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Carrie is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a National Board-Certified Acupuncturist by the NCCAOM. She graduated with a 4-year Masters of Science in Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado.

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Nurturing From Within: The Crucial Role of Gut Health in Overall Well-Being

Feb 29, 2024

In the intricate symphony of our bodies, the gut takes center stage as a conductor of health. Beyond its reputation for digestion, the gut holds a far more profound significance in influencing overall well-being. From boosting immunity to enhancing mood, the importance of gut health cannot be overstated. In this article, we delve into the remarkable connection between gut health and our holistic vitality. Then we will explore how this translates to focusing on nourishing the spleen in Eastern Medicine.

The Gut- Health Connection

Picture your gut as a bustling metropolis, bustling with trillions of microbes collectively known as the gut microbiota. This microbial community, comprising bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more, forms a delicate ecosystem that plays a vital role in maintaining our health. When this community thrives, we flourish; when imbalanced, we may encounter various health issues. Think mood disturbances, hormone fluctuations, sleep problems, weakened immune system and digestive issues.

1. Digestive Dynamo

First and foremost, the gut is the gateway to our nutritional sustenance. It’s where the magic of digestion unfolds, breaking down food into nutrients our body can absorb. A well-functioning gut ensures optimal absorption of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, fueling every cell and system in our body.

2. Immunity Booster

Did you know that about 70-80% of our immune cells reside in the gut? A robust gut microbiota supports a strong immune system, acting as a defense against harmful pathogens. When the balance of gut microbes is compromised, our immune response can weaken, leaving us more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

3. Serotonin Synthesizer

The gut-brain connection is a fascinating link that highlights the gut’s impact on our emotional well-being. Serotonin, often referred to as the “happy hormone,” is largely produced in the gut. An imbalanced gut microbiota has been associated with mood disorders, emphasizing the need for a harmonious gut environment for a balanced mind.

4. Inflammation Regulation

Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a range of health issues, from cardiovascular diseases to autoimmune disorders. A healthy gut microbiota helps regulate inflammation by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory compounds. Conversely, an imbalanced gut can contribute to systemic inflammation, increasing the risk of chronic diseases.

5. Nutrient Synthesis

Beyond digestion, the gut microbiota assists in synthesizing certain vitamins, like B vitamins and vitamin K, which are crucial for various bodily functions, including blood clotting and energy production.

Cultivating a Healthy Gut: Focus on the Spleen

Understanding Spleen QI

In Chinese medicine, the concept of Qi refers to the body’s vital energy, and the Spleen is a key organ involved in the production and distribution of Qi. Unlike the anatomical view of the spleen in Western medicine, the Chinese Medicine Spleen encompasses a broader function that includes the pancreas and parts of the digestive system.

1. Transformation of Food

The Spleen is responsible for transforming the food we consume into Qi and Blood. This transformative process is crucial for providing energy to the body.

2. Distribution of Nutrients

Once transformed, the Spleen helps distribute the nutrients derived from food to other organs and tissues, ensuring proper nourishment.

3. Supporting Immune Function

Chinese medicine associates the Spleen with the immune system. A strong Spleen Qi is believed to contribute to a robust defense against external pathogens.

4. Stabilizing the Mind

In traditional Chinese thought, the Spleen is also linked to the mind. An imbalance in Spleen Qi can lead to overthinking, worry, and lack of focus.

Factors Contributing to Spleen Qi Imbalance:

Several factors can disrupt the delicate balance of Spleen Qi, leading to various health issues. Some common contributors include:

1. Poor Diet

Diets high in processed foods, excessive cold or raw foods, and irregular eating habits can weaken the Spleen. To nourish the spleen it’s important to avoid cold and raw foods, such as salads, smoothies, ice water, raw veggies and sushi.

2. Overthinking and Worry

Mental and emotional stress, especially excessive worry and overthinking, can impact the Spleen.

3. Dampness and Phlegm

Conditions related to the accumulation of dampness and phlegm can impair Spleen function. If your constitution is prone to accumulating damp/phlegm, it’s important to stay away from dairy, soy and sugar and really avoid cold and raw foods.

Ways to Support Spleen Qi:

1. Balanced Nutrition

Emphasize warm, cooked foods and incorporate easily digestible items. Limit the intake of cold or raw foods, as these can weaken the Spleen. Think soups, roasted veggies, cooked meats, warm teas, room temp water, bone broth, etc..

2. Mindful Eating

Eat in a relaxed environment, chew food thoroughly, and maintain regular meal times to support the Spleen’s transformative functions. Most people don’t chew their food enough, this is the first step in digestion, where we release enzymes in our saliva to help break down food. Try chewing each bite on average 30 times before swallowing.

3. Herbal Support

Chinese herbs such as ginseng, astragalus, and ginger are known for their supportive effects on Spleen Qi. Ginger and Cinnamon are both warming and great for the spleen, so add them to dishes, coffee, and teas.

4. Acupuncture and Acupressure

Acupuncture, particularly targeting Spleen meridians, can help balance Qi. Acupressure techniques can be used for self-care.

5. Emotional Well-being

Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and stress reduction techniques can contribute to emotional balance, benefiting the Spleen.


In the intricate system of traditional Chinese medicine, maintaining the balance of Spleen Qi is integral to overall health and vitality. By adopting lifestyle practices that support the Spleen’s transformative and nourishing functions, individuals can enhance their well-being on both a physical and emotional level. Understanding the significance of Spleen Qi allows us to embrace a holistic approach to health, acknowledging the interconnection between mind, body, and the vital energy that sustains us.

A flourishing gut microbiota influences digestion, immunity, mood, and beyond. As we nurture our spleen and gut health, we pave the way for a life brimming with vitality, balance, and optimal health. Remember, a healthy gut is a lifelong investment in your overall well-being.

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