Love Your Spleen

An area which can be presented on the feet as ‘congested’ or unbalanced during reflexology sessions is the spleen.  Quite often, this surprises people as they (understandably) haven’t really given the organ much thought!  So what is the spleen, what does it do and how can you look after yours…?

What is the spleen?

Part of the lymphatic system, the spleen is composed of lymphatic tissue.  It sits on the left hand side of the abdomen, beneath the diaphragm and behind the stomach.  An average adult sized spleen is said to be the similar size to a large apple!

What does it do?

  • acts as a reservoir for blood – if you had an accident, the spleen’s blood supply would be diverted to the area where a hemorrhage occurred.
  • functions as an important part of the immune system – lymphocytes (white blood cells) are produced in the spleen.
  • filters old, worn out red blood cells and destroys them after they’ve reached the end of their 120 day life.

How can you look after your spleen?

ginger lemon honey tea

Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

stay hydrated to help the spleen function
  • drink enough fluids throughout the day (ideally water, herbal teas, and low or no caffeine/sugar drinks should make up your daily fluid intake.  Alcoholic drinks should ideally be consumed minimally).
support the immune system
  • eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, consider taking fish oils or flaxseed.
  • You might also want to take a multivitamin at certain times of the year or if you’re worried that you’re not consuming enough fresh fruits/vegetables on occasion.  As we age, some studies suggest that our reduced immune function (as a consequence of the natural ageing process) can be lessened via supplements of antioxidants and B complex vitamins.
  • And of course, try wherever possible to reduce stress.  We know that prolonged or repeated periods of stress can be responsible for making us unwell.  Chronic stress can seriously affect the immune system because of increased adrenalin and corticosterone (hormones which are produced by the adrenal glands) in the bloodstream.  Try to deal specifically with the stressor(s) in your life; can you reduce any?  Can you change the way that you’re responding to them?  Can you seek any support such as counselling, stress management, relaxation classes, Tai Chi, yoga or take physical exercise to help to let go of tension?
  • Some studies cite ginger as a beneficial dietary addition to supporting spleen health.  It’s also an excellent spice for numerous complaints such as nausea, anti-inflammatory and pain-relief actions.  So if you suffer from indigestion or arthritis, it could be worth a try.

CAUTION: If you’re pregnant and suffering from morning sickness, receiving chemotherapy or have a medical condition please seek advice before taking multivitamins or ginger supplements.

Whilst the body can survive without the spleen (if it has to be removed), the NHS Choices website states that there is a small risk that an infection can quickly become serious without a spleen.  Ways to minimize this risk include:

  • keeping up to date with vaccinations
  • watching out for signs of infections (high fever, sore throat etc.)
  • Read more of the advice offered by the NHS here

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