《吳醫師保健養生堂第四十四講》 — 心理健康-脾臟和焦慮(一)吳宇琛
2024年03月26日 13:05 發布 編輯:Editor



Sum Wu

Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (UTS)

Bachelor of Science Majoring in Psychology (UOW)

Specialising in pain management and mental wellbeing through Tradition Chinese medicine in combination with modern science in mental health, dieting and nutrition.

Mental Health – Spleen and Anxiety 1


Feeling anxious is a normal emotional experience that happens to everyone day to day. This can be caused from moderate amounts of stress due to work or other commitments. It is can be a result from worrying about things and can actually be a motivator. It’s when the feeling of anxiousness doesn’t go away or the feeling is not proportionate with the situation which then can become a major mental health issue which is called anxiety.



Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in Australia and 1 in 4 Australians will suffer from it at some point in there lives. It can be separated into a few categories.



The most common type is known as General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. This can be due to excessive, uncontrollable worry about everyday issues such as health, work or finances.



Panic disorder is regular panic attacks, which are sudden intense episodes of fear, worry about more attacks and avoiding situations where panic attacks may happen.



Specific phobias to certain things, OCD and PTSD are all other common anxiety disorders.



Symptoms of anxiety include panic attacks, shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitation, insomnia, churning stomach, trembling and excessive thirst, muscle tension and fatigue just to name a new.



Some of the ways to combat and reduce anxiety is through mediation and relaxation techniques, mindfulness, cognitive therapy and counselling. Similar to other common mental health issues such as depression, medication and support groups are often used as well.



Like in western medicine, there are multiple different patterns and causes of anxiety. It can be caused by Qi deficiency, blood deficiency, Yin deficiency, blood stasis, Liver Qi stasis, Heart Shen disharmony and phlegm dampness accumulation etc. For this topic we won’t be able to cover all the different patterns of anxiety disorders but I will focus on just one pattern and will once again refer back to some basic principles such as Zangfu system.



In TCM our organs are categorised as five Zang organs (Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lung and Kidneys) and six Fu organs (Gall bladder, Stomach, Large intestine, Small Intestine, Bladder and San Jiao). These organise are further characterised by the 5 elements. The 5 elements theory explains how the organ systems are interrelated to each other and how the function and health of 1 organ can affect the rest through a generating and restricting action through the 5 element cycle. When there is issue with this cycle, it can lead to dysfunction of the organ system resulting in external evils and those patterns of illness. The reason why it is necessary to mention this again is because in TCM anxiety is closely related to the Spleen organ and we will be focusing on the concept of dampness.



Dampness is one of the external evils that can affect the body that is common in environments that are high in humidity. Constant exposure to humid weather will induce dampness in the body which will upset the function of the Spleen and as we have mentioned previously the Spleen’s main role is the transform and transport food essence to the organs for become Qi and Blood and to provide energy to the four limbs. Its element is Earth and its emotion is worry or overthinking.



The Spleen has 3 main functions. Firstly, the Spleen controls the transportation and metabolism of water and nutrients in the body. The Stomach, which is its paired Fu organ, digests food into various components, which are transported to the Spleen for distribution to the rest of the body. Water will be transported upward to the Lung for the generation of Qi, and excessive water and metabolic wastes produced by different regions of the body are transported downward to the Kidney to be passed out. Excess or pathological dampness is referred to as phlegm dampness or oedema which is a result of Spleen dysfunction which can be caused by indigestion or malnutrition or metabolic syndrome.



From a western medical perspective the Spleen doesn’t really play a big role in digestion but rather it produces white blood cells and antibodies to fight infection but in some studies on glutinous rice, which is a common ingredient in food therapy for strengthening Spleen function, found that it improves digestion by increasing the levels of salivary amylase in someone who may have Spleen dysfunction. Another study suggests that in cases where the patient has a lot of dampness, there is an over-expression of aquaporin, a water channel protein commonly found in the lungs, digestive system and kidney, suggesting that the function of the Spleen may be related to the functioning of these systems in regulating water content in the body.



Secondly, the Spleen regulates the circulation of blood. Spleen functions to enable the flow of blood within blood vessels in the right direction and then deliver Qi throughout the body. Thus, sub-cutaneous bruising and haemorrhage, such as conditions associated with haematuria and excessive menstrual bleeding, are caused by Spleen malfunctioning. In western medicine, the prevention of internal bruising is a function of the blood, through the regulation of blood clotting and capillary permeability, with the latter preventing the leakage of red blood cells into the extracellular space. Research has shown that patients with Spleen dysfunction generally show an abnormal morphology of blood platelets, leading to a decrease in their ability to aggregate and release clotting factors. Thrombocytes in Spleen dysfunction patients have been found to exhibit a shorter lifespan, resulting in a higher likelihood of haemorrhage. Spleen dysfunction patients were also found to have an increased capillary fragility, such that that they are more prone to capillary rupture, leading to internal bruising.



In connection with the functions of nutrient metabolism and transport as well blood circulation, the Spleen appears to be an important determinant for the maintenance of proper functioning of skeletal muscle. This is because the transport of nutrients in blood to skeletal muscle is controlled by the Spleen. This is corroborated by the experimental observations that both the configuration and function of extensor muscle were significantly deteriorated in mice with Spleen dysfunction, and that Spleen dysfunction patients have higher blood lactate levels, as a result of anaerobic glycolysis in skeletal muscles. These observations may well explain why tiredness and muscle pain are commonly observed in patients with Spleen dysfunction.



Thirdly, the Spleen is related to immune function. TCM theory states that one will not be influenced by “external evils” if the Spleen is functioning optimally. The Spleen, being endowed with the Earth nature, is thought to be the center of other elements. If the Spleen functions well, other Zang will also function properly. Results from a number of studies have established the functional relationship between the Spleen and the immune system. Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus with Spleen dysfunction showed an obvious immune dysfunction and administering Cang Zhu has been found to improve the immune function of the subjects with Spleen dysfunction as well as protect and repair damaged mucosal tissues.