Spleen Emotions

Mind-Body Connection: the Emotions Associated with the Spleen



In the field of health and wellness, the profound connection between the mind and the body has been a topic of increasing interest. While this understanding is relatively recent in Western medicine, ancient Eastern traditions have recognized and explored the intricate relationship between emotional states and physical well-being for millennia.

TCM recognises that each internal organ naturally resonates with a positive mental energy that turns into negative emotions under the influence of emotional stress. Feeling and expressing emotions are a normal and healthy aspect of our human condition. Emotions only become a cause of disease when they persist for long periods of time, when they are very intense, or both.

This post will focus on the negative emotions that can disrupt the Spleen’s equilibrium and lead to a state of dis-ease. The Five Element theory associates the Spleen with the Earth element and the negative emotions directly affecting the Spleen are worry and pensiveness.

It’s important to note that the relationship between emotions and the physical state of an internal organ is bi-directional. While emotional stress causes a disharmony of the internal organs, a disharmony of the internal organs may cause an emotional imbalance also.

Worry and Pensiveness ‘Attacking’ the Spleen


Worry is a natural and common emotional response that arises when one feels anxious, uneasy, or concerned about real or perceived problems, uncertainties, or threats. It involves thoughts and feelings about negative outcomes or potential negative events in the future.

Some level of worry is normal and healthy. It helps us identify potential risks and plan for the future. Problems arise when worry becomes excessive or chronic, leading to mental and physical health issues. Unfortunately, this is fairly common in our society today and learning strategies to recognize and manage excessive worry is essential to prevent the chronic ailments linked to it.

On the other hand, there are individuals who are very prone to worry due to pre-existing imbalances in the spleen and other organs associated with this emotion.

The cognitive aspect of worry involves repetitive and intrusive thoughts about the perceived problem or threat. These thoughts can be difficult to control and may lead to a cycle of overthinking and analysing potential scenarios. The emotional aspect of worry often leads to feelings of unease, fear, restlessness, or nervousness.

In TCM it’s said that ‘worry knots Qi‘, meaning that Qi is obstructed by worry so that Qi stagnates. Some of the symptoms caused by worry affecting the spleen are: poor appetite, slight epigastric discomfort, abdominal pain and distension, tiredness and a pale complexion.

It is also said the ‘excessive worry injures the Intellect.’ The Spleen’s mental energy is responsible for concentration and memorization. When the Spleen is healthy, we are able to focus and memorize easily but, when disturbed, that same type of energy becomes pathological leading to worrying, brooding and constant thinking.


Pensiveness is very similar to worry with certain nuances. It’s characterized by constant thinking (that may or may not involve worrying), nostalgic hankering, brooding and, in general, thinking intensely about something. At the extreme, there is repetitive and obsessive thinking. Pensiveness is also related with excessive mental work in the process of carrying out one’s job or study. Like worry, pensiveness affects the Spleen and ‘knots Qi’, causing the same physical symptoms.

The positive mental energy of pensiveness is meditation and quiet contemplation. It is when this energy becomes pathological that can turn into pensiveness, brooding and obsessive thinking.

The Subtle Magic of Essential Oils for Worry and Pensiveness

As seen earlier, obsessive worrying and over-thinking is especially damaging for the Spleen.

A number of essential oils have been found to positively impact certain brain structures associated with symptoms of worry, obsession and repetitive thinking when out of balance. Some of these are:

  • atlas cedarwood
  • blue tansy
  • german and roman chamomile
  • helichrysum
  • lavender
  • patchouli
  • vetiver
  • ylang ylang

If you are prone to worry and pensiveness, try these essential oil blends in your diffuser:


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