Learn About Your Spleen and How to Keep it Healthy
What and where is the spleen?
The spleen is a soft, small organ that is about the size of an avocado and is positioned in the upper left side of the abdomen under the ribcage. The spleen has many functions; although, it is primarily an immune organ.
What does the spleen do?
The spleen is a hub for the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the system that drains fluid from organs and tissues and circulates white blood cells to help the body fight infection. The spleen is the largest organ involved in this system. The following actions are some of the known functions of the spleen:
Production of infection fighting antibodies and white blood cells
Maintenance of fluid balance in the body
Maintenance of blood volume
How do I know if my spleen is compromised?
Common indicators that your spleen may be under stress are as follows:
Frequent bacterial infections
Chronically swollen lymph nodes (often manifests as small, swollen knots, especially on the back or front of the neck, under the chin, behind the ears, in the armpits and in the groin area)
Unexplained pain or fullness in the upper left belly
Chronic skin rashes/conditions
A history of Mononucleosis (Mono) infection
Bruising or bleeding easily
Anemia that doesn’t respond to iron supplementation
Are spleen issues dangerous?
It is unusual for spleen issues to be dangerous. Medically, the spleen is not typically addressed unless in medical emergency conditions. As the spleen is a soft, spongy organ, it is possible for it to rupture if it is injured. Injury usually comes from abdominal trauma. A Mono infection often causes the spleen to enlarge, which increases the spleen’s vulnerability to injury. As a result, individuals with Mono should be careful to avoid injury until the spleen returns to normal size, which can take weeks or months. A spleen rupture can be life threatening, but is extremely uncommon without abdominal trauma.
Unlike conventional medicine, holistic medicine addresses the spleen preventatively. Early warning signs of spleen symptoms can be addressed naturally to assist with overall health.
Can you live without a spleen?
Yes! You can live without your spleen. The liver will take over some of the spleen’s functions in its absence.
Some individuals are born without a spleen, or sometimes too many spleens that don’t function properly. I once heard of an individual that was born with five spleens! In his case, more was not better and all five were surgically removed. There are other cases where individuals had a history of a ruptured spleen or a surgical removal.
Often, life without a spleen can mean living on chronic antibiotics because the immune system is compromised. However, a spleenless life doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve had multiple patients, without a spleen, function with healthy immunity without the need for antibiotics, by taking additional immune, lymph and liver support.
How do you support your spleen?
There are many ways to support your spleen, or your immune system if you don’t have one. Here are the 3 primary ways to support your spleen:
Reducing your toxic load.
Eating a healthy diet.
Taking spleen and immune supporting supplements.
It is important to reduce your toxic load because one of the functions of the spleen is to filter the blood. Eliminating toxic cleaning products, personal hygiene products and additives to foods is a great way to help your spleen and thus your immune system.
Diet is always a cornerstone of immune health and plays a role in the quality of your blood. The best diet for your spleen is a low carb diet that is focused on high quality meats and proteins, high in vegetables (and in this case, especially cooked vegetables and greens) and good fats, with minimal carbs from starchier vegetables and fruits.
What supplements are good for the spleen?
There are many supplements that help to support the functioning of the spleen. Any immune system support may have an application in this case.
Here are a few of my favorite supplements for general spleen support:
Chlorophyll Complex from Standard Process: This supplement contains the component of plants that makes them green. Chlorophyll helps to purify and build the blood.
Immuplex from Standard Process: Immuplex is a whole food supplement that helps support the immune system and white blood cell maintenance.
Scolopendrium from Marco Pharma: This supplement is an herbal blend that serves as a drainage remedy for the spleen. I have had many patients solve pain in the upper left abdomen using this remedy.
The spleen is a frequently overlooked organ because when it functions properly, there is little reason to think about it. However, your spleen is very important to your immunity and the quality of your blood and is thus worthy of attention. If you have any indicators of spleen stress, you should take proactive steps to heal it. At the NHCAA, we use Muscle Testing to evaluate your spleen for stress and to help locate the correct support in your individual case. If you need help with healing your spleen, contact our office.
Having a routine helps us manage our response to daily stress. Here are 3 stress management supplements to help you support healthy stress responses in the body.
Natural Calm Magnesium Powder
Magnesium is essential in many functions in the body. Magnesium helps the body produce GABA, a neurotransmitter that is inhibitory and helps us with the functions of rest and sleep. When studied 68% of Americans lack adequate daily dietary magnesium. Natural Calm is a tasty way to boost your daily magnesium levels and promote healthy sleep functions. I drink 1 teaspoon in water before bed nightly! (1)
Drenamin by Standard Process
If you feel physically weak and less productive due to stress, Drenamin for anxiety may be exactly what you need. Drenamin delivers whole-food adrenal support and B vitamins to the body to support a healthy stress response. When studied, B vitamins have been proven to help manage work-related stress. This study showed a reduction of personal strain and reduction in depressed mood within 90 days of supplementing with B vitamins. (2)
Cal-Amo by Standard Process
If you experience symptoms like allergies and asthma that get worse with stress, Cal-Amo is a wonderfully helpful supplement. Cal-Amo does the job of balancing the pH in the body. Have you ever known someone who had an allergy or asthma attack who felt better with an acidic food like coffee or cola? Exactly! It helps correct an overly alkaline pH, and so does Cal-Amo. Cal-Amo also supports the utilization of minerals and supports the adrenal glands as well. Other symptomatic improvements noted when taking Cal-Amo are reduction in joint stiffness and reduced acid reflux! (3)
If you need supplements for stress relief and to maintain a healthy stress response, please call our office today for natural stress relief help! Your practitioner will help determine which of these whole food stress management supplements is the best fit for you! If you would like to order one or more of these stress relief supplements, go HERE.
Yours in health and longevity, Kristen R. Clore, BS, MOT, OTRL, C.W.C. I-MD, Ph.D. student in Integrative Medicine & Quantum Physics Holistic Occupational Therapist, Nutrition Response Practitioner
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I remember when I was young hearing the phrase “feed a cold, starve a fever”. But, what does that really mean? The definition of starve is: 1) to kill with hunger; 2) to deprive of nourishment. This does not seem like the best idea. What IS a good idea is to eat healthy foods to avoid viruses (and other immune challenges, too.)
Having a low appetite can be common when you are ill because your digestion slows down when the immune system is working hard. So, if you aren’t hungry, forcing yourself to eat is not necessary. However, drinking adequate fluid is (especially if a person has a fever).
Research is being done with lower carbohydrate diets and illness, and one such study indicates that a ketogenic diet can help with immune system function. (1) This means that eating a diet that focuses on healthy fats, adequate-protein, and fewer grains and sugar could be beneficial to your immune health.
Here Are Foods To Avoid:
These foods are higher in an amino acid arginine which can perpetuate viral load (whereas lysine could suppress viral load). (2)
NUTS: Almonds and Almond Butter, Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts and Peanut Butter, Cashews, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Brazil Nuts
OTHER: Oatmeal, Pasteurized Dairy products, Sunflower seeds, Chocolate, Corn, Sesame Seeds, Onions, Brown Rice, Soybeans, Whole Wheat, and Millet.
White refined sugar should be avoided because it is inflammatory and depletes your B vitamins and minerals (which are essential for your immune system).
I did an anti-viral elimination diet and avoided all the foods in the previous paragraph for 3 weeks. With slow reintroduction, I learned what each specific foods did to my body. Almonds caused an upset stomach. Peanuts or peanut butter created cold sores. Oatmeal caused a headache. Now I know what to avoid for myself. You can discover this, too.
Foods Strengthen Your Immune System:
The following anti-viral foods and herbs can generally strengthen your immune system. Most of these have high Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and mineral content.
A healthy habit that supports your immune system is regular consumption of bone broth.
Almost every culture has made use of bones in cooking to get the nutritional benefits as well as to make the most out of precious resources.
Here are some of the health benefits of bone broth for immunity:
Rich in easy to absorb minerals
Contains healing factors for the lining of the gut (helps to heal leaky gut)
Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails
Supports healthy joints
Supports skin elasticity
Naturally boosts the immune system
Contains minerals, amino acids, collagen, gelatin, good fat
Supports bone health
Helps with detoxification
During these challenging times of living during a pandemic, it is more important than ever to access as many of the health and immune system benefits available to you as possible. Bone broth is one of the cheapest of those precious resources available to you and has the added benefit of being food as well as medicine.
Now, you likely have more time than ever to cook so break out your pressure cooker, crockpot or stockpot and try it out. Sure, you can buy bone broth in the store, but it’s going to be missing the fat and gel that make it so good for you. Not to mention that it is quite expensive to buy when you can make it at home easily with scraps! Making your own bone broth is good for your immune system and your budget.
Dr. Amanda’s Simple Instant Pot Bone Broth
Apple cider vinegar
Add bones to instant pot up to almost 3/4 the way with some gaps between bones. (I used organic grass-fed beef bones)
Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Add water up to the max fill line.
Let sit for 30 minutes to begin bone demineralization.
Add spices and vegetable scraps if you want. (I used 5 crushed cloves of garlic, some celery scraps, and pink Himalayan salt)
Close the lid to the pot and turned the valve to seal. I used the soup/broth and low-pressure settings for 120 minutes.
After it is done cooking, strain the broth into a pot then put it in mason jars. After it cools, put them in the refrigerator. After 12 hours the fat and gelatin will rise to the top.
You can store the bone broth in the refrigerator for 1 week. To store longer, freeze.
You can use a crock pot or stock pot, but will need to cook for at least 12 hours using those methods.
You can drink this broth plain or with butter and salt. You can also use this as the base for soups, gravies and for braising.
Bone broth can be used for fasts. I have seen dramatic improvements using this type of fast for individuals with digestive issues as in addition to giving the digestive system a rest, it contains those gut healing factors. Bone broth is also a great complement to a keto or carnivore diet. Bone broth is the staple for the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet and can support a healthy mood and sleep.
I recommend consuming at least 1 cup per day for gut and immune benefits. With the current viral situation we are facing, I advise daily consumption over at least the next 3 months.
For more help on how to integrate bone broth into your nutrition plan and how to access mother nature’s medicine cabinet, contact the office to set up a phone visit.
Your gut health is intimately connected with the health of your microbiota. Specifically, your gut is the tract that goes all the way from your mouth to your anus. The term “microbiota” refers to all the organisms living in AND on the human body. The microbiota is made up of a large variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Your microbiota live in a delicate ecosystem. These bugs keep each other in balance. When this microbial balance becomes disrupted, you develop “dysbiosis.” Dysbiosis refers to a microbial imbalance in which “bad” bugs opportunistically colonize OR bugs that are normally “good” in small amounts overgrow and become pathogenic. Correcting dysbiosis is how you restore your gut health.
How does gut health get disrupted?
There are many reasons why the microbiota gets disrupted. A common cause is the overuse of antibiotics. According to the CDC, 50% of antibiotics prescribed are either unnecessary or inappropriate. The damage in this scenario is two-fold; first, antibiotics indiscriminately kill many of the bugs in the gastrointestinal tract. Secondly, with the overuse of very broad-spectrum antibiotics, what are left behind are what have been referred to as “superbugs,” which are very treatment-resistant and make it very hard for the microbiota to correct itself.
Another issue surrounding antibiotics is that 80% of the antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are given to livestock. This means that even if you have managed to go your entire life without taking a prescription of antibiotics if you have ever eaten conventional meat and dairy, you have been exposed.
A factor that is just as important, if not more so, than antibiotic use, is DIET. Eating processed, high acidity foods treated with chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics as well as loaded in refined sugar makes up the majority of gut health issues. The good news is that this is the most controllable cause of dysbiosis.
Eating foods that you do not digest well can also create dysbiosis. When I tell patients they have a food sensitivity often they reply “But I’ve been eating that my whole life and it’s never been a problem!” The truth is, that may be the problem in and of itself. Eating a food that is not digested well may feel fine for days, months even many years. It often takes a long time for symptoms to manifest. Meanwhile, it is costing your body much of its precious reserves and energy to process and damaging the gut. Discover how to start a diet plan to take ownership of your health.
The fundamental issue of dysbiosis is the imbalance of microbes. There are “commensal” microbes (“good bugs”) that have a beneficial role in the gut and also “pathogenic (“bad bugs”), disease-causing microbes that are not a normal part of the gut ecosystem.
There are a multitude of ways infection can come into play. Scenario 1: dysbiosis exists and the commensal bugs get out of balance. Some “good bugs” become overgrown or out of balance while other “good bugs” are not at a high enough level for good health. 2. Dysbiosis is created due to an infection with a “bad bug” such as a parasite, mold/fungus/yeast, and/or bacteria that is NOT native to your body’s ecosystem.
Regardless of what scenario has occurred, the infection must be resolved to heal the gut.
A poor diet and antibiotic use are two very problematic factors that disrupt gut health; however, there are many other contributors. Toxic exposures, long term general medication use, exposures to pathogens foreign to your microbiota (overseas travel for instance), and being born from C-section and/or consuming baby formula as an infant are all contributors.
What does dysbiosis do to the body?
The gut is the hub for digestion, nutrient assimilation, creation of neurotransmitters and immune factor creation. As a result, dysbiosis symptoms and conditions can run the full gamut of physical as well as mental symptoms and conditions. The following list names many of the more common and or/well-established issues connected to dysbiosis.
Constipation AND/OR diarrhea
Unresolved skin rashes
Weak immune system/frequent illness
Especially B12, Iron and Folate
Frequent yeast infections
Chronic Conditions Connected with Dysbiosis:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
How To Heal Your Gut
“Let food be thy medicine.”
Food and Food Eliminations:
You can take the best supplements on the planet, but if your food choices are incorrect for your body, your gut will not heal and you are wasting a lot of money.
There are many ways to attack your diet. The most basic steps to take are to eliminate all processed, chemicalized and refined foods from your diet. A good rule of thumb is to shop primary the outer perimeter of the grocery store, leaving the center aisles alone. Eating grass-fed beef and other meats and eggs that are free of hormones and antibiotics is important. White sugar is out, completely.
As many pathogenic bugs proliferate on sugars, keeping even natural sugars to a minimum is important. Most people should be eating no more than 100-75 grams of carbohydrates a day for good gut health. Some individuals with difficulties losing weight, unresolved infection and inflammatory conditions should eat less than that.
Depending on your specific health profile, you may need to implement an Antifungal Diet, an elimination diet, or, in more extreme situations, the GAPS diet.
If you have a lot of reactions after eating foods, you should find out what your food sensitivities are. As food reactions are not always immune in nature, allergy tests alone may not be enough to find your trigger foods. For this reason, elimination diets have a lot of value. My favorite elimination type diet to use is the Whole30. Journaling your food intake along with your symptoms often helps you find the foods that are triggers, as well. Keep in mind that often a food can still launch a negative response for about 3 days after consumption.
Pages upon pages could be written to go over this what supplements should be given to help dysbiosis. I will only cover the supplements I see most broadly applicable.
Almost all gut issues require a good probiotic. There are many blends out there and many reasons why one might be superior to another. The following are some general guidelines:
Vaginal Health a) Primarily Lactobacillus Strains
Gut Health and Oral Health – Broader Spectrum a) My favorite: Flora 12 + from Energetix
Baby Health -B. bifidum and B. infantis a) Prenatal through 2 years
I find that if you have potential parasites, yeast issues, and thyroid problems, it’s good to make sure you have the S. boulardii strain in your probiotic. Prosynbiotic from Standard Process and Flora 12 + from Energetix contain this strain. There is also a stand-alone S. Boulardii from Physica I use if a patient needs to amp up another probiotic for those concerns or if they generally do not do well with supplementing probiotics (this can happen if a patient has Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth also know as SIBO). S. boulardii is actually a beneficial yeast that is not killed during most antibiotic therapy and has strong antiparasitic and anti-candida properties.
If you have taken many probiotics in the past with little results or do not feel well with probiotics, you may be a better candidate for a supplement called Ion*Gut Health (previously known as Restore). This supplement is not a probiotic but contains factors from soil that help to improve the health of the gut wall and to create an environment in the gut lining that can support a healthy microbiota.
If you have long term gut health issues that don’t resolve with the above interventions, you may need support for specific digestive organs (such as the gallbladder or intestines) or a leaky gut protocol. To find out what additional interventions you need, see one of our practitioners.
This is the time of year where supporting your immune system is very important.
This year maybe even more important. As we move into cooler temperatures and less sun exposure, giving your body a nutritional boost is essential.
Preparing for the cold and flu season is very important. There are many types of viruses. They all behave similarly and have similar characteristics. Many things that help with one viral strain help with others, too. You could have a cold or flu or a more serious viral infection like meningitis, Epstein Barr (mononucleosis), chickenpox, shingles, or HIV, and still benefit from similar nutritional support. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical care, diagnosis, and/or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Medical Doctor for questions about a medical condition before you start learning how to prepare for flu season naturally.
Viruses spread in different ways, depending on the virus. Hepatitis C, a liver disease, is spread through body fluid. Influenza can be spread by coming in contact with the virus that has been left behind on an object or through the air. Immune challenges like bacteria divide to grow. Fungi grow in the body by spreading spores. But, viruses replicate differently once they are in the body. They attach to cells and then penetrate the cell. Then, these cells are unable to function normally.
Many viruses like the liver and replicate there. They can also get stuck there as the body is going through normal detox and healing processes. Viruses also impact nerve lines. This is why people often have headaches when they have a virus. The pain with shingles is because the nerve is inflamed by the virus.
During the flu season and if you have a history of viruses keep your immune system strong with the following tools and vitamins for your immune system:
Keep your cells healthy with a whole food vitamin C supplement like Cyruta Plus or Cataplex C. If you keep the cell wall strong viruses can’t penetrate as easily.
Echinacea Premium is an excellent support product for the immune system. Kerry Bone, the manufacturer of it says: “it is like putting glasses on the immune system so it can work better.
Calcium Lactate helps with fever and helps mobilize white blood cells to better fight off illness.
Vitamin D helps the immune system and is good for the bones. It can also help circulation, brain, and helps with calcium absorption. Fall and winter (times when sun exposure is less) are a good time to consider Vitamin D supplementation.
L-Lysine can help suppress viral expression and also help with tissue healing.
Zinc supports a healthy immune system function.
Wash your hands frequently.
Some foods can flare viral load. The foods that are common triggers are high arginine foods: nuts and seeds, nut butter, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, brussel sprouts, oats, and onions. Avoiding these foods if you suspect a virus can help your immune system recover faster.
I hope some of these natural virus relief ideas help you on your path to wellness!
Yours in health, Kerry Cradit, B.S. Nutrition and Food Science