If a Spleen-Pancreas deficiency is allowed to worsen, it can degenerate to what is called “Deficiency of digestive fire”. Whenever Fire- the Yang, warming principle, is lacking, such an imbalance has all the symptoms of Spleen Qi deficiency together with signs of cold digestion that clearly distinguish it. These include loose stools to watery stools, possibly containing undigested food. Further signs of coldness are: aversion to cold, cold limbs and weakness of the limbs due to the failure of Spleen-Yang to warm the body, clear urine, pale complexion, abdominal distension after eating which becomes more pronounced as the condition worsens, easily tired, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, Abdominal pain that can be sharp at times, Pale and wet tongue and possibly edema.
Causes of Spleen Yang Deficiency
The cause of this pattern is substantially the same as for spleen Qi deficiency, the only difference being that this pattern is more likely to be caused by exposure to a cold and damp environment.
Yang becomes deficient through inactivity, as it is the moving and warming force in the body, through habitual intake of cold foods and drinks, through frequent exposure to cold weather, and through weak constitution. Yang deficiency is also connected to emotional patterns such as depression and apathy, considered in some cases in Chinese medicine as an imbalance of the fire element in the body.
This pattern is the same as Spleen-Qi Deficiency with the addition of Cold symptoms, such as a feeling of cold and cold limbs due to the failure of Spleen-Yang to warm the body. The edema is due to the impairment of the Spleen’s function in transforming and transporting fluids; when fluids cannot be transformed, they may accumulate under the skin giving rise to edema. Spleen-Yang Deficiency is common with the formation of Internal Dampness, Phlegm or both. Without warming Yang tonic herbs or Moxa therapy, Cold is very difficult to alleviate.
Feeling cold, cold limbs
Abdominal distension after eating which becomes more pronounced as the condition worsens
Weakness of the limbs
Loss of appetite
Loose stools to watery stools, nausea and vomiting
Abdominal pain that can be sharp at times
Pale tongue with a white coating
If the “digestive fire” is deficient and together with the digestion symptoms cold symptoms are experienced, follow the deficient spleen Qi recommendations (with the exception of sweet rice, which is contraindicated in digestive fire deficiency, since it is rather dense and will need more fire to digest). In addition, emphasize more warming herbs and foods. Such are garlic and all members of the onion family, preferably cooked not to irritate the stomach, warming spices like dried ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, fennel, horseradish and black pepper.
It is important to consume small amounts of well cooked meat. Chicken is warm in nature and easy to digest. Well-cooked soft chicken meat, for example chicken soup, will not weigh down the spleen’s work. Fish is lighter than poultry or meat and is good source of protein which is not heavy on the spleen. It is easy to digest and strengthen Qi, blood and yang. Cold water fish are preferable choice because they are warmer in nature. Salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, herring, anchovies and shellfish are good choices. The fish should be consumed well cooked.
It is imperative to avoid cold and raw foods and drinks, as they will furthermore extinguish the digestive fire.
Avoid excessive caffeine intake. Although stimulants like Caffeine creates movement and inserts warmth to the body, causes energized and light feeling once consumed, it tends to exhaust the body’s ability to generate Yang when regularly consumed.
Movement increases yang in the body. Therefore it will be difficult to get the Yang moving without moving the body. Gentle exercise on a regular basis is very important.
Keep your body warm and covered and avoid prolonged exposure to cold weather.