My Plan: Heal my Spleen Energy with Lacto Fermented Foods

This particular article requires a bit of basic knowledge about acupuncture theory. Allow me to offer the briefest explanation behind the theories that I will be writing about. The Spleen is the organ in acupuncture theory that is most prominently featured in digestion. There is some talk that perhaps there was a mistranslation in the ancient Chinese and that we should be talking about the pancreas. Some practitioners use the term “spleen/pancreas” when they talk about this particular organ. In general, many of the spleen’s functions in acupuncture theory relate to the functions of that we attribute to the pancreas in the west.

I have always been some energy deficient in my spleen. I have most symptoms. Frequently with tongue diagnosis, my tongue so clearly showed my spleen pathology I was used as an example. I have worked hard to keep my spleen on an even keel. I struggle though. In today’s world, all those things that are easy and quick to eat are not very good for the spleen.

A few years ago, before I met my husband, I went on the South Beach Diet. As it happened, that same summer I was really into sushi and Thai food, particularly red curry, made from coconut milk. While I went out to a very good sushi place not far from my home, I made the curry at home. I lost weight easily, my symptoms slowly faded and I felt better than I had in a long time. I thought it was wonderful. Even my tongue and pulses showed an energetic change.

I went back on the South Beach Diet this year to loose some weight. I struggled. One big difference was that I was eating a lot of processed foods that claimed to be low carb. I wasn’t eating curry. I was eating some sushi but less of it (after all rice is a carb). I still had cravings and couldn’t figure out what was different.

Life pushed me back into the path of the Weston A Price Foundation. I had heard about them and was familiar with the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon from years ago. However, I always felt that I could never find the time to cook that much. This time I was at my wits end. I decided to make a change. My husband is not 100% behind this, but he does like the home cook foods. He doesn’t ask what’s in them and I don’t tell unless he asks. I added in coconut oil. I already drank kombucha and now it became a staple. I started making my lacto fermented foods. I am working on learning to make sourdough bread but for now I am avoiding grains as much as possible. Sometimes I slip up. On occasion I allow myself some oatmeal that has been soaked overnight.

I have noticed that once again I am loosing weight (with less effort). My deficiency symptoms are mostly gone. They flare up the minute I eat some sort of processed grain item though, so I need to watch what I eat. My tongue is even starting to look less spleen energy deficient as well.

Dietary therapy is a big part of the Chinese Medical Therapy that I learned. In fact, the herbal formulas were often used in soups and stews as well as in teas. In today’s world, sometimes I do make dietary recommendations. However any benefit my patients get has usually been pretty minimal. This was true of me as well. I am rethinking this. I don’t think we’ve been making the wrong recommendations. I think that we are so accustomed to the processing that when we recommend something we don’t even think about the high heat it may have passed through or the long distances it may have traveled, thus changing or negating the energetic signature it may have had thousands of years ago.

I’ll be eating my way through the dietary guidelines of the ancients but this time I’ll be making sure that I eat locally grown raw or fermented foods when appropriate. I’ll use sprouted grains if I use any therapeutic grains (and perhaps fermented, as in sourdough). I’ll also consider the length of travel time. If I am recommending it for therapeutic consumption, I’ll also be talking about making it at home where temperatures can be monitored in the cooking process.

I’ve found this whole correlation so fascinating, I am hoping to see if the bodies of my patients respond as profoundly as my body has responded to the changes I have seen.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade


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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

One thought on “My Plan: Heal my Spleen Energy with Lacto Fermented Foods”

  1. Mommy doesn’t know anything about spleens, but she is curious about lacto-fermented foods. She has not tried to do anything with these though as they seem really complicated. She is glad that weight loss is becoming easier for you. She and Daddy have been very successful this year weight loss-wise mostly following Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint (which includes a lot of the same ideas that you have mentioned). They have lost a combined 84 pounds so far.


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