Qi tank full

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!




  • Heather

    Reply Reply April 11, 2017

    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

      Reply Reply April 11, 2017


      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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