Spleen Qi Deficiency – what is it?

funny omg imageSpleen Qi Deficiency – OMG!

I am often asked what to do about Spleen Qi deficiency.
It is a common diagnosis by Acupuncturists and Chinese medical Herbalists. Like any diagnosis, being told that you have a Spleen Qi Deficiency can leave you feeling concerned and confused. Take a deep breath, and let’s investigate…

The Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Unlike western medicine, Chinese medicine views the Spleen as part of an energetic network that includes the spleen organ and the function of digestion. Qi (“chee”) refers to energy, breath, and vitality.
Qi is the key to life, just like oxygen. Without Qi, nothing functions and nothing lives. Chinese medicine works with Qi in order to resolve ailments of body, mind, or emotion.

Absorbing Qi

Gathering Qi from the breathThere are two primary ways to gather Qi:

  1. Digestion
  2. Breathing

The Lungs bring in Qi through the breath, while the Spleen absorbs Qi during digestion. If the Spleen is off balance or weak, its ability to absorb Qi is hindered. This condition is called Spleen Qi Deficiency. A few common symptoms of this phenomena are feeling tired, fuzzy thinking, feeling heavy, and poor digestion.

The Spleen needs plentiful Qi.


Qi tank full

The Spleen itself needs plentiful Qi in order to function at “top speed.”

Qi powers the Spleen.
The Spleen absorbs Qi.
From this we can understand that if there is not enough Qi for the Spleen, then the Spleen’s digestive functions are reduced and the amount of Qi available for the rest of the body is also reduced. The Spleen’s energy (Qi) is needed for both physical digestion as we know it in the west and to absorb Qi.
If we have less Qi (deficient Qi) overall, then we feel tired, muddy in our thinking, or even emotionally undernourished. Physically, we may experience poor digestion – bloating, cramping, gas, or fatigue after meals.
The cycle of Spleen Qi Deficiency

The cycle of Spleen Qi Deficiency

Symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency

Spleen Qi Deficiency can be a challenging (but not impossible) cycle to break out of. Like any energetic pattern of imbalance, it can be more or less severe, and a variety of manifestations are possible.
Qi is related to and impacts the body, mind, and emotions. Certain characteristics are specific to the Spleen Organ System. Based on the nature of the Spleen, when it is weak, some people may experience fuzzy thinking, some may be stuck in worry, and some may experience physical fatigue. These are some different manifestations all arising from the same root energetic pattern of imbalance – Spleen Qi Deficiency.

5 ways to support your Spleen Qi

  1. When you eat, be as calm as possible. Take a few breaths before you begin eating.
  2. Chew your food more than usual. This will make the job of digestion within the organs easier.
  3. cat nappingIf you are tired in the afternoon, take a nap. Even 20 minutes of quiet rest will go a long way.
  4. Take a little time for yourself every day to nourish your mind and emotions. Perhaps a quiet cup of tea, writing, reading, enjoying the view, taking a short walk, or consciously feeling into 5 deep breaths.
  5. Enjoy long-cooked, warm soup. Soup is a nutritious and easy to digest food. Spleens loves warm soup!

To continue learning, check out the “All About the Spleen Meridian” video on demand.

Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Julie on May 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you SO much!! I am going to check out that link! I look forward to taking your courses, hopefully in the near future!

  2. Julie on April 27, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Hi there, I recently decided to begin practicing Qigong with a wonderful instructor. I think this is going to be a life saver for me, figuratively and literally, as I have constantly been tired, anxious, etc… (most people don’t notice because I “fake it until I make it” every day) for years; and my digestion is not the best. I, also, decided, that in order to understand all that is happening to my body with Qigong practicing/learning (and OMG! there are a lot of changes going on) – that I should learn as much as I can about TCM in general. I am extremely interested in incorporating all of your courses into my learning experience, not only for myself, but also for my massage clients. In reading this post in your blog (about the speen deficiency) I am very concerned. When I was 12, I had my spleen removed because it was withholding my platelets, therefore making my platelet count dangerously low. Back then, the thing to do was remove the spleen instead of trying other organic measures. SO, I guess, my consistent daily fatigue, mental fogginess (as well as tendency toward being internally anxious), and poor digestion is all related to my not having a spleen. My question to you is this – – what does this mean for me in the TCM sense?

    • Cindy Black on April 28, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Hi Julie,
      Although your physical spleen was removed, you still have all of the energetics of your Spleen Organ System. Qi Gong will be a wonderful boost to all of your Organ Systems – as you continue your practice, you will notice which ones serve you the most.
      Keep in mind that you have been living all these years without your spleen – TCM offers another perspective, and other possibilities for all of us to support our body-mind-spirit. This post may help you with all of the pieces to the complex of Chinese medicine http://bigtreehealing.com/elements-emotions-organs-meridians/
      My experience is that little by little, things fall into place – I wish the same for you.

  3. Heather on April 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Is it true that once vitality begins to fade it is not possible to replenish it? This is what a chinese herbalist told me. Sounds quite sad and hopeless, if true.

    • Cindy Black on April 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      The detail is that when our Life Force, or Kidney Essence fades, that is challenging to gain back or preserve. Preserving this Essence is the intention and goal of self-care practices such as Qi Gong and healthy living habits.
      Spleen Qi is easier to care for – as we can choose healthy foods, take time to eat, rest well etc.

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