The spleen is an organ that is primarily used to filter red blood cells. It's considered an important but optional organ, as removal doesn't lead to death, but may put a person at risk for a few diseases that do carry a greater mortality risk.
Generally, the spleen plays little role with anxiety, and the organ itself has very little function. It may be affected by stress, but it doesn't appear to be medically associated with anxiety. However, there are many cultures that believe an affected spleen is actually responsible for anxiety. We'll explore that idea in this article.
Spleen Disorder Symptoms and Anxiety
You cannot feel a problem with your spleen unless it is enlarged, which will cause pain in the area near the enlarged spleen. It's also very difficult to diagnose a spleen problem yourself. The symptoms are very similar to those experienced by numerous other conditions.
By simply looking at the symptoms of spleen disorders, it's clear that these are not issues that can be easily characterized as common from anxiety. Symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Infection risk
- Bleeding problems
Anxiety and stress really can affect every part of your body, and it's possible that they can create issues with your spleen, but it would be nearly impossible to tell and the symptoms are too different to link it directly to anxiety or stress. With the exception of fatigue and some of the symptoms of anemia, they do not resemble anxiety and are rarely precipitated by anxiety to any noticeable degree.
Those with spleen disorders may get anxiety as a result of their symptoms, but it doesn't appear that anxiety can create the spleen issues directly.
Why is The Spleen Linked to Anxiety?
Despite this, the spleen has been linked to anxiety, and that is primarily due to beliefs in Chinese medicine. Within Chinese medicine, it is believed that the spleen is the home for your emotional worries, and that it is responsible for the processing of food.
Chinese medicine believes the spleen has a very different role in the body than western medicine. There is a belief that when the spleen doesn't receive the nutrients it needs, it is unable to convert food into blood and qi - two important parts of a healthy body.
Through herbs and dietary changes, Chinese medicine believes that one can put the spleen in better health, and eventually that will have an effect on anxiety levels.
Improving Spleen Health to Improve Anxiety
Traditional Chinese medicine is not supported in the research. Few studies have shown it to have any effect compared to placebo, and most research confirms that the spleen doesn't appear to play a role in nutrients or food processing. In Western medicine, the spleen and anxiety are not linked, so there is currently no treatment available to deal with the spleen directly other than talking to your doctor.
Those that subscribe to Chinese medicine however could conceivably benefit from the following:
- Acupuncture There are various acupuncture points that are believed to target areas of the body responsible for the spleen, the blood, and the qi, and ultimately reduce anxiety as a result.
- Ginger - Ginger is also believed to improve spleen health. Eating ginger with your meals is supposedly effective at improving spleen function.
- Reducing Refined Sugars There is some evidence that cutting down on refined sugars can improve your anxiety levels, and Chinese medicine believes this is because it reduces spleen dampness.
While there isn't much evidence that traditional Chinese medicine is beneficial for anxiety, or that the spleen plays a role in the functions that Chinese medicine believes, millions of people depend on this type of treatment for their affected spleen with positive results. It may be something worth attempting if you're interested in using some type of alternative therapy.