Spleen Yang Deficiency

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 脾阳虚      Pinyin name: Pí Yáng Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Yang Deficiency

Common combinations: Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Kidney Yang Deficiency Spleen Qi Deficiency Spleen Qi Sinking and five other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. External Cold and Dampness, 2. Diet, 3. Emotional stress, 4. Chronic diseases, 5. Mental-excertion

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Gas Chills Bloating Lassitude Cold limbs and six other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale and wet tongue

Treatment

Treatment principle: Tonify and warm Spleen Yang.

Common formulas: Zhen Wu Tang Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang Yi Huang Tang

Pathology

Generally speaking, Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe. The common manifestations are these related to digestive functions such as loose stools, poor appetite, slight abdominal distension and pain after eating, gas and bloating. Since the Spleen fails to transport the Food Qi to the body, patients also suffer from general fatigue, lassitude, weak limbs, pale tongue and face. Patients prefers to lie down. 

On top of above, the Yang Deficiency also brings in additional Cold symptoms, such as a cold feeling and cold limbs. It is because Spleen Yang fails to warm the body and Organs. Therefore, the body metabolism get slower and some food are not digested properly and passes directly into the stools.

Since the Spleen fails to perform the function of transforming and transporting fluids, the circulation of Body Fluids is disturbed, causing symptoms such as Oedema, vaginal discharge and Lung mucus. The Yang Deficiency pattern is even more likely to form Dampness and Phlegm.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Spleen Yang Deficiency can derive from Kidney Yang Deficiency Spleen Qi Deficiency Spleen Qi Sinking Spleen Blood Deficiency Spleen not controlling Blood Small Intestine Deficient and Cold Large Intestine Cold Cold invading the Large Intestine

External Cold and Dampness: Prolonged exposure in a cold and damp environment can largely harm the Spleen and cause Deficiency or Sinking there. If it is not addressed for a while, it can develop further to Spleen Yang Deficiency.  The Dampness and Cold here can be a nature environment or artificial ones such as air condition or refrigerated storage spaces.

Diet: Nowadays our diets are rich in sugars, fats, iced drinks, junk food and cold raw foods. This harms the Spleen function of transformation and transportation and leads to Spleen Qi Deficiency or Qi Sinking. If it is not addressed for a while, it can develop further to Spleen Yang Deficiency.  Other bad eating habits also impair Spleen Qi, such as inconsistent meals, eating standing up or on the run, eating while reading or discussing business over meals, eating too little or too much food, or eating a protein-deficient diet.

Emotional stress: Emotional stress, especially pensiveness and worry, can greatly weakened the Spleen function and cause Qi and Yang Deficiency there.

Chronic diseases: Any long-term illness tends to weaken the Spleen, causing Qi and Yang Deficient there.

Mental-excertion: Mental-excertion on work or study can largely deplete the Spleen Qi and eventually develops to Spleen Yang Deficiency.

Diagnosing Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale and wet tongue

Main symptoms: Gas Chills Bloating Lassitude Cold limbs Pale complexion Sallow complexion Desire to lie down curled up Undigested food in the stools Slight abdominal distension after eating Abdominal pain and distension relieved by pressure and warmth

Diagnosis commentary: The key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the loose stools, feeling cold and tiredness.

Treating Spleen Yang Deficiency

Treatment principle

Tonify and warm Spleen Yang.

Herbal formulas used to treat Spleen Yang Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Formula summary

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1247, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Spleen Yang Deficiency, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is also used to treat Qi Deficiency or Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Formula summary

Zhen Wu Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm and transform water and Dampness.

Besides Spleen Yang Deficiency, Zhen Wu Tang is also used to treat Oedema or Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Formula summary

Yi Huang Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that secure irregular uterine bleeding and stop vaginal discharge.

Besides Spleen Yang Deficiency, Yi Huang Tang is also used to treat Damp-Heat or Spleen Deficiency.

Read more about Yi Huang Tang

Diet recommendations

Eat beef, lamb, rice, millet, barley, whole grains, winter squash, cooked vegetables, greens and plenty of protein, all cooked foods and avoid raw or cold foods which are hard to digest.  

As for sports, try light exercises such as walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Can also try Four Purifications, Ujjayi pranayam or Eight Brocades with special emphasis on exercises numbers 2, 3 and 7. 

As for therapies, try moxibustion over the navel, lower abdomen and Kidneys. 

Find a way to destress and working on the emotional problems.

Related conditions

Hypertension Pelvic inflammatory disease Trigeminal neuralgia Menieres disease Congestive heart failure Rheumatoid arthritis Lumbar disc disease Sciatica Chronic glomerulonephritis Hyperaldosteronism Hypothyroidism Ascites from cirrhosis Orthostatic hypotension Basilar insufficiency Osteoarthritis Piriformis syndrome Postconcussion headache

Consequence patterns

Stomach Yang Deficiency (Stomach Deficient and Cold)

If left untreated Spleen Yang Deficiency can lead to Stomach Yang Deficiency (Stomach Deficient and Cold)

Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency

A chronic condition of Spleen Yang Deficiency frequently leads to a combined Yang Deficiency of the Kidneys.

Small Intestine Deficient and Cold

Spleen Yang Deficiency is nearly always the precursor of Small Intestine Deficient and Cold

Large Intestine Cold

Large Intestine Cold is a Deficiency pattern and it is mostly due to Spleen Yang Deficiency. 

Cold invading the Large Intestine

If a patients has Deficiency in the Stomach and the Spleen, he/she is more likely to be invaded by Cold in the Large Intestine

Empty Cold

Empty-Cold develops when Yang Qi is weak and fails
to warm the body. It is mostly related to Spleen Yang. 

Oedema

The Spleen is responsible for water transformation and transportation. The impairment of this function can cause Body Fluids to overflow out of the channels and settle in the space between skin and the muscles in the middle part of the body, such as the abdomen and limbs.

Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine

Phlegm-Fluids in Stomach and Intestines simply refers to a pattern whereby Phlegm-Fluids accumulates in those Organs. It often does so when the transportive and transformative functions of the Middle-Burner are damaged due to Spleen Yang Deficiency

Kidney Qi not Firm

A long-standing, chronic of Spleen Yang Deficiency can lead to Kidney Qi not Firm. 

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Spleen Yang Deficiency may also lead to Kidney Yang Deficiency, especially if there is Dampness. 

Dampness

Due to Spleen Yang Deficiency, Body Fluids in the Spleen can not be transformed properly. It then accumulates and form Dampness, Phlegm or Damp-Phlegm in the Organ. 

Phlegm

Due to Spleen Yang Deficiency, Body Fluids in the Spleen can not be transformed properly. It then accumulates and form Dampness, Phlegm or Damp-Phlegm in the Organ. 

Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency is often a result of Spleen Qi or Yang Deficiency, because the Deficient Food Qi (Gu Qi) there fails to produce enough Blood for the body in general. 

Heart Qi Deficiency

A Spleen Qi or Yang Deficiency may also affect the Heart, giving rise to Heart Qi and often Heart-Blood Deficiency. 

Lung Qi Deficiency

According to Five Phases theory, Earth (the Spleen) is the Mother of Metal (the Lungs).  Therefore Spleen Qi or Yang Deficiency often leads to Lung Qi Deficiency. 

Spleen Qi Sinking

When the Spleen Qi and Yang is weak, it fails to raise Qi so that it can not hold the Organs in their original places in Lower and Middle Burners.

Spleen not controlling Blood

When Spleen Qi or Yang is Deficient, which is a pre-requesite in this case, the Spleen fails to fulfill its function of holding Blood in the vessels.

This is why bleeding symptoms appears all over the place: under the skin, in the stools, the urine or from the Uterus.

Spleen Blood Deficiency

Spleen Blood Deficiency is always preceded by Spleen Qi Deficiency because the Deficient Food Qi (Gu Qi) fails to produce enough Blood. 

When the Qi Deficiency pattern lasts for a long time without being addressed properly, it develops to Spleen Yang Deficiency. 

Therefore, Spleen Yang Deficiency can also cause the Blood Deficiency there. 

Cold in the Uterus

If left untreated Spleen Yang Deficiency can lead to Cold in the Uterus