February 16th, 2018 was the start of the Chinese Year of the Yellow Dog. From a Chinese medical perspective, the colour Yellow relates to Earth, and the organs that relate to Earth are the stomach and spleen.
Mother Earth has a very important role in gathering and absorbing all that falls on its soil and transforms it into nutrients.
In Chinese medicine the stomach and spleen have a role, much like Mother Earth, taking in the external, assimilating it so that it becomes part of itself, to feed life.
When the stomach is strong it is able to take in and process food and on a much deeper level thoughts, ideas and feelings. The spleen “is the servant” (1) of our energy. It gathers and collects what the other organs need and distributes it throughout the body.
The Earth ( stomach and spleen) have an important role in producing blood. The blood carries everything we need to grow and heal. Blood contains oxygen, nutrients absorbed from food, immune substances, hormones, anti-inflammatories and analgesics to help elevate pain.
When the Earth (stomach and spleen) is in distress it may not be able to digest food.
It may get stomach cramps, bloating or reflux. It may produce an excessive amount of phlegm which may block sinuses or certain parts of the body may swell such as the ankles.
Some medical conditions related to a weak Earth (stomach and spleen) may include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and pre-Diabetes, diarrhoea and constipation and rumbling of the intestines.
Chinese medicine can support a distressed Earth (stomach and spleen) using acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Proactive ways to support the Earth (stomach and spleen) is to eat earlier in the day as the stomach and spleen are at their strongest between 7-11am. Also, eat regular small meals to avoid over-eating and limit sugar intake.
It is best to eat fresh, organic fruits, root vegetables, grass fed beef, butter, organic milk and unprocessed foods in your diet. When cooking slow-cooked foods like soups, casseroles, roast meals and home-made food. For a good healthy gut it is good to have a well-balanced diet where you have a small, but varied amount of everything.
Another part of keeping the stomach and spleen strong is not to over-think. Ruminating and mulling other things is a sign of an inability to digest and process information.
Overthinking weakens the stomach and spleen.
Exercises that can particularly support the spleen and calm your mind are walking and talking with a friend, doing yoga or tai-chi, dancing, skipping, bouncing and shaking, rebound trampolining.
Exercise helps circulate lymph and blood through the body. Good circulation of lymph and blood keeps our body nourished and strong.
(1). The Handbook of the Five Element Practice by Nora Franglen Pg.36 (2014)