In previous a previous post, we looked at the role of blood sugar imbalances on the thyroid and the thyroid axis. The endocrine gland that is in control of sugar balance in the body is, of course, the pancreas.
The pancreas is part of the Earth Element in Chinese Medicine. In this post, which is an excerpt from my book, Roadmap to Remission, we explore some of the important concepts related to the Earth Element and how they affect the thyroid axis.
Okay, so now let’s take a look at the Earth Element and its sphere of influence. As I said, the yin organ is the spleen, and the yang organ is the stomach.
The endocrine gland associated with the Earth Element is the pancreas. In fact, a lot of what the ancient Chinese ascribed to the spleen sounds, in my opinion, very much like the pancreas.
The other parts of the system that represent the Earth Element are the mouth, saliva, flesh, or muscles. It governs the sense of taste.
The spleen governs digestion and keeps the blood circulating. We know that it is also responsible for cleaning old and dead red blood cells from the bloodstream. It also stores platelets that aid in clotting and coagulation.
The ancient Chinese recognized the spleen as an important organ for immune function. We know now that it also stores monocytes—the Pacman white blood cells—and that B and T cells are made and mature in the spleen.
Remember in the last chapter when we spoke about certain immune cells producing TSH? Well, some of those cells come from the spleen.
The sense organ associated with the spleen is the mouth and health issues involving the spleen sometimes manifest on the lips and the corners of the mouth.
The negative emotion of the spleen is worry or obsessive thinking, and the energy or vitality of the Earth Element is intent.
This energy is linked with mental and physical activity of the body. Lack of desire or difficulty with coordination and movement of the body may reveal an issue with intent and, therefore, the spleen.
This difficulty with coordination is a problem with moving and articulating the limbs, and it is associated with poor utilization of nutrients by the muscles.
What are they talking about? It could be insulin utilization—the state of insulin resistance that we spoke about in the last chapter.
Almost all cells in the body have insulin receptors. So intent involves a major mental component and is also under the influence of insulin, but not always for the purpose of just utilizing glucose. Insulin can also help with the uptake of certain amino acids.
One interesting example of this relationship involves serotonin.
The brain’s ability to absorb serotonin is enhanced by insulin. If you become insulin resistant, what happens emotionally? You lose this intent, you become depressed, and you crave carbs to try and make you feel better.
Do you see how this is all connected? These are examples of spheres of influence.
In a spiritual sense, this intent affects the digestive functions of thought that allows for the processing and assimilation of our life experiences in a nourishing way.
Unbalanced function leads to brooding, worry, and excessive thought patterns, such as obsessive compulsive disorders. People who think obsessively can become stuck in a pattern of thinking for thinking’s sake alone, and they don’t get nourished by their experiences, because they can’t move on.
One of the health issues that is problematic for the spleen is dampness. Internally, this can take the form of phlegm. Phlegm is made in the spleen and then sent up to the lung.
Metaphorically, dampness is an accumulation of everything that should be nourishing, but instead has become a burden. In a psychological sense, it manifests as lethargy, boredom, mental sluggishness, obsessive thinking, and brooding.
On a physical level, phlegm dampness accumulates in the spleen, stomach, lungs, and large intestines. Sweetness is the flavor of the Earth Element. We’ve seen the problems excess sugar can cause.
Well, from a spiritual/psychological standpoint, this phlegm dampness represents the excessive need to give or receive sympathy. Therefore, it’s spiritual phlegm. It is giving too much and not taking care of yourself or demanding too much so that it becomes a burden to others.
That’s the beauty of Chinese Medicine. It looks at the connection between things, mind, body and spirit are not separate. They all influence one another.
So now, not only is it my profession, it’s my passion, and it’s personal. I’ve been joking with people lately saying it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I really get it, and a curse because I really got it! ?