How Do Your Blood Levels Stack Up?
As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I am often telling my patients to eat cooked foods, drink bone broths and go to bed early. (You can bet I’m fun at a party!)
This is all in the name of “building blood”.
But what exactly does this mean? What does having blood vitality feel like? And does having a Chinese medicine ‘blood deficiency’ pattern, actually mean that you have a low Western medicine blood count?
These are all questions that I will answer for you as we dive deep on everything ‘blood’ in this two-part series. So, grab a brothee and let’s begin.
The Chinese medicine concept of blood.
In Chinese medicine, blood is a holistic concept that encompasses far more than the physiological functions of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Sure, we can appreciate that the cellular composition of blood is important, and that a key function of blood is to transport oxygen and nutrients around the body. However in Chinese medicine, blood is seen as a dynamic and material form of Qi (energy) that is essential for both physical and emotional functioning.
When referring to ‘blood’ or ‘blood levels’ in the Chinese medicine context, we are referring to a broader set of functions that the blood carries out.
- Blood serves as a nutritive force, providing essential sustenance to the body.
- Blood acts as a moistening fluid that ensures optimal hydration and lubrication of the tissues.
- Blood embodies an energetic quality that sees it intrinsically linked with the mind and emotions.
At times, there can be an overlap with blood conditions diagnosed in Western medicine such as iron-deficiency anemia. However, it is possible, and in-fact common, to have completely normal blood test results whilst still having Chinese medicine blood deficiency. This can be a little tricky to get your head around at first, but I’m sure you might know someone who hasn’t been feeling well for a while, yet all their blood test results come back as ‘normal’. It’s here that the Chinese medicine system truly shines in its ability to evaluate the blood holistically and qualitatively, based on how well its physical and energetic functions are being performed.
How does your blood health stack up?
There are many clinical signs I look for when I meet a patient to assess whether their blood levels are abundant and overflowing - or, whether we have some work to do together. (Spoiler, there are loads of easy steps you can take to support healthy blood levels - more on this to come!). Before we explore what a Chinese medicine blood deficiency is though, let’s check in with what having healthy and adequate blood levels feels like.
What does having blood vitality feel like?
When your blood levels are abundant, put simply, you feel unstoppable.
You wake with bountiful energy, ready to seize the day. Your energy is consistent and even, sustaining you through the morning rush, work and the school pick-up. (No 3pm energy slumps here!) Your complexion is bright, with a soft, rosy glow on your cheeks. From top to toe your skin is moistened, hydrated and free from dryness. You have clarity of mind with sharp memory and the ability to focus on your daily tasks. Your emotions are balanced and you’re not feeling overwhelmed by waves of anxiety, mental restlessness or excessive worry. And finally, sleep. Ahhhh, glorious sleep. You wind down for the evening and fall asleep with ease. Next thing you know, your alarm (or tiny human alarm/s) are waking you for the next day. You’ve enjoyed a solid night’s sleep and feel refreshed upon waking.
Blood vitality checklist:
- Sustained energy
- Bright complexion
- Hydrated skin
- Regular menstrual cycles with flow lasting for 2-6 days
- Clear eyes and vision
- Strong hair and nails
- Balanced emotions
- Restorative sleep
- Clear cognition and focus
- Pink tongue body
Now it is my hope that you’ve breezed through this checklist and these features are all too familiar for you. However, for a lot of people out there, there are times when this just isn’t the case.
Join me in part two, as we explore the specific symptoms of a Chinese medicine blood deficiency diagnosis, what causes them, and most importantly, the top 5 things that you can start doing today to build your blood.
Dr Jess Bowkett
Chinese Medicine Practitioner
(Part 1 of 2)