Ok, So I Have Blood Deficiency, But What Does That MEAN?

Ok, So I Have Blood Deficiency, But What Does That MEAN?

My first acupuncturist helped me resolve my life-long issue of frequent urination, which I detailed in my last blog. When I first started receiving acupuncture treatments from my teacher, Dr. Lily Chang, I still had a deficient blood situation due to my weak digestive system. I was skinny as a rail (malnourished) and my blood pressure was 60 over 40!

At the time of my first treatment with Dr. Chang I had been a vegetarian for 16 years. So you can probably guess what she suggested. Unlike my first acupuncturist, who intuitively knew how stubborn I could be, Dr. Chang gave me very firm instructions regarding my diet. She requested that I cook a bunch of herbs with a cornish game hen to make a blood-tonifying soup. My response: “ Does it have to be a cornish game hen?”. Her response, an emphatic: “yes!”. To get some perspective, imagine a chi kung master who is also a 64th generation Taoist master, the first woman in the lineage. She is not exactly a person you could argue with, or at least that you would want to.

Shifu, aka Dr. Chang, explained that our blueprint is set up in the first 7 years of our life: our basic sources of protein especially. Because she is Taoist there is also the component of fate. If our parents are vegetarian then that is our particular fate to also be vegetarian, and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be healthy going off our blueprint; it just means we will probably just have to work harder at it. In my case, my health was chronically in bad shape a long time before receiving care so turning it around while simultaneously staying vegetarian was probably not a viable solution. Generally, Shifu has witnessed patient’s health beginning to show signs of decline (in a noticeable to the patient way) in about 10 years after changing the diet. After 15 years, the signs of poorer health are generally not ignorable.

What does it mean if your acupuncturist reports that you are blood deficient? In a general way it indicates that your digestive system is weak and unable to get enough nourishment. Blood deficiency is twofold from a Chinese medicine standpoint: volume and quality. Both are determined by:1) what we eat, and 2) how our bodies are able to process the food. Women tend to have more problems with this due to the monthly period, especially if heavy flow, and breast feeding which is equivalent to the same demand on the body. Women are also more likely to skip meals, eat on the run, multi-task while eating and “diet”: all of which make it harder for the digestive system to thrive.

If you are Blood deficient the most important factor for correcting this is through diet. If you are vegetarian, but not raised as such, then adding herbs prescribed by your acupuncturist is essential. The second most important factor is herbs, which are considered food for the organs. One of the best “herbs” for blood deficiency is bone marrow soup. My next blog will be a recipe for making bone marrow plus a delicious soup that can be made out of it.

Strategies (in a nutshell) for correcting blood deficiency:
1) Eat a large, hot, protein based breakfast; within 1 to 2 hours after arising. Please no smoothies, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal: all of these foods slow down the function of the pancreas if consumed as the first meal, which then further impairs the digestive system.
2) Chew food thoroughly and without distractions (such as driving for example).
3) Eat dinner by 6 or 6:30 pm.
4) Snacks in between meals are okay if protein based; such as nuts or seeds or bean dip with veggies, etc. This is the time to have that smoothie as long as not super cold.
5) Utilize Chinese herbs and /or bone marrow soup.
6) Receive acupuncture.
7) Be patient: blood deficiency takes awhile to manifest and may take time to resolve.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the blog. I will do my best to assist you in reaching your health goals.
Yours in health,
Leslie Shanai