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By P. Sze | Last updated: July 26, 2023

Navigating Spleen Qi Deficiency and Weight Gain: Understanding and Actionable Steps


Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Mengfei (Devin) Yuan

Mengfei (Devin) Yuan is a Professor at Fundación Europea de Medicina Tradicional China in the Tarragona Area of Spain. He has served as a Doctor of Medicine in the foundation for over 5 years.

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Spleen qi deficiency and weight gain is a complex topic within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We spoke with Dr. Yuan, an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for practical advice. In the upcoming interview, we’ll share his helpful strategies and explain this condition in more detail.

Does spleen Qi deficiency cause weight gain?

Yes, spleen Qi deficiency can indeed cause weight gain. Many people lead stressful lives, overthink, sit for long periods, lack physical exercise, and have diets that are greasy or high in sweets. These factors often affect the function of the spleen’s Qi, accumulating phlegm and moisture, which can result in obesity.

What lifestyle changes can I make to support my weight loss if I have Qi deficiency?

If you’re dealing with Qi deficiency, making certain lifestyle adjustments is important. Limit your intake of raw, cold, greasy, and sweet foods. Eating a balanced diet, keeping a regular schedule, and adding suitable exercise to your daily routine can also be helpful.

How crucial is my diet in addressing spleen Qi deficiency and weight loss?

Your diet is pivotal in addressing spleen Qi deficiency and weight loss. Controlling your diet is the most critical part of the weight loss process. While exercise and other treatments can aid in weight loss, they only play a supporting role. If your diet isn’t controlled, it’s akin to continuously filling a reservoir while trying to scoop water out – the water level will never decrease.

Are there specific foods or herbs you recommend to help boost my Qi levels for weight loss?

Yes, certain foods and herbs can help boost your Qi levels. Avoid raw and cold foods as they can damage the Yang Qi of the spleen. Similarly, limit your intake of sweet and greasy foods as they can affect the operation of the spleen qi. The best foods for spleen qi deficiency include lotus seeds, semen coici, jujube fruit, setaria italica, and yam. Certain herbal formulas like BU ZHONG YI QI WAN, SHEN LING BAI ZHU SAN, WU LING SAN, and REN SHEN JIAN PI WAN can also be beneficial.

Are there any specific exercises or movements you recommend to help improve Qi flow for weight loss?

Taiji and Qigong are great exercises for spleen qi deficiency, especially for weight loss. Other simple tips include eating slowly, standing briefly after meals, and not doing heavy exercise right after eating.

Can acupuncture help with weight loss if I have a spleen Qi deficiency?

Indeed, acupuncture for spleen qi deficiency can be a potent weight loss tool. Here’s a simple explanation of how it works:

  • Acupuncture can help your body break down fats more efficiently. People who are overweight often have higher levels of certain fats in their body. Acupuncture can aid in weight loss by stimulating specific points on the body, helping to speed up fat breakdown.
  • Acupuncture can help manage your appetite. It can affect your nervous system to slow food digestion, helping you feel full longer and reducing overeating.
  • Many people gain weight due to imbalances in their body’s systems, often seen in women after childbirth or during menopause. Acupuncture can balance these issues, boost metabolism, and assist in burning extra fat.

Can you explain in simple terms how a Qi deficiency might cause weight gain?

Sure, when there’s a deficiency in spleen Qi, it can disrupt the normal flow of blood and fluids in your body. This disruption can lead to problems with how your body processes fluids, causing them to build up in certain areas. Over time, this buildup can lead to weight gain, either in specific parts of your body or more generally.

How common is spleen Qi deficiency weight gain in patients who come to you for weight loss?

Based on my experience, many patients seeking weight loss treatment have spleen Qi deficiency. This accounts for almost half of them.

What are the symptoms of weak Spleen Qi if I have weight issues?

If you have weight issues and Qi deficiency, you may feel symptoms such as fatigue and drowsiness. You might also experience snoring, excessive saliva, muscle weakness, bloating, or loose stools.

How do you assess my Qi levels during consultations?

To evaluate your Qi levels, I first check for signs typically linked to Qi deficiency. These include fatigue, drowsiness, snoring, excessive saliva, muscle weakness, bloating, loose stools, and dizziness. I also observe your tongue and pulse. If your pulse is empty, soft, fine, or slow, and your tongue is pale, swollen, or has tooth-marked edges, your Qi is deficient.

Are there any potential side effects or risks of using TCM to treat spleen Qi deficiency for weight loss?

While most side effects of TCM treatment are controllable, there can be some risks. During acupuncture treatment, you may experience needle sickness, bleeding, or needle stagnation. Using Chinese herbal medicines for a long time might put extra strain on the liver and kidneys. This is particularly true for people with health conditions or taking Western medicines.

How long does it usually take to start seeing weight loss results with TCM treatments if I have a Qi deficiency?

Typically, I suggest my patients come in for treatment two to three times a week, and we look at their progress over two-month cycles. Maintaining a balanced diet, adhering to a regular schedule, and getting appropriate physical exercise during this time are essential. Usually, people with simple weight problems often see good results with TCM treatments. However, the effects might be less pronounced for those whose weight gain is caused by medication or is secondary to another condition.

Have you seen any success stories from patients who have used TCM to address spleen Qi deficiency for weight loss?

Yes, I have seen many success stories of overcoming spleen qi deficiency weight gain. One that stands out is a lady who weighed over 90 kg. She didn’t have any other health conditions. After only a week of TCM treatment, she felt less worried about eating, slept better, and had more energy during the day. After two months of TCM treatment, she lost over 10 kg.

What are some common misconceptions about TCM and spleen Qi deficiency for weight loss that you would like to clear up?

One common misconception is that using TCM for weight loss means you don’t need to control your diet. This is not true. Diet control is a crucial part of the weight loss process.

What advice do you have for me if I’m considering using TCM to address spleen Qi deficiency and weight loss?

If you’re thinking about using TCM to tackle spleen qi deficiency weight gain, I suggest sticking to these three rules:

  • Arrange your three meals reasonably. 
  • Stand for half an hour after eating. 
  • Fast for 3-5 hours before bedtime.

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P. Sze

P. Sze

P. Sze is the founder of TCM Tips and Dragon Acupuncture®. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a first-class honor in Civil Engineering. She also holds a master’s degree in Engineering and is the brain behind the innovative TCM products of Dragon Acupuncture®. She is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Auricular Therapy: Application of Ear Seeds (ISBN 978-1520451398) and Facial Gua Sha - Fight the Signs of Aging Naturally and Inexpensively (ISBN 978-1980678922). She has dedicated her life to ensuring that the complex theories behind oriental medicine and the seemingly dangerous techniques that involve needles and fire do not scare you from trying oriental medicine. This is why she writes endlessly about acupressure and its countless health and wellness benefits.

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