Episode Four: What’s Your Spleen Spiel?

Episode Four: What’s Your Spleen Spiel?

“Soups and Stews”, “Transporting and Transforming”, this episode is all about the Spleen: the Yin companion to the Stomach meridian. We talk about the concept of Dampness in Chinese Medicine, cooked vs raw food, boosting your Spleen qi, and why eating ice cream makes you a rebel. Learn how to nourish your body’s original sweetness.

Music by Purple Fluorite (Bandcamp // Soundcloud // or all the streaming platforms)

Subscribe to the podcast so you’ll never miss an episode!

Listen with:

Anchor.fm ~ iTunes ~ Stitcher ~ Breaker ~ Spotify ~ Google Podcasts ~ Pocket Casts ~ Overcast

Or read the transcript below:

[Music starts]

Raymond:

Healing With Raymond And Billy.

Billy:

Healing With Raymond And Billy.

Raymond:

Today we are… welcome back, welcome back to Healing With Raymond And Billy. Today we are talking about Spleen. Last episode we talked about stomach, which is the Yang channel for the Earth element and so today we’re talking about the paired Yin organ and channel, which is the Spleen.

Raymond:

Stomach. I think I talked about this phrase last time. The phrase that I was sort of taught to kind of remember the function of the stomach was “rottens and ripens the food,” rottening and ripening; rottening in a good way, obviously. I was watching some weird lecture one time and the guy was like, “Rotted food is bad on the outside, but when it’s on the inside, it’s okay.” I was like, “Oh, okay. Sure.”

[both laugh]

Raymond:

So anyway, the Stomach rottens and ripens, but the Spleen, the phrase I learned was transporting and transforming because it’s all about taking the food and fluids. So Spleen has that function of kind of something …

Billy:

T&T

Raymond:

That’s right. It sounds like cocktail. One Spleen, please! But so the other image that I also was taught about was if you think about the Stomach as being the big bowl that holds all the food that is – rottening and ripening, I guess! – and that the Spleen is sort of the flame underneath it that’s cooking the kettle of the stomach. So that’s one reason why it’s generally good to not overeat and to overfill the stomach because then your Spleen has to work really, really hard.

Raymond:

So if you think about it if you put just one spoonful of soup into a pot on the stove versus three quarts of soup into that same pot, the three quarts is going to take a lot longer for that soup to get hot. So the contents in your stomach are going to take a lot longer for them to cook down. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Our bodies are designed to do amazing things. And so sometimes, we like to feast on things because we’re human and that feels really kind of good to kind of feel really full.

Raymond:

But sometimes I think we get too full too often, then we also miss that sensation of emptiness and raw hunger. So it’s kind of good for our bodies to actually kind of experience both sensations. I mean, assuming that for the most part you are in good health and generally balanced and things like that. Sometimes, you know, if you have an insulin issue and things like that, then you maybe don’t want to mess with your hunger levels in the same way or whatever.

Raymond:

So anyway, Spleen is the flame that cooks the Stomach. The other reason thinking about that with the heating up of the soup is that a Spleen doesn’t love … It also, it tends to like soups and stews. That’s the other phrase that I feel like gets thrown out by Chinese medicine people. Oh, your Spleen needs help. Soups and stews! It’s always prescribed by acupuncturist, right?

[both laugh]

Oh my God, I should be a stand-up at acupuncture conferences. I want to do really obscure Chinese medicine jokes or whatever. Anyway. I bet that career exists. I bet some stand-up somewhere has been hired. So anyway back to soups and stews.

Billy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). S and S.

Raymond:

S and S to go with your T and T. So soups and stews …

Billy:

R and R.

Raymond:

… tend to be, you know, it’s warm, cooked food. And it’s already usually brothy and broken down so our body doesn’t have to work as hard. That’s why we give soup to people who are sick, who aren’t feeling well, because then your body doesn’t have to work. It doesn’t have to spend so much energy on the digestion. It can use that energy in the immune system to fight or to heal whatever you’re sort of doing.

Raymond:

So raw salads are kind of hard on the Spleen because again, the Spleen really has to kind of turn that flame up to cook the stomach and cook those contents down and break them down. Obviously, it doesn’t mean we should never eat raw foods and raw veggies, but just to think about to make sure that the Spleen has variety. Because that’s what I was thinking about, too, is that Spleen is kind of this funny dance of it really likes a variety of foods, but it likes them at the same time every day. So that’s another thing that’s kind of good for boosting your Spleen is sort of to have regular, reliable meals at sort of around the same time every day in those sort of rhythms that our bodies like.

Raymond:

So that kind of keeps our Spleen functioning optimally and starts transporting and transforming the food and fluids in the body. That’s my Spleen spiel, Billy Janes.

Billy:

That was great.

Raymond:

Give me your Spleen spiel. I always want to make these jokes that are hard to say. Tell me your Spleen spiel.

Billy:

Spleen spiel. My Spleen spiel is that yeah, I really like what you said about, you know, the soups and the stews and about it being easily digestible. I think a lot of times when I have people come in to see me, they talk a lot about look, my immune system is really low, I’m really fatigued, I feel like I get sick easily, therefore the low immune system, the fatigue related with that. There was also, you know, I get a lot of gas and bloating. I have this kind of congestion in my sinuses that I’m not able to really transform and it’s just been kind of stuck there for months. What do I do?

Billy:

And so I think a lot of what my suggestion to them is the S and S, which is the soups and the stews, the idea being that if you can break down everything for your body so that you can release all of the minerals and the nutrients in the food so that you don’t ask your body to do that and tax your system to bring all of the attention to the digestion portion. If you could really just break it down and provide it to your body in a way that it really enjoys which is warm, well-cooked and soft, watery, then that is going to be able to be absorbed into your body and you’re going to get more nutrients that way.

Billy:

So that is really my biggest kind of digestion suggestion for people who kind of are going through these kind of really needing to nourish their body. The best way to nourish your body, especially in the wintertime is to have warmer, well-cooked foods. Some people talk about cooking vegetables for at least 30 minutes in some sort of broth and that really allows it to break down. Depending on what I see with a person, sometimes, I’m like, “Let it cook at least 45 minutes or up to an hour of cooking.”

Billy:

You just put the veggies in a pan. You can saute them if you want first. Then you add some broth, put the lid on and have it cook on low and just really allow it to break everything down. Spleen loves it. That’s what the Spleen likes. It likes getting all the nourishment so that then it can provide energy and chi, which is that vital force that the body needs for all of the systems to work properly.

Billy:

If it doesn’t have enough of that good chi from being nourished through foods, then it’s not able to do the best job it can with getting everything circulating and keeping the body’s functions normal and healthy and the immune system strong and nervous system nice and steady.

Raymond:

Yes. I was thinking about how you were talking about the food absorption aspect of Spleen. So a Spleen is responsible for pulling the nutrients out of the food and then kind of converting that into blood and chi and moving that around the body.

Raymond:

And so we talked in previous episodes, in the large intestine/bowel episode about if you have loose, watery stools that is a symptom of Spleen chi deficiency. So that means your Spleen is basically feeling sluggish. It doesn’t have enough energy. It doesn’t have enough energy to do it’s job. And its job is to pull nutrients out of your food, but it’s not really doing that. So food is passing through you. You’re eating it. It’s going through your stomach and small intestine into the large intestine.

Raymond:

It’s coming out, but you’re not really getting any calories. You’re not really getting any vitamins. You’re not getting the nutrients out of the food. It’s just sort of passing through you literally. So that’s essentially why, you know, when you have diarrhea, that sensation of food is just rushing through your body, it’s just exit out the hatch.

Raymond:

So if it’s food poisoning, then it’s that really intense diarrhea that cleans out the system. But if you have just sort of mild, mild, mild diarrhea to an extent, you don’t have the urgency, but your bowels are sort of loose and watery, it’s essentially the same thing. So it’s not so much that you have a toxin heat in your Spleen that’s causing it, it’s just more that you have kind of a sluggish Spleen happening right now.

Billy:

Yeah.

Raymond:

Yeah. And I was also thinking about someone who does like to eat, you know, crunch on certain raw foods and there’s certain things that I do like. One thing you can think about is just where you eat them throughout your day and throughout your meal. And so I think, is it French style that they tend to eat their salads at the end of their meal instead of at the beginning?

Raymond:

So I know that we sort of have salads as an appetizer is sort of common in this country, but what’s better is to probably have soup as your appetizer. Because then, it’s you’re helping your stomach get hot and get ready already by giving it the nice, warm comfort food that your Spleen can very easily pull nutrients out of. Then you can kind of put your regular meal on top of it and then maybe top it off with a salad, which is sort of your stomach will kind of already be fired up at that point, so your body is already kind of working hard and the metabolism engine is going.

Raymond:

I definitely feel like the human body has a lot in common with the cartoons of the trains shoving coal into the fire. [inaudible 00:11:29] images a lot when I think about my metabolism and keeping the fire stoked and things like that. Because I think we’re not really in touch with our metabolic functions. You know what I mean? A lot of our American culture is based in these sort of puritan notions. A lot of sort of Western white culture has this sort of, you know, don’t be greedy, don’t eat too much, everything in moderation and all that stuff, whatever. All those sort of messages about fat bodies, all the sort of the whole spectrum of that.

Raymond:

But you know, also, our appetites and our drives for sex, our appetites and drives for creativity, these are all sort of devalued, I think, generally. And so, you know, I think about … Did I tell this story last time about how realizing because of when I grew up at the time, you know, the late ’80s when I was in middle school, you know, everyone was scared of fat at the time?

Raymond:

And so I remember eating, I would go to school eating a bowl of Cheerios with skim milk. And in hindsight, I go back and look and I’m all like, “That was a 200-calorie meal.” And I was a 13-year-old. My metabolism is exploding because I was coming into adolescence, but I’m also getting these messages because, you know, I’m being raised and seen as a girl and so all these messages about what girls should do and their body and how much they should eat and not eat and things like that or whatever.

Raymond:

So by sort of having all those messages mixed in with my worrying, that’s the other sort of aspect that the Spleen controls is the emotional and mental part, is sort of pensive thoughts and worrying and that sort of fixation. So I think a lot of times our fixation on eating and food and diet, you know, in some ways it’s about it’s naturally natural for us to always be thinking about food because that’s how we stay alive. But I think if you don’t have a comfortable relationship with that, it gets kind of messed up and twisted, I guess.

Billy:

I think that whole thing about the Spleen having that kind of dampness and that weighing down feeling and getting bogged down and obsessive thinking. It’s just that emotional kind of sticky, heavy, I guess going back to your cartoons comment earlier, if you’ve ever seen someone that’s been trying to walk through this sticky kind of glue type of paste and feeling unable to really kind of move their limbs. It’s that kind of heavy feeling.

Billy:

And when you combine that with you know, the stress of life kind of, you know, kind of coming in and seizing around that, that’s that whole experience of your liver, that liver energy or as we talk about in the Chinese medicine, that your nervous system is really unable to properly interact with your digestion. There’s probably something going on with your body’s ability to know when you’re safe and able to rest and digest versus when you need to be active and excited.

Billy:

And so all of these kinds of, you know, metaphors that we’re using about Spleen and it getting, you know, damp and bogged down, it all really has these kind of correlations with our nervous system and also, with, you know, all of the little aspects to our digestion like whether we’re able to properly absorb nutrients because of either allergies to different foods. People have gluten intolerances or they have, you know, they’re unable to process and digest certain foods or even get proper minerals or whatever out of them because of inflammation in their gut for such a long time.

Billy:

So that’s really when we’re talking about that kind of dampness and how that works is that inflammation that can be in the gut can really impact the brain because of that brain-gut axis and how our brains and our guts are connected. And so it can literally have an effect on your emotional state.

Billy:

It’s not any kind of strange, out there thing that we’re saying. We’re just using metaphors of this ancient medicine to kind of talk through those things and how we can work through those obstacles to try to transform them.

Raymond:

Yeah. Even today, when I texted you earlier to check in this afternoon, right before that, I had this moment where I just was whatever I was working on at the moment, I was like, “This is terrible. I fucked it up. I’m going to just … I think maybe I’m coming down with something. I think I need to cancel the recording session. I feel really upset and angry.” And then all of a sudden I looked at the clock and I was like, “Oh, I need to eat.” You know? My brain can’t solve these problems. Suddenly I’m feeling bombarded with problems and unable to solve them.

Raymond:

But what had happened is because of sort of daylight savings and kind of sleeping in a little bit this morning and I kind of ate breakfast kind of late so I didn’t really … All of a sudden I realized, oh, I didn’t actually have lunch. So once I took a break, realized what was happening, so I stopped it. So I think that’s the other thing, too, is that sometimes I think there are times in my life where I was greatly affected by my bodily functions, but it was other people on the outside of me telling that.

Raymond:

No one wants their girlfriend to be in the middle of a fight to tell you I think you need some protein or whatever. You know what I mean. And so that just made me want to fight against the idea even more, like, “No. My feelings are real.” Do you know what I mean.

Billy:

Yes.

Raymond:

I feel like people have used that shit. And it’s true. You know what? I’m sure that my feelings probably were a little bit amped up because I probably was cranky from low blood sugar. But you know what I mean, that’s not the best way to approach it.

Billy:

Yeah. It’s like when people say, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.”

Raymond:

Right. Or people who say, “Relax.”

Billy:

Yeah.

Raymond:

I’m like, “That’s not relaxing.”

Billy:

Yeah, that just piss me off. I’m not going to relax right now.

Raymond:

Yeah. I’m not going to calm down, but thank you. Yeah. So Spleen, we were talking about Spleen. Oh hey, let’s … Oh. I wanted to talk about dampness because you’ve been using this word dampness and I realized that I knew what you were talking about, but I don’t think we’re really sort of talked about these sort of concepts in Chinese medicine so much.

Raymond:

So we’ve talked a lot about these channels and we’ve also talked a little bit about these five elements, but there is also these concepts in Chinese medicine … I think we’ve talked a little bit about hot and cold as those being things that can manifest in the body in different ways, both literally and sort of metaphorically. That’s how we describe imbalances in the body.

Raymond:

But then we also have things that are referred to as a wind and that usually means it’s changeable and it moves around the body. So that’s the word used to describe conditions that do that. But then there’s also conditions in the body that get described as being dry or being damp. So Billy was talking about dampness and Spleen is very much.

Raymond:

So a lot of times, certain meridians are more prone to sort of imbalances in certain things and Spleen is very much prone to dampness and to damp imbalances. So I think I talked earlier about the Spleen likes variety. And if you eat too much of anything … I think I also when I was kind of looking up stuff for this episode, I came across something where some acupuncturist said that we shouldn’t eat the same meal four or more times a week. I was like, “Huh. That’s very specific.”

Raymond:

And you know, there are a few things I probably eat more than four times, five times a week, but it’s probably a banana or some other stuff like that. I guess I do try to mix up other things. But they were just talking about generally, you know, to mix up the type of vegetables you eat, to mix up the type of meat you eat, to mix up the type of fats you eat. And obviously, if you can sort of eat with the seasons, that’s good, too.

Raymond:

Although Spleen generally likes kind of root vegetables year-round. It likes sweetness, but it’s also really easy to have too much sweetness. So like I was saying, so Spleen likes variety and it gets bogged down by too much of anything. Too much salads, Spleen gets bogged down in the digestion. Too much donuts, the Spleen also gets bogged down, but in different ways. So it kind of depends on your specific reaction to the sugar and the bread yeast.

Raymond:

For me, example, I’ve tried a lot of different things because I was interested to see if maybe I have some sort of food allergy because I’m prone to in Chinese medicine dampness in my head, which we would probably know as phlegm or sinus headaches, things like that. And so I’ve tried different things to see if giving it up for 30 days would eliminate my symptoms.

Raymond:

And for me, what I figured out with my body is that I do just need that variety and I just need to do certain food combining and also, to not eat things sort of in excess. But the trouble is, my symptoms sometimes don’t show up for a day or two after. So I might overeat a few things in the sort of sugar/dairy/bread category and feel fine that day and feel kind of okay the next day, which so then I have it again and then it’s day four. Then I’m like, “Why do I have a migraine? Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have, you know, had all those donuts.”

Raymond:

But I also don’t need to go that extreme. Because I think that used to be the thing I had, too. I had so much judgment and shame about my love for dessert. And I just had to figure out what are the things that I can eat more often and they don’t cause pain? So you know what I mean? I love a chocolate chip cookie, but some nights, I just maybe have a piece of dark chocolate as my sweet thing at the end of the night because that’s a little bit more … doesn’t have as many things that might cause that sort of dampness in the body.

Billy:

Yeah. I’m going to be a little honest here. People, you know, especially in my medicine, they’re like oh my God, the biggest damp-causing foods are ice cream, because it’s cold, which the Spleen hates cold, and then it’s sugar which is sweet. But sweetness in Chinese medicine means something different than what we as Americans believe. Sweetness in Chinese medicine perspective is you would taste something and be like, “Wait, that’s sweet.” That’s not sweet. It’s rice. Rice is sweet and it’s like, “What?”

Billy:

So they have this whole other level. But we have sweet at this whole other level. And so my point is, I enjoy ice cream every night. I have two huge scoops in a bowl. And I’m not ashamed, but it’s not something that you’re supposed to, you know, you’re not supposed to tell your patients that.

Raymond:

Right. You’re not supposed to. Right. Well it also depends …

Billy:

You know? It’s like, “Oh, don’t do that.”

Raymond:

It depends on people’s constitutions, right? You know and so I think if someone is eating two scoops of ice cream every night and they’re not having any issues that could be linked back to that per se … You know what I mean? There have been times where I thought something I loved was causing my headaches, so I gave it up for a month and then I still had headaches. So it was yay, I don’t have to give up this thing I love, but also, still have mystery headaches. So it’s kind of …

Raymond:

But you know, that’s just sort of what part of owning a body is, right? I think we have certain things. I never really thought about it until I saw a friend recently and I was coming and I had a headache. And I said to them, I was like, “Hey, I have headache, so I’m not going to move my face a lot, but it doesn’t mean that I’m mad at you.” Because I tend to be a pretty smiley, animated person. So if you see me for a few minutes and my face is super relaxed, you probably would think that something was wrong with me.

Raymond:

So it was my way of avoiding … Basically my way of let me just go ahead and address this up front so I don’t have to deal with the are you tired? You look tired or whatever [inaudible 00:24:49]. Not that this person would do this to me. They are a lovely person. But so lovely, in fact, that when I mentioned I had a headache, they were like, “Wow, I’m so sorry.” They were super empathetic. And I was like, “It’s not that big a deal.” But they were like, “I guess I never really … I never get headaches,” so it seems like this really intense thing.

Raymond:

But I’m someone that I think I’ve had headaches since I was 12 years old. So for me, it’s just that’s how things tend to manifest in my body. Instead of having … I mean I do have a bum ankle, but instead of having bad knees, I feel like I’m headache prone, you know.

Billy:

Yeah. I think that’s the whole idea, too, like you said about constitution. If your constitution is such that you tend to accumulate dampness really quickly, then it’s probably a good idea that you have more foods in your life that counteract that. Or for myself, I’m lactose intolerant. Eating ice cream probably isn’t the best idea.

Raymond:

Do you take something beforehand? Or do you just tough it out?

Billy:

Yeah. I used to, but now I’m just like, “Whatever. This is the price of my joy. I’m just going to do it.” And then in my life elsewhere, I will have more damp eliminating foods and I’ll treat my Spleen pretty nicely. And so I think, you know, part of it, too, is life is meant to be enjoyed. And these rigid rules about what you can and cannot do or should or should not do, you know, I feel like a lot of this is about exploring what works for us.

Billy:

And once you have an idea of like, “Oh, that’s how I deal with …,” you know, some of these imbalances, then you can make decisions about okay, I’m going to do this and I will go ahead and deal with this later. You can have an idea of how far you can move in the margins versus feeling like I don’t know what’s going on. I have all this dampness. It’s a journey is what I’m saying.

Raymond:

Right. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that’s why we … I like the idea of meridians and maps and that’s sort of the theme of this, too, is so you want to go on a hero’s journey? When someone gives a map of how to get someplace, it’s not the same as actually taking the trip. Every person that walks along that map’s line is going to see different things and notice different things and stop at different places to eat along the way and whatnot or whatever.

Raymond:

So there’s still a lot of … You know, we just kind of want to help you get a lay of the land to figure out where you want to go without actually saying explicitly go here and do this and this is going to happen. Because it really is going to be different for every person.

Billy:

And I think the idea … Oh.

Raymond:

No. Go ahead.

Billy:

I was just going to say that the idea that, you know, when you look at the list of things that cause a lot of dampness that are listed in Chinese medicine, some of them are dairy products, ice cream, things that are raw and cold can have that effect, lots of sugar, processed foods, stuff like that. When you look at it from more of a Western perspective, these can also cause inflammation in people’s guts if they have sensitivity to those things. And so the idea if dampness being a sort of inflammation in the gut, this also can apply to other parts of our body where we have dampness, where we might consider in Western medicine that this is arthritis or sinus congestion or sinus infection or something like this.

Billy:

These are types of inflammation, whether low-level or acute. And so this idea of reducing dampness just isn’t about digestion. It also has implications for dampness throughout the body, whether that be, you might say in swelling and edema or water accumulation beneath the skin and joints.

Raymond:

Or say heavy limbs, when my clients come in and they talk about they’re tired. And I’ll be like, “Do you feel like your limbs feel extra heavy.” And they’ll be like, “Yeah.” I sort of think that stuff kind of connected to Spleen chi deficiency.

Billy:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Raymond:

It’s time to talk about where the Spleen channel is. We didn’t start with that.

Billy:

[inaudible 00:29:33].

Raymond:

I know. No I think it’s every episode is different. You never know what you’re going to get on Healing With Raymond And Billy. We just have a general recipe for the episode and then see what comes out. So in Shiatsu when we work the Spleen, mostly in the legs and actually, we do a lot of stuff with what we call the yin meridians of the leg. So the yin, all the three yin meridians … going to give a little preview of coming attractions. Spleen, liver and kidney are these three leg yin channels and they are all located on basically the sort of the inner part of your leg.

Raymond:

So if you kind of … They start in different places of the foot, but they all kind of join up around the ankle on the inside of your leg. So if you take your hand and kind of start down there and kind of pull up that really sensitive inner part of your leg to your knee and then the inner part of your thigh to your groin up to your hip bone, that area that your whole palm covers, you’re kind of hitting all three of those meridians. So the Spleen is actually sort of the top.

Raymond:

So the Spleen is sort of closer to the front of your leg. The liver is kind of right in the dead center middle of your inner leg and then the kidney is a little but under that. So it’s kind of almost the back of your leg, the back of your calf and the back of your thigh. And then the Spleen kind of comes up like I said to that sort of hip area. And it does this sort of little zig-zaggy thing where it kind of comes in a little toward your belly button and then it goes out toward the side along the ribs and then up to the sort of point where your collar bone meets your shoulder.

Raymond:

I think I know that meridian the best. I feel like I work … I know stomach pretty well, too. I think I work stomach and Spleen a lot just because it’s really nice in treatments to kind of as a paired meridian to kind of go down the leg on the outside and then come up at the Spleen. But also, those points on the torso are real powerful and I can do a lot of work in the channel with that, as well.

Raymond:

The Spleen meridian starts, I forgot to mention that part, on your big toe. So the sort of inside corner of your big toe. I know I used to do when I worked at the acupuncture clinic, I would do moxa on that point a lot for stuff related to Spleen channel. We can talk about that. Why was I doing moxa? Why was that prescribed?

Billy:

To warm the channel, I’m sure. I think it would be to warm the channel, right, on Spleen one and also, it stops bleeding probably.

Raymond:

I think that’s what it was. I think it was probably usually related to menstrual stuff you know what I mean? People sometimes say, “Oh, I’ve been on my cycle for three weeks.” You know what I mean?

Billy:

Yes.

Raymond:

So it can be kind of helpful for that.

Billy:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Raymond:

Sorry. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. What was that other doctor doing Billy Janes?

Billy:

I was not really clear to what was happening and so I was like, “I think it was this.”

Raymond:

Oh am I talking now? I’m talking now.

Billy:

Totally.

Raymond:

Yeah. No, sorry. I was just because I was thinking when I worked at my clinic, it was the acupuncturist would sort of prescribe certain procedures.

Billy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Totally.

Raymond:

So you know, that was why I was thinking oh, let me toss this to the acupuncturist.

Billy:

Yeah.

Raymond:

Whose client that wasn’t. But you know …

Billy:

Well it’s kind of that standard. You know, just for our listeners, there’s standard points that are used. Each point on the body is used in certain ways to do certain things. And some of them are, you know, very … We’ve talked about it before. Stomach 36 for the stomach channel, the one that’s below your kneecap on the outside of your leg. There’s that point which is called the Three Leg Mile which is supposed to help, you know, give you energy.

Billy:

And so you know, Spleen one, for example, and Spleen … I use Spleen three and four a lot. And those are on the big toe, kind of in that more sensitive part of your metacarpal area.

Raymond:

Oh yeah. Spleen three is the one that’s kind of right over the kind of big bone, right? The knobby area? Yeah.

Billy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. It’s if you look at your big toe, it would be the … You know, if you look at your big toe, it’s that big joint when you bend your toe just beyond the inside of that area. If you press in there, you’ll feel a tenderness and that whole little area along that bone coming towards you, that has Spleen three and four in it and those are both really good for helping the Spleen with transformation and transportation, but it’s also really good for dampness, Spleen four specifically.

Billy:

So I do a lot of combinations working with those because it seems to me that the Spleen is related in a lot of different conditions because if anything goes off with the nervous system, any kind of stress, somehow digestion is always impacted. And it’s effects of the Spleen. So that’s kind of a go-to for me.

Raymond:

Yeah. I was thinking about you mentioned earlier, too, you were talking about Spleen and stress and the nervous system and then related to liver/blood or liver. And I was reminded of my acupuncturist friend, Elon Cameron, who told me once that she always thinks about the liver as sort of the manager boss of the body and then the Spleen is sort of the overworked executive assistant who is trying to keep up with everything that the liver is throwing at him.

Raymond:

And so sometimes, that’s sort of that relationship, too. And so if there’s a liver imbalance in the body, that can push upon the Spleen, too. So Spleen chi deficiency, I feel like is sort of … It almost feels like a catch-all thing that everyone who has ever been to acupuncture, I feel like it’s either liver stagnation or Spleen chi deficiency. Liver stagnation or [inaudible 00:36:12]. The whole world can be divided … not really, but they are both fairly common.

Raymond:

And they’re both, I feel like they’re sort of … You know, so much of what we talk about is how these systems are inter-related, so I think of them as both being these sort of just linchpin sort of imbalances or conditions, deficiencies or excess. So it’s one of those that maybe it is something else that’s either causing it or it’s having an effect on, but because those are just such powerful baseline sort of imbalances, it’s a good way to enter into treating and boosting the body.

Raymond:

Oh, I was going to talk about a little … So the Spleen itself is located … We talked about where the stomach is, where it’s sort of just below your ribs on the left side, so the Spleen is in that same quadrant of your abdomen, sort of the top left point. And there have definitely been times in my life where you sort of touch on that area, you can kind of tap it or pad it with your palm with a soft fist. If it’s really sensitive, that area is actually called the Spleen jumping point. And so sometimes in an abdominal massage, when you go to a Western … Not massage.

Raymond:

An abdominal examination when you go to the Western doctor for a general exam and they hit that point just to kind of see if you jump. And I think it’s about that area is where a lot of lymph hangs out and so if you kind of stimulate that area, so a lot of times if it’s feeling sensitive there in your sort of Spleen, it feels tender to the touch, you can sort of do gentle massage, you kind of go in sort of circles. You can try clockwise and counter-clockwise, see which one feels.

Raymond:

Usually I feel like one way will feel kind of [inaudible 00:37:56] and queasy and the other way feels good. Always go with the one that feels good. You don’t need to go … Don’t make me feel queasy. That’s the right one. I think a lot of times whenever I talk to people about stimulating points or massaging things, you know, they want to make sure they’re doing it right. And I always try and allay people’s fears. You’re not going to turn the whole factory backwards by accidentally going the wrong way, you know what I mean?

Raymond:

Your body can kind of take it. And really anything at any time can be medicine. It just has to be applied at the right time, right? But anyway, back to your Spleen jumping point. So that Spleen area is a good area to tap. And then another fun thing to do, so in Shiatsu, we also work the hara which is called the middle section or the torso. So all of these channels and meridians we’ve been talking about have sensors that are sort of located in our belly. And so I can touch points on the channel, but I can also sort of touch a certain place on the belly that’s the hara center of that meridian.

Raymond:

And the hara center for the Spleen channel is actually our belly button. So one nice thing you can do is kind of rub your belly button in a clockwise direction and then tap the Spleen jumping point. It’s kind of like tapping your head and rubbing your belly, you’re tapping your Spleen. That’s a nice sort of Spleen soothing self-Shiatsu that you can do.

Raymond:

And then I also do that Spleen four-point we were talking about on the foot. So if you’re sitting down on the ground and kind of if you’re putting your feet in front of you so they’re almost like sole-to-sole the way you do if you kind of doing a butterfly groin stretch where you have your elbows and your knees and you lean forward. And then I kind of basically that rounded bone on your foot just kind of right kind of if you slide down the bone into the arch of your foot, there’s that real tender spot. I like to kind of put my thumb there and kind of do a nice little clockwise tender and I’ll just kind of work down that inner part of that arch of the foot along the Spleen channel. Usually, that always feels really good.

Raymond:

Or I also will, I kind of will gently rub it back and forth almost like you’re trying to create heat. So that’s a kind of nice one, too. It’s just a little warming up the channel. And you can do that on your inner thighs, too. I find myself doing that to my Spleen channel when I’m sitting down, kind of starting at your thigh, up and down, this real fast brush your hands and generate heat. That’s kind of a good one.

Raymond:

So if you have been diagnosed with Spleen chi deficiency, please try all of these exercises after consulting.

Billy:

Yeah. Those are great.

Raymond:

Yeah. So do you have any herbs you would recommend for the Spleen Billy Janes? Cue music.

Billy:

Food as medicine. You know, this is really big. It’s a really big idea. Food as medicine is a really big idea in Chinese medicine. And the idea that what we eat can really have a big impact on our healing and that, you know, herbal interventions and other things come after that. And so I think for helping the Spleen one of the best suggestions I can make is to eat foods that are yellow and orange in color, so squash and pumpkin and you know, all those kinds of yellow and orange foods are really great. Sweet potato is a huge one. That could be really great. You could have some potato, as well.

Billy:

Also, Shiitake mushroom and Reishi mushroom have been shown in studies to boost. We have them in the list of foods that are for boosting chi and you know, supporting the Spleen. But they’ve also been shown in Western studies to boost the immune system, as well. So if you want to make a mushroom broth, that is really good. We would consider that to be really good for the Spleen, as well. And you can have that three times a week or something like that.

Raymond:

Oh yeah. I saw you making that mushroom broth on the Instagram.

Billy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). My Instagram, Billy Janes, LAc.

Raymond:

Nicely done. Nicely done. I’m Mountains in Shiatsu and I’m thinking about actually kind of activating it. I basically, I kind of post a waterfall post picture on it twice a year. It’s not very active, but I might actually start doing some videos of me out in the world doing shake practice and meditation practice. So if you want to check me out on Instagram, Mountains and Shiatsu and what was yours again Billy? Billy Janes, LAc. Is that correct?

Billy:

Yes.

Raymond:

Which is for a licensed acupuncturist in case you didn’t know.

Billy:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And we follow each other, so if you have a hard time finding either one of us, you can just …

Raymond:

Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure both of us have posted our heads for the Healing With Raymond And Billy podcast, too.

Billy:

Sure. We have.

Raymond:

[inaudible 00:43:00] our profile. So right. So you mentioned food as medicine and that’s true for all of the meridians, but the Spleen really is kind of like you were saying, the most influenced by it more than even any of the other meridians. But it’s interesting, when you were talking about mushrooms. I’m someone who loves mushrooms in theory, but I do not love them in my mouth generally. But I’m okay with the flavor. So your mushroom broth, if you made that mushroom broth and then if you pulled the mushrooms out and then I used that broth for a soup, I would totally eat that and I totally like the flavor of them.

Raymond:

But then also, you can do mushroom tinctures. So if you are trying to get sort of more mushrooms in your life because of the good health benefits that Billy was talking about, but if you are like me and you don’t really love mushrooms, you can even make your own tincture or look for those. I see them for sale, too.

Billy:

Yeah.

Raymond:

Excellent.

Billy:

And if you need to buy any kind of herbal remedy like that, for example mushroom tincture, I always recommend MountainRoseHerbs.com because they have really high-quality stuff and the price is right.

Raymond:

And they did not pay us to say that. We just don’t have a lot of money.

Billy:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s kind of my point, though, is I think a lot of people wonder like, “Okay, so in order for me to go find a high-quality tincture, I need to go to Whole Foods or a very expensive place and I need to get what they have.” But there are also ways that you can do it. If you go and look at Frontier Co-op’s herbs and the cost and the price, they charge more for organic things. And so it’s cheaper and the quality of MountainRoseHerbs.com is just so much better and it’s organic already, so I just kind of go there.

Raymond:

That’s awesome. But you know, the herbs at Frontier, you’d be surprised that if you go in with a plan for a specific formula and you’re interested in making your own medicine, a lot of times it ends up being I’ll spend 14, 15 dollars on herbs and then I go and get the cheap vodka because Billy Janes told me you don’t have to buy fancy vodka and your tinctures taste delicious. So I was like, “Great.” So I totally got the Popov or whatever with the fake Russian, you know, some logo on it. That was 8.99 for a giant thing of vodka. Put all the herbs in a quart jar, probably only used half the vodka.

Raymond:

So I made a quart of medicine for $20 and that’s going to last me. Sometimes I’ve had formulas that I take a lot, but it still lasts me almost a year just because, you know … Yeah. Because what is, you know, the big tincture bottles are 4 ounces, but if you think about those big Mason jars, those are 32 ounces. So I feel like I went to the herbalist eight times over.

Raymond:

So even if you are just starting out and you want to experiment with just making your own herbal medicine, there’s a lot of good resources out there to kind of get you started to pick a plant and just start doing it yourself and see how it makes you feel. And the more you work with it and the more you learn what one plant does, then you start to move on and open the world to other plants, as well.

Raymond:

All right. Anything else we want to say about the Spleen before we close out this episode?

Billy:

I think what you just said was so beautiful. The way you just said that was such a natural flow to the ending. I don’t really think … I can’t really think of anything.

Raymond:

It’s nice to finally put this skill to use. I feel like I have this ability to pull my string, I don’t know. I’ll just start talking about something. Who knows what will come out? Just let metabolized things from all the pop culture I’ve absorbed through the decades. I’m sure anything that’s come out of my mouth that sounds good, I probably stole it, so as all great artists do.

Billy:

Exactly.

Raymond:

All right my friend. Thank you for talking to me today about the Spleen.

Billy:

Thank you.

Raymond:

Thank you to all our listeners for sitting with us again today and we look forward to seeing you next time in episode 5. What comes after Spleen? I don’t remember.

Billy:

I was thinking about this the other day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s