DONGUIBOGAM; Internal Bodily Elements 19. Spleen 脾臟 비(2)-Treatment Methods for Spleen Disease

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△ ‘Diagram of the Viscera and Bowls of the Body’, 1613, the first edition of the Dongui Bogam (Courtesy of the National Library of Korea)

10 Treatment Methods for Spleen Disease 脾病治法 비병 치료법

① The spleen dislikes dampness. Bitter taste should be used to dry the dampness. The spleen tends to become loose. Sweet taste should be used to relieve this.
② The spleen disliking dampness is an excess of spleen qi. Atractylodis Rhizoma Alba (白朮) should be used. The spleen becoming loose means that spleen qi is deficient. Glycyrrhizae Radix (甘草) should be used. The spleen is tonified by a sweet taste, so use Ginseng Radix (人參). The spleen is purged by a bitter taste like Coptidis Rhizoma (黃連).
③ Tonify a spleen deficiency by Glycyrrhizae Radix (甘草) and Zizyphi Fructus (大棗). Purge a spleen excess by Ponciri Fructus Immaturus (枳實).
④ Prescribe Beneficial Astragalus and Coptis Powder or Tonify Spleen Decoction for spleen deficiency and Purge Yellow Powder or Regulate Stomach and Coordinate Qi Decoction (調胃承氣湯) (The formula is written in the chapter Cold.) For spleen excess.
⑤ Take salty food when the spleen is diseased. Beans, porks, chestnuts, and bean leaves all have a salty taste. (This means taking tastes that the spleen can prevail).
⑥ Take nonglutinous rice, beef, dates, and curled mallow for the spleen disease. (This refers to taking the original tastes).
⑦ Avoid warm food, overeating, staying in the damp place, and wearing damp clothes when the spleen is diseased.

  • Beneficial Astragalus and Coptis Powder 益黃散 익황산: It treats abdominal pain and diarrhea due to coldness and deficiency of the spleen. 1 nyang of Citrus Unshius Pericarpium (陳皮), 5 don of Citri Unshius Pericarpium Immaturus (靑皮), Terminaliae Fructus (訶子肉), and Glycyrrhizae Radix (甘草) (roasted), and 2 don of Syzygii Flos (丁香). Grind and boil 2 or 3 don with water. Or cut these herbs and make 5 don of these drugs as 1 package. This is also called Tonify the Spleen Powder.
  • Tonify Spleen Decoction 補脾湯 보비탕: It treats nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion due to deficiency and coldness of the spleen. 1.5 nyang of Hordei Vulgaris Fructus (麥芽) (stir-fried), Glycyrrhizae Radix (甘草) (roasted), 1nyang of Ginseng Radix (人參), Poria Sclerotium (白茯苓), Amomi Tsao-ko Fructus (草果), Zingiberis Rhizoma Crudus (乾薑) (covered with damp paper and roasted), 7.5 don of Magnoliae Cortex (厚朴), Citrus Unshius Pericarpium (陳皮), and Atractylodis Rhizoma Alba (白朮). Cut these herbs and boil 5 don at a time with water.
  • Purge Yellow Powder 瀉黃散 사황산: This is also called Purge Spleen Powder (瀉脾散). It treats aphtha and bad breath due to spleen heat. 1.5 don of Gardeniae Fructus (梔子), 1 don of Agastachis Herba (藿香) and Glycyrrhizae Radix (甘草), 8 pun of Gypsum Fibrosum (石膏) and 6 pun of Saposhnikoviae Radix (防風). Grind these to make 1 package. Stir-fry with honey and alcohol before decocting in water.

11 Signs of Exhaustion of Spleen Qi 脾絶候 비기가 끊어지려는 징후

① When foot greater yin qi is exhausted, the meridian cannot nurture muscle and flesh. The lips and tongue are the origins of muscle and flesh. When the meridian does not provide nutrients, muscle and flesh weaken. When muscle and flesh become weak, the tongue shrinks and the philtrum becomes swollen. When the philtrum becomes swollen, the lips turn inside out, which means that muscle and flesh have died. The symptom gets worse on Gap day and the person dies on Eul day.
② When qi of the greater yin meridian is exhausted, there will be abdominal distention, dyspnea, belching, and nausea.
Frequent nausea will lead to reversal cold of the extremities. This will make the person’s face flushed. If it does not become reversal cold of the extremities, the upper and lower parts of the body will not correspond to each other, and this will blacken the person’s face and dry the skin and hair. The person will eventually die.
③ If spleen qi is exhausted, the person will die in 12 days (or 5 days). How do we know? We know by observing the mouth becoming cold, legs swelling, abdomen distending with heat, and frequent diarrhea spontaneously coming out.
④ Blackened skin around the the lips, sweating, and jaundice all indicate that spleen qi is exhausted.

12 Cultivation and Nurturing of the Spleen 脾臟修養法 비장의 수양법

Sit up straight in the center of the yard and hold the breath for 5 breathing times and exercise sounding the celestial drum 12 times at dawn every first day of June and 18 days before the end of the four seasons. Inhale yellow qi of the southwest 12 times and hold one’s breath for the time of 50 breaths.

13 Guiding-pulling Exercises for the Spleen 脾臟導引法 비장의 도인법

Sit with legs stretched. Bend one leg. Bring two hands behind and pull for 3~5 times. Also, sit in the kneeling position with both hands touching the ground. Turn your head and look as if like a tiger. Repeat 3~5 times. This can remove stagnation within the abdomen and the wind pathogen. The person will also be able to eat better.

14 Simple Prescriptions 單方 단방

There are 24 kinds in total.

  • Realgar 雄黃: ① It helps the spleen. ② Realgar emulates soil. Its color is yellow and it enters the spleen. Levigate before use.
  • Atractylodis Rhizoma Alba 蒼朮: ① It strengthens the spleen and dries dampness. Soak this in rice-washed water for one night, cut, and dry. Ground or decocted forms are both good. ② Soak Atractylodis Rhizoma in rice-washed water and grind. Mix this with Massa Medicata Fermentata to make Mountain Spirit Pills.
  • Atractylodis Rhizoma Alba 白朮: It tonifies the spleen. Refer to Atractylodis Rhizoma for how to take this herb.
  • Cimicifugae Rhizoma 升麻: The spleen impediment cannot be removed without this. Cut and boil in water.
  • Amomi Fructus 縮砂: It warms the spleen and stomach. Ground or decocted forms are both good.
  • Agastachis Herba 藿香: It assists the spleen and warms it. Ground or decocted forms are both good.
  • Syzygii Flos 丁香: It warms the spleen. It treats unharmonious qi due to a cold spleen. Decocted or ground forms are both good.
  • Tetrapanacis Medulla 通草: It treats somnolence due to spleen jaundice. Decoct in water to take.
  • Magnoliae Cortex 厚朴: It warms the spleen to circulate spleen qi well. Decoct in water to take.
  • Citrus Unshius Pericarpium 橘皮: It is commonly used for digestion problems due to the spleen. Ground or decocted forms are both good.
  • Zizyphi Fructus 大棗: It nurtures the spleen qi and comforts the stomach. Take the decocted form. Also, boiled flesh of a date harmonizes the spleen and stomach. It is better to take in the form of a pill.
  • Dried Persimmon 乾柿: It strengthens spleen qi. Decoct this with honey and condensed milk. It treats digestion and food intake problems due to a spleen deficiency.
  • Saccharum Granorum 飴糖: It strengthens the spleen. It is also known as black taffy. Taking this all the time is beneficial.
  • Panicis Semen 稷米: This grain belongs to the spleen. It is beneficial to take this all the time.
  • Setariae Semen 粟米: It tonifies the spleen. Make gruel and eat all the time. All kinds of Panicum miliaceum have similar effects.
  • Arida Oryza Distillata 陳倉米: It warms the spleen. It should be decocted before taking.
  • Waxy rice 糯米: Its taste is sweet. It belongs to the spleen. Take this for a spleen disease. Decoct to take.
  • Hordei Fructus Germinatus 大麥芽: It tonifies the spleen and digests food. Ground or decocted forms are both good.
  • Massa Medicata Fermentata 神麴: It strengthens the spleen and digests food. Ground or decocted forms are both good.
  • Honey 蜜: It nurtures spleen qi. It is the best formula among the ones that harmonize the spleen. Taking this with gruel all the time is beneficial.
  • Bovis Calculus 牛肉: It nurtures spleen qi. The stomach of the cow is even better. Decoct for a long time before taking.
  • Carassius auratus 鯽魚: It tonifies the spleen. Since this fish eats mud, it has ability to tonify the spleen. Decoct and make into a soup or eat in the raw state. Both methods are good.
  • Mugil cephalus Linnaeus 鯔魚: It tonifies the spleen. This fish also eats mud, so it has the same effect as the carp.
  • Mallow 葵: It fills spleen qi. Make into a soup or season with salt and eat. Both methods are good.