Spleen Qi and Me

In my previous post, I outlined my plan for changing my lifestyle, according mostly to the standards set in Dr. Randine Lewis’ The Infertility Cure.  I’m still researching the many different facets of this new lifestyle, and have realized that I will be constantly tweaking things to make it work for me, but I’m ready to give some further details on what will probably become my focus, at least for the rest of 2013.

For now, because it’s the biggest part of what I’m doing, I will let you in on the dietary changes I’m making.

The Spleen Qi Diet

Based on the questionnaire in Dr. Lewis’ book, a little of my own research, and the “diagnosis” given to me by my acupuncturist back in February, my main ailments in the Eastern world are a deficiency of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang.  I also apparently have some small involvement from Liver, Blood Stasis, and Cold Uterus.  These Eastern diagnoses are related closely with Western diagnoses as well, and Dr. Lewis’ previous life as an RE helps her to be able to tie the two together for people like me who need a little science with their voodoo.  🙂

Some of the symptoms outlined in the book that pointed me toward these diagnoses were not things I would have thought had anything to do with my reproductive capacity.  Things like “Are you always colder than others around you?”, “Are your feet cold at night?”, and “Do you typically have low blood pressure?” were part of the questionnaire.  There were also myriad other questions about my digestion and the appearance of my tongue.  Strange, but the inquiries led me in the right direction, toward an apparent problem with my Spleen Qi (pronounced “chee”) and Kidney Yang.

Now, that’s not to say that there is anything physically wrong with these body parts of mine in the Western-medicine sense, but according to Eastern philosophies, certain deficiencies in the body can cause all other systems to derail.  “Nourish the soil to grow the tree” or something like that.

If you think about it that way, it makes a lot of sense.  If your whole body is not running optimally, then a lack of energy or blood flow in one area could be pulling energy from another area.  Since reproduction is not a vital process for survival, the body can pull energy away from the reproductive system to keep the other systems functional.

According to my Eastern diagnoses, I need to alter my diet to help battle the Cold and Damp caused by deficiencies of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang.

Sooo… what in the world does that mean?

Basically it means that I need to avoid certain foods and dietary habits that may be inhibiting my body from doing what it wants, and needs to do.

Apparently certain foods encourage Cold and Damp.  Sugar and dairy, for instance, encourage Dampness.  Certain foods and drinks, like salad and iced beverages, encourage Cold (um… duh.).

So what do we do?  According to the Chinese philosophies, “What is cold, heat.  What is dry, water.  What is damp, dry.  What is hot, cool.”

Pretty to the point, those ancient Chinese physicians, eh?  If you’re making a big pot of soup, you don’t want to slow down the cooking process by throwing an ice cold smoothie in there, I guess.  Metaphors are fun.

For me, this means that I’m avoiding cold drinks and salads, citrus fruits and tomatoes, dairy and sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fried or greasy foods, and raw foods.  One other food I’m starting to leave out of my diet is gluten.  It’s going well so far, but I know that it will get complicated from time to time.  It’s a lot of pressure to even say “gluten-free”, so I’m just taking that part one day at a time.

I’m drinking a lot of tea – not that it’s much of a change from before, just different types of tea and herbal blends – and that is supposed to “warm” my system, which helps with digestion and blood flow.

I am loving this Good Earth cinnamon tea; it’s caffeine free, and is naturally a little sweet.  It tastes like drinking Big Red!  I’m also testing out this Traditional Medicinals ginger tea… Hoo-boy!  Ginger is STRONG.  I like the way the tea feels after I drink it, but getting it down tastes like drinking chemicals and pepper.  I might only have that one occasionally.  Cinnamon and ginger (along with nutmeg, cardamom, and clove) are “warming” dietary inclusions, so I try to cook with them when possible as well.

I also get to include lots of foods that I love in my diet.  I’ve been able to eat more root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips, and I can have grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

Last night, I made polenta for the first time!  Not bad!

Proteins are encouraged, but in small amounts, and always organic if possible; the hormones used in most meats is one of the bigger reasons for hormonal imbalance today.  One thing I’m excited to start cooking with is lamb.

Many fruits are discouraged because they’re either “cooling” dietary items, or because of the high sugar content; I love bananas, but they are out for now.  I can still have yummies like peaches, cherries, and other berries, though it’s better to have cooked fruit than raw fruit for digestive purposes.

There’s a lot to this diet, and if you want to read a more comprehensive list, there are good ones here and here.  The biggest thing with the Eastern philosophy is to not let a lifestyle change so dramatically affect your day-to-day that it causes you stress.  These changes need to be implemented for at least three to four months to see a real difference, so it’s important that you ease yourself into these changes, and not get stressed out because of them.

Stress, in Chinese medicine, is actually a physical ailment.  It can, and does, have an impact on many systems in your body, and there are many, many different ways to battle stress from the Eastern perspective, including acupuncture, massage, acupressure, and breathing techniques, just to name a few.

While I’m making these changes, I’m also trying not to be too hard on myself.  Last weekend, I had a few adult beverages.  Yes, alcohol is a no-no, but hey – they were gluten free!  At lunch today, I ordered hot tea, but all they had available was caffeinated; I drank it anyway because, hey – I’m warmin’ up my uterus, y’all!

Ya win some, ya lose some, right?  One tiny dietary misstep isn’t going to derail the whole train.

So there.  The long, detailed dietary plan that’s just one piece of getting my “soil” nourished so that my “tree” can grow.

Or whatever.

It might sound like voodoo, but if it helps me feel better overall, and possibly gets me pregnant, then I will do it.  I already like a lot of what I’m doing, like drinking warm beverages and eating warm foods; I don’t know if you know this, but I shiver like a chihuahua in rooms where most people are comfortable with the temperature.  Maybe in time, I’ll notice even bigger changes…

I’ll get into specifics on the rest of what I’m doing soon, but until then –

Namaste, dudes and dudettes.

May the Spleen Qi be with you.

Spleens are cute! Who knew, right?

11 comments on “Spleen Qi and Me

  1. InLimbo
    August 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    I’ve also read this book and made some changes based on it. The acupuncture has by far had the biggest effect on me, but I’m curious to see how it goes for you! It seems we are both in the process of implementing new lifestyle choices to optimize fertility – good luck to you!


  2. Theresa
    August 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    That all sounds super interesting! The cinnamon tea sounds delicious!


  3. Poodle
    August 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    My acupuncturist told me the same thing about the cold, he said your body is an incubator when pregnant so it needs to be warm. He also said to ensure to dry your hair with a hair dryer after a shower, never leave the house with wet hair and try and keep your hands warm all the time. Good luck!!


  4. Heather
    August 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Hi there, congrats on your award I just wanted to connect! Have you read Angela Wu’s Fertility Wisdom she also believes in all this stuff. Funnily enough I didn’t get preg when I stuck to her diet, it was more when I had a competent fertility specialist that I had results. But I still credit the acupuncture. Wishing you all the best!


  5. M Girl
    September 24, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    Hi. I felt like I was reading about myself!! I too am getting my ‘soil ready for planting’ using TCM. I have kidney Yang deficiency and spleen Qi issues. Keep us posted on your progress. So far the only thing I am really missing is my morning cafe latte.. But hopefully all the changes will be worth it 🙂


  6. Megan
    November 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi there!
    I just found your blog and I am on the same kind of journey. We’ve tried all the invasive western treatments for 2 1/2 years now and I am so done. I recently started seeing an herbalist and read Randine Lewis’s book. I’ve made all the same dietary changes that you’ve made too. It’s nice to know there is someone out there on the same journey and that doesn’t think all of this stuff sounds crazy! I’ve been taking herbs for 3 weeks and it’s making a huge difference already!
    Thanks for your blog and good luck 🙂


  7. Ysant
    May 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    So today I went to see an accupunturist. I fell in love with her absolutely! But she says I have a spleen qi deficiency. She went on explaining a lot which I at that time wasn’t understanding. My ? Is she believes she can help me along with my dietary changes. I would be on a 2xwkly visits for a total of $3700.00. Wow that seems like a lot. I believe her she truly seems like an honest person. But is this something I can do myself or do I really need to go into more debt. By the way My first ivf resulted in bfp. But after that I have 6 fresh cycles and 5 fet. All failed. TIA and have a wonderful day!


  8. Tara
    March 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Wow. This sounds exactly like me! I’ve been doing acupuncture for the last 2 weeks and although I do not completely conform to the dietary guidelines for Spllen Qi Deficiency, I have noticed that my feet are warmer at night.
    My Acupuncturist has high reviews and success rates, so I am hopeful that they will help ease my worries, stress and ultimately have success in becoming a mother.
    I am on the IUI track (male issues) and am combining western and eastern medicine. What a stress!


  9. Katheryn
    April 30, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    I too can relate to pretty much everything you mentioned in your blog. I am wondering if you have had any success yet? I am working on changing my diet and have been going to acupuncture for about 7 months
    now. I am afraid of trying the more invasive procedures mainly because of the cost so I thought I would try the more natural route first. I am still trying to figure out what is going on with my body and how to regulate it. Thanks for the insights and encouragement. Hope all is going well for you!!


  10. laura
    July 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Hi there I have a couple of questions.

    If a food is classed as a cold food, if it is cooked and served warm does that help make it warmer?

    I am having ivf and following this food concept but not 100%. I am cooking most foods and following the warming food list and restricting the cold food list. If I had a salad how would that effect my blood? does it cause a massive negative? would a ginger tea help the blood go back up? The weather is really hot so i am craving colder things so what I really want to know if i have something cold how much damage does it do if everything else i am having is warming and cooked? Hope my questions make sense.

    Thank you x


  11. Sarah
    November 8, 2015 at 4:25 am #

    I was glad to come across this. I just discovered my qi deficiency and was looking for recipes for my diet/life change. Thanks!


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