In traditional Asian medicine there are several herbs and techniques used to support the spleen. The spleen is part of the lymphatic system, which constantly renews our cells and disposes of toxins. Unless badly damaged, the spleen will work to repair itself if given support and the opportunity to work. In thinking about cleansing the spleen, we want to think first of how to make the spleen’s job of self-repair easier, and then how to directly cleanse the spleen through traditional herbs and healthful behavior.
Supporting the Spleen
The most important step you can take to encourage a healthy spleen is adopting a healthful diet. By avoiding foods that cause the spleen to work, you free the spleen to work on self-repair and cleansing. Whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables require very little from the lymphatic system. By sticking to a diet of these healthful, unprocessed ingredients, you allow your spleen the time and energy it requires to purge itself. In general, avoid foods that are highly processed and difficult to break down, including processed sugars, red meat, and white flour products like white bread and white pasta. Fast foods and high-sugar foods of any kind are extremely taxing to the spleen and should not be eaten during a process of spleen cleansing.
Be sure to drink plenty of water during any cleansing process. Six-to-eight cups of water per day is recommended. Also, the acids present in fruit juices are helpful in cleansing the lymphatic system. Cranberry juice—pure cranberry juice, not the more commonly sold cranberry juice cocktails that contain large amounts of processed sugar—mixed with water is especially effective during a spleen cleanse.
Echinacea is closely associated with the spleen in traditional Asian medicine. It is also linked to general-purpose immune- system support. Astragalus has been used by the Chinese to support the spleen for centuries. Wild indigo root encourages lymphatic flow and cleanses the lymph of damaging microbes, which will lead to spleen cleansing. These herbs are often distributed in pill form or, if purchased raw, can be made into teas and tinctures. As with any medicine, take care to always follow the recommended dosages—even herbal remedies can be dangerous if taken in excess.
The lymphatic system bathes the cells of the body in a fluid called lymph, carrying away bacteria and toxic-waste products. Along with a healthful diet, supportive herbs, and plenty of fluids, the best way to support this system is regular physical activity. Blood flow to extremities and elevated heart rate will encourage the flow of lymph, making the spleen’s job easier and allowing it to reach a healthful balance. Get your heart rate up and breathe deeply.