Tagged: Shen

Nourishing Blood with Chinese Medicine

Nourishing Blood with Chinese Medicine

Nourishing ‘Blood’ is a really important therapeutic strategy in Chinese Medicine.

This strategy you can take on for your own self-care to strengthen the effects of your treatment.  This will help you get where you want to be and  maintain it.

Nourishing ‘Blood’ is really important for women, as most women of menstruating age literally loose blood regularly.

 

What is ‘Blood’ in Chinese Medicine?

So what do we mean when we say Blood in Chinese Medicine? It can be very confusing. Let’s clear it up.

When we talk about Blood in Chinese Medicine, we don’t mean blood in the way you know it from a Western biomedical sense.

It’s the same with organs.

It’s a translation issue. Classically, the Chinese have a very precise way to describe the functional physiology of the human body. They have Chinese terms for it,  I would prefer to  call them by their original Chinese terms. But in Western translation we use Western words that unfortunately have already important associations – ie blood, organs.

 

Blood As A System, Not A Bodily Fluid

Chinese Medicine is systems medicine. We are looking at how various systems in your body function together to generate health but also how they behave in dysfunction.

‘Blood’ in Chineses Medicine primarily includes the functional relationship AND physiology of the:

  • digestive system
  • bone marrow
  • reproductive system
  • cardiovascular system
  • central nervous system
  • endocrine system
  • neuro-musculo-fascial planes.

It also includes:

  • nutritional status
  • tissue hydration
  • hormone and neurotransmitter balance.

Blood is a broad term that you can drill down into depending on what type of pathology you are experiencing.

Nourishing Blood in the human body

Why is Nourishing Blood Important?

When practitioners encourage you to ‘nourish your Blood’, we are talking about your ability to nourish yourself.  This is achieved through a proper digestive process, the building of sufficient material resources and the effective distribution of those resources.

 

Qi + Blood are always connected. Qi is Yang and Blood is Yin.

Qi moves the Blood, and Blood nourishes the organs that produce Qi.

Blood moistens and warms the body and its tissues. Areas that suffer from lack of Blood nourishment are cold and often painful.

Blood tends to get deficient or stagnant or a combination of both.

Blood  ‘anchors your Heart-Mind’. Adequate blood levels are really important for your mental health, cognitive function, emotional resilience and ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

 

What Happens if You Don’t Have Nourished Blood?

Fatigue is the first and most obvious sign. You’ve pushed too hard and consumed your resources. Yin/Yang start to become unbalanced. Qi and Blood are consumed and need rebuilding.

Other signs of lack of Blood nourishment can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional turbulence
  • Depression
  • Feeling faint when you stand up or dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Floaters in your eyes.
  • Poor memory
  • Cold limbs/hands and feet
  • Slow healing and recovery
  • Weak immune system
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Gynecological conditions
  • Absent periods
  • Pale complexion
  • Pale gums
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling weak.

 

How to Nourish Your Blood

  1. Eat food. Sounds basic but part of nourishing Blood is the willingness to be open to receive nourishment and to feed yourself well. Supplementation may be needed in Blood deficiency but you cannot build blood without eating.
  2. Improve your digestion. Improper digestion, inc absorption and assimilation can be the root cause of so many pathologies. How is your micro biome? Do you have leaky gut? Are you experiencing inflammation in the gut? Do you have an overgrowth of bacteria or parasites? Do you have adequate stomach acids and enzyme production? Has chronic stress impaired your digestive function? Do you have chronic bloating, constipation or diarrhoea? Even if you are making great choices with the food that you eat, if your digestion can’t break it down and absorb it, you may be malnourished. See the list below for Blood-nourishing foods. Acupuncture and Moxibustion are very effective in improving digestive function.
  3. Engage in adequate movement and rest. Exercise regularly, have an active lifestyle and know how to rest well, relax regularly, protect your leisure time and have good sleep hygiene.
  4. Replenish after blood loss. Such times include menstruation, postpartum, during breastfeeding and post-surgery.

 

Foods for Nourishing Blood

As Blood (in Chinese Medicine) is also made from bone marrow, bone broths and slow-cooked bone dishes are very effective at Blood nourishment. Protein and good fat in every main meal are essential for Blood building.

 

Excellent foods for nourishing Blood include:

Broths

  • Chicken soup
  • Beef bone broth
  • Lamb shanks
  • Osso Bucco
  • Kombu dashi (V)

 

Meats

  • Pate
  • Parfait
  • Offal and traditional dishes containing blood, eg blood sausage
  • Animal protein and good fats are highly effective at building blood. Any animal products should be hormone free, grass fed, free range and ethically treated.

 

Plants

  • Soaked goji berries
  • Chinese dates
  • Figs
  • Prunes
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Dark leafy greens; kale, spinach, watercress, silverbeet, rucula
  • Nettles and nettle tea
  • Macro (seaweeds) and micro (spirulina, chlorophyll etc) algaes
  • Cereal grasses (wheat and barley grass)
Nourishing Blood - pomegranates

Cooking in a cast iron pot can be an easy way to increase your iron intake.

Chinese Medicine doesn’t advocate a vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet, especially for women. It most certainly advocates a wholefood, locally grown, organic diet where you eat seasonally. Any animal products should be hormone free, grass fed, free range and ethically treated.


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Cultivating Spirit – The Shen or Heart-Mind in Chinese Medicine

Shen or Heart-Mind - cultivating spirit

 

“Life is transformation. There is no life that is not an unceasing transformation.”

– Élisabeth Rochat de la Vallée

 

It’s the final month of our Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere. As we approach Spring we get closer to emerging from our Yin state and the building of Yang will initiate.

Yang is light, activity, movement, initiation, action, the doing. On a metaphysical, spiritual and cosmological level the most Yang manifestation of a human, the purest Yang aspect of our consciousness, is the Spirit or ‘Shen’.

Shen is translated as something which is divine, marvellous, extraordinary or mysterious. In recent times we call it the Heart-Mind. (more…)

The Power of Yin

The power of Yin - stargazing

What is Yin?

Yin is a term that comes from the classical Chinese concept of opposite yet complementary forces, Yin and Yang. Yin is described as the “shadow side of the mountain” in relation to the sunny side, which is Yang. Yin is dark, cool and quiet, and so we often neglect the importance of Yin in favour of the hot, bright and loud Yang elements in life.

It’s an elegantly simple concept, yet Yin Yang can describe mind-bending complexities of the mechanisms of the universe. Its essence is encapsulated in the Yin Yang symbol. No matter how you try to dissect this circle, every slice will contain both Yin and Yang. (more…)

Experiencing Difficult Emotions (And How To Mine Them For Their Wisdom)

We all have trouble dealing with our emotions sometimes. Feelings that come up can have all sorts of stories attached to them. Stories we don’t like, feelings we don’t want to experience.

We hide what we feel, ignore it, feel shame and guilt about it, lie about it or blame other people for causing difficult emotions in us.

We also crave certain emotions that are considered positive: we want to grasp on to them, get addicted and attached to things, people and places which generate that emotional feeling.

This attachment to certain emotions can motivate our behaviour and make us feel out of control.

When it comes to emotions, perhaps we never really grew up. (more…)