preventative medicine.