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Big “S’ Spleen and Little “s” Spleen- Understanding Organs in Chinese Medicine
The language of an acupuncturist can be baffling. "Something's wrong with my kidneys? Do I have stones? My Spleen is giving me hemorrhoids? What's a san jiao and where is it?"
We're hoping to clear this up a bit.
Cultures have different versions of god, gender, food, and behavior to name a few. They often overlap but are sometimes different. The same can be said with how the body works, is described and perceived.
The emphasis in Chinese medicine is more on what an organ does and less on the actual anatomic structure. There is even an organ, the san jiao, that's only a function and has actual structure! Organs also have different jobs that you wouldn't necessarily associate them with. They are better defined as ‘organ systems.' The way organs relate to each other is also important and they are rarely treated as isolated entities. Organs even have a psychological and sprit component.
One example is the spleen
The little s spleen, the one most of us are familiar with, is a major part of the immune system. The spleen removes and destroys old, aged red blood cells, and synthesizes new antibodies. It's kind of like a big lymph node.
The big S Spleen in Chinese medicine has completely different functions. One function is to transform food into Blood and QI, which nourishes and moistens the entire body. If you are pale and dizzy with no muscle tone, an acupuncturist may look to strengthen your Spleen for treatment.
For information on the function of organs in Chinese medicine go to: