Rupesh Chhagan LAc   
December 10, 2010

Blood Deficiency (aka Xue Xu)
posted under Food


The concept of Blood in Chinese Medicine is not the same as the biomedical understanding of blood.  The actual word used is xue (pronounced “shway”).  In the context of the body, Blood (xue) points to qualities of nourishment, receptivity, softness, relaxation, ease, and being.  Contrast this with qualities of transformation, activation, tension, dynamism, effort, and becoming which are associated with Qi (energy).

The strategy for building Blood through nutrition is twofold:

  1. Increase the body’s ability to digest nutrients: tonify the Spleen Qi and reduce Dampness foods, tonify the Kidney Qi
  2. Add the necessary nutrients for building blood

When Blood (xue) is deficient, the following signs and symptoms may present:

Signs of Blood Deficiency
Symptoms Paleness of lips, nailbeds, tongue, complexion

Thin body

Dry hair, skin

Trembling or numbness in the arms or hands

Dizziness/Light-headed upon standing

Muscles strain easily

Cracking/popping joints

Associated disorders Anemia, nervousness, low back pain, headache (especially around eyes), scanty or painful menstruation
In the Heart Palpitations, scattered mind, “spaced out” foggy thinking, poor short term memory, chest pain, insomnia (difficult to fall asleep), easily startled, dream-disturbed sleep
In the Liver Excessive dreaming, insomnia (waking at night), blurred vision, “floaters” in eyes, spasms, cramps

What to Eat to Build Blood
General rule of thumb Eat a wide variety of organic vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds
Iron Requirement for uptake: copper, VitC, and B vitamins

–this can be taken as a supplement or preferably gained through following the above rule of thumb

Algae:  seaweeds and micro-algae (eg spirulina)

Folic acid

Micro-algae, sprouts, leafy greens, and chlorophyll-rich foods in general

— Preparation of greens and sprouts: raw or lightly steam

Vitamin B12 Supplements (bacteria-derived)
Adequate protein Grains: Quinoa, Amaranth, Mugwort mochi (sweet rice + mugwort)
Animal products (for more severe blood deficiency) Royal jelly, gelatin (10-15g daily), carp soup, mussels, oysters, the liver of beef, lamb, or chicken, chicken gizzard
Liver Blood deficiency Dark grapes, blackberries, huckleberries, raspberries, blackstrap molasses, gelatin, organic animal liver
Chinese Herbal Formulas

See your practitioner for the most applicable formula.
Lifestyle and Blood Deficiency
Meditation Anxiety and Worry and Indecisiveness are common emotional states that result from Blood Deficiency.  They are also contributing factors.
Less Sweating No Bikram yoga, Saunas, or high intensity athletics (eg: running).  Switch to moderate, mindfulness-based exercise like yoga, pilates, tai chi, qigong
Breast Feeding Breast feeding commonly results in blood deficiency.  If breast feeding, be diligent about following the nutritional recommendations above even if asymptomatic.