Vanessa* was an athletic woman in her early 30’s who came to my clinic with a history of frequent miscarriages. She was able to get pregnant, and had done so three or four times, but each pregnancy ended with a miscarriage sometime during the first trimester.
Vanessa was soft spoken and committed to doing whatever it took to have a baby. She had a history of an eating disorder, mild depression, and low energy. Vanessa assured me, however, that she was eating well, and was trying unsuccessfully to gain weight. Vanessa had a Chinese medical diagnosis of sinking Spleen Qi (energy).
In Western medicine, your internal organs are considered solid entities that have physiologic functions and live in a specific place in your body. However, in Chinese medicine, your organs are considered symbolic systems of functioning, and are related to many physical, emotional, and energetic processes in your body.
The job of the Chinese Spleen is to convert the food you eat into energy, blood, and nutrients. However, one of the Spleen’s secondary functions is to hold things in and hold things up. Symptoms that the holding function of the Spleen is not up to par may include easy bruising, chronic diarrhea, prolapsed (sinking) organs, and a history of frequent miscarriages. Frequently, these symptoms are accompanied by fatigue, mental depression, and a sense of heaviness or bearing downward.
There are a number of tools an acupuncturist could use in treating sinking Qi. First, they would perform acupuncture, choosing specific acupuncture points that strengthen your Spleen and move energy upward. Second, they might prescribe a variety of herbs that also have the action of moving things upward. The formula, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is frequently used for that purpose, as it strengthens your Spleen to improve its holding function. Finally, through dietary therapy it is possible to strengthen your digestion, and ultimately your Spleen. Your practitioner can help you choose foods that are best for that purpose and which foods to avoid.
In Vanessa’s case, her Spleen and digestion had been damaged by her past eating disorder. Along with acupuncture, we worked on choosing foods that she could easily digest and concentrated on gaining some weight. In addition, Vanessa took an herbal formula to strengthen the holding function of her Spleen. In short order, Vanessa became pregnant. At that time, we concentrated solely on strengthening her ability to hold the fetus to avoid another miscarriage.
Vanessa made it through the first trimester of her pregnancy without miscarrying. At that point, we began to decrease the frequency of her treatments. Vanessa ultimately had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to an equally healthy baby girl.
*Names and identifying details have been changed.