According to traditional Eastern medicine, each of the Five Elements has its own Yin aspects and Yang aspects. In our bodies, the Yin aspects of the Five Elements are embodied in five Yin organs, which are the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. As for the Yang aspects of the Five Elements, they are embodied in six Yang organs, which are the gall bladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, urinary bladder, and San Jiao (or Samcho in Korean).
According to traditional Eastern medicine, the five Yin organs are largely responsible for our bodily functions. Yin organs are situated deeper inside the body, manufacturing, regulating, and conserving vital substances. They are more closely related to the Five Elements and thus more susceptible to the imbalance of a particular element that is assigned to them. Conversely, problems in any of these organs could offset the general imbalance of an element associated with the organ.
Spleen – Yin organ of Earth
The spleen is the Yin organ of the Earth Element. The spleen, paired with the stomach, nourishes the body, thus embodying key traits of the Earth Element. While modern medicine tends to trivialize the role of the spleen, traditional Eastern medicine considers it to be the center of the body and an essential organ for digestion.
The spleen absorbs the nutrients that it receives from the stomach and supplies them to other parts of the body. Not unlike the earth itself, the spleen constantly provides nourishment and thereby maintains the organism. Since the spleen plays a nourishing role in the body, problems in the spleen are indicated by a lack of energy, weakness, digestive problems, and diarrhea.
The spleen also greatly nourishes the brain by transmitting pure Qi energy upward to the head, as well as to the lungs. Qi energy from the spleen helps our mind to be lucid and gives us the ability to focus. When we concentrate on something for a long period of time, repeatedly thinking about it, this exhausts the spleen and ultimately damages the organ. Keep in mind that both the spleen and excessive thoughts correspond to the Earth Element. Therefore, the spleen can be harmed by prolonged and excessive thoughts. When the spleen is impaired, we are subject to befuddled thought patterns and poor concentration.
As an organ of the Earth Element, the spleen governs the mouth, muscles, lymph, and chyle, all of which are associated with the Earth Element. Dry lips, a distorted sense of taste, weak muscles, or poor muscle tone could indicate an unhealthy spleen. Conversely, pink and moist lips, a keen sense of taste, and firm muscles indicate a healthy spleen, according to traditional Eastern medicine. The spleen is also what governs the flow of the blood in blood vessels, ensuring that blood does not flow outside of the vessels and that blood does not become too thin or thick. Therefore, hemorrhages, blood in urine, a menstrual disorder, and the tendency to bruise easily could indicate an unhealthy spleen, according to Eastern medicine.
Stomach – Yang organ of Earth
The stomach is the Yang organ of the Earth Element. As the Yang counterpart of the spleen, it provides nourishment to the body by receiving and digesting food. While Qi energy in the spleen has the tendency to ascend, stomach Qi has the tendency to descend. However, when the flow of the Qi energy in the stomach is disrupted, it will flow upward, instead of moving downward, resulting in belching, hiccups, or vomiting.