In traditional Chinese medicine, the concept of blood includes an understanding of the inherent energy within the blood. Blood is created in part from nutrients extracted in the digestive tract as a result of the action of the spleen-pancreas; blood is formed when this extract is combined with the kidney essence known as jing.

Much of the body’s jing is stored in the bone marrow, which correlates with the contemporary Western knowledge that blood is generated in the marrow.

“Western knowledge is that blood is generated in the marrow.”

— Signs of blood deficiency

Paleness of the lips, nailbeds, tongue, and complexion in general, thinness, spots in the field of vision, unusual hair loss, premature graying and thin, dry hair, dry skin, and trembling or numbness in the arms or hands.

Disorders associated with blood deficiency are anemia, nervousness, low back pain, and headache; menses that are painful or lacking result from blood deficiency. Blood deficiency is caused by inadequate intake of nutrients, by the inability to absorb nutrients, or by the loss of blood through gastro-intestinal bleeding or excessive menstrual flow.

Chronic diseases and stagnant blood that inhibits the formation of new blood are additional causes.

— How to build the blood

To enrich, and build the blood through nutrition; there are two general approaches: increase the digestive absorption of nutrients and add those specific nutrients which generate healthy blood. To encourage assimilation, build the qi energy of the spleen-pancreas and reduce any damp/mucus conditions. The nutrients most often needed to cure blood deficiencies are iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Adequate protein is also essential. Of these nutrients, insufficient iron is the most prevalent cause of anemia, but it is not always cured merely with the addition of iron. To absorb iron, one needs adequate copper and B vitamins, as well as vitamin C. Good sources of iron are distributed widely among plant foods, including vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Moreover, when a variety of these foods is consumed in their unrefined states, abundant protein, copper, and B vitamins necessary for iron absorption will be available. Sufficient vitamin C is also available from certain of these foods. For the first stages of the treatment of blood deficiency, one may want to add to the diet the most abundant sources of iron. These are the algae, including both seaweeds and micro-algae such as Dunaliella and Spirulina. Folic acid is found in abundance in micro-algae, sprouts, leafy greens, and chlorophyll-rich foods in general, but the most abundant source of folic acid is Shilajit. Also, folic acid is easily lost in prolonged cooking. Eating raw or lightly steamed greens or sprouts ensures adequate folic acid in the diet. One way to obtain high levels of B12 is to consume Hydrilla. Most blood deficiencies will quickly improve with the addition of even moderate amounts of the above critical blood-building foods.

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