In Chinese Medicine the digestive system belongs to the Spleen organ system (including both the Stomach and Pancreas) and each organ system within Chinese Medicine contains a collection of symptoms that make up a pattern that we look for when a patient comes to see us.
Underneath the umbrella of a Spleen organ system in disharmony are probably some obvious or intuitive symptoms such as upset stomach, bloating, changes with bowel movements, nausea, but as Chinese Medicine also includes things of a mental and spiritual nature, symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, a tendency to ruminate and worry are also relevant. Other things we might see if there is an issue with the Spleen system is dampness in the body which can manifest as edema, weight gain or mucus production.
There are flavors that are associated with each organ system, and sweetness is the flavor connected with the Spleen. This means that sweetness can be both beneficial to the Spleen (for example, cooked yams and root vegetables are typically easier to digest, especially for those who have irritated gut linings as they contain high soluble fiber and low insoluble fiber)
and its demise when in excess (for example, obesity and/or insulin resistance as a result of excess consumption of refined sugars).
Chinese medicine is very based on cycles in nature, and associates different seasons with each organ system. They break down the year into 5 seasons, not 4, separating summer from the late summer (aka Indian Summer) that usually occurs during the September and October months. This late summer season is Spleen time (and, arguably, the best season here in San Francisco).
Often times the foods produced during a given season, are ones that are good for our bodies given the nature of the climate outside. Late summer is a good time to eat the naturally sweet foods that are available, such as berries, apples, pears and carrots. To support a healthy digestion, Chinese medicine recommends eating with others, eating slowly and in moderation, and taking time to really chew your food.
If you are having any digestion concerns, acupuncture can help ease discomfort and reduce inflammation. There are also many Chinese medicinal herbs that can be soothing. Here at Tiny Needles we carry a very popular TCM formula - brazenly named Curing Pills - for addressing all manner of digestive distress from stomach pain, to bloating, to nausea, to loose stools, and even hangovers. It is a good one to keep in the just-in-case drawer at home. Feel free to ask us about it the next time you are in.
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Tiny Needles is an oasis for healing in the center of San Francisco.. We are located in a Victorian built in 1900 in Japantown.
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