I’ve been doing some research on building the immune system this week. As cold and flu season approaches, it seems to be on everyone’s mind.
Of course, there are many foods, supplements, and essential oils that build immunity but I wanted to dig a bit deeper.
The spleen is an intriguing organ. It’s intriguing because, in Western cultures (like ours) the spleen is regarded as a surplus organ, something we can live quite nicely without. In Eastern cultures, the spleen is revered. It’s seen as the most important organ to the functioning of the body’s immune system.
Why the difference? I’m afraid that question won’t be answered here. It’s a mystery to me that we seem to think that the creator (whomever you believe that to be) gave us all extra parts. You know, things like ovaries, spleens, appendix, gall bladders…… but that’s a story for another blog post.
The spleen functions as a filter for the blood. It’s responsible for “recycling” red blood cells and for storing white blood cells, among other things. It’s important to the lymphatic system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen is the organ of worry. Interesting.
The spleen brings warmth and vitality to the body and responds best to warm foods and drinks. Foods like soups and stews, root vegetables, beans and legumes, and warming spices are all beneficial for the health of the spleen.
Pungent foods that support the spleen, and therefore the immune system are local garlic, onions, and fennel.
Fall is the perfect time of year to give your spleen some love, what with comfort foods on the menu and fresh, local garlic in great supply.
Eating lots of protein and very little dairy is beneficial for the spleen. Small amounts of food, more often is easier for the spleen to process.
Western societies are known for being “Spleen deficient cultures.”
If you’re wondering about the health of your own spleen, and therefore your immune system, here are some signs that it may be in need of support:
- Easily bruised
- Loose stools
- Sluggish digestion resulting in constipation
- Pale lips
- Low energy levels
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Feeling cold all the time
- Varicose veins
- Loss of taste
- A need to frequently clear the throat
- Excess mucus or congestion
- Hard time concentrating
That’s a big list!! There are other causes for most of the ailments listed above, of course. These are some things to be aware of though, if you’re concerned about your immune function. Now’s the perfect time to get your immune system functioning at top notch!
Some steps that you can take to build your immunity:
- Eat fresh, local, garlic daily
- Take a good quality probiotic (ask me for a recommendation)
- Fennel essential oil is a blood purifier. It can be used in a tea (doTERRA brand only) or rubbed over the spleen/liver area
- Eat a variety of nuts and seeds
- Add sea vegetables to your diet (kelp, Spirulina)
- Reduce sugar, alcohol, caffeine in your diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Clove, Rosemary, Thyme, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Ginger, and Peppermint essential oils are supportive of the spleen
- Lemon essential oil can be used in lymphatic massage to boost blood flow
- Dry skin brushing (always towards the heart) is beneficial to the immune system
- Geranium essential oil clears negative energy and may be diffused in times of worry
The spleen really is a fascinating organ. Supporting it will go a long way towards building your immune system as cold and flu season approaches. I’d bet on that, over a flu shot, any day!