In western medicine, blood is a substance in our body that delivers nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away. It is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets; each one has a different function and plays an important role in our body.
However, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on the body as a whole. The origin of blood mainly derives from food essence. Food will be digested by the stomach and turned into food essence by the spleen, which sends it upward to the lung. Through the pushing action of lung energy, it is sent to the heart where it is transformed into blood.
Blood is mainly responsible for nourishing organs and keeping the body moist. Internally, it flows in our vessels and circulates through each organ; externally, it flows between skin, bones and muscles.
There are three main functions of blood:
- Providing nutrients for organs, tissues and meridians. Eating a balanced and healthy diet creates sufficient blood that nourishes organs and tissues. It also reflects a healthy glow for skin, cheeks and hair. It may help muscles and bones remain strong and healthy.
- Maintaining healthy body movement and sensation.Huang Di Nei Jing,a famous Chinese medicine text, says, "Having received sufficient blood, the liver can support healthy eyesight. Having received sufficient blood, feet can walk. Having received sufficient blood, the palm can grasp hold of things. Having received sufficient blood, the fingers can pick up things."
- Assisting mind and mental activities. With sufficient blood circulation and nourishment, a clear mind, good spirit, fast thought process and quick reaction times are possible.
On the other hand, if any of the organs are out of balance, it will decrease their functions and may result in blood deficiency, which would cause the following symptoms: pale complexion, pale lips, dizziness, blurry vision, headaches, tiredness, constipation, numbness in four limbs, and a light period. When blood stagnation, also known as bad blood circulation, occurs, there may be symptoms such as a purple-hued tongue, sharp body pain, mental-emotional problems, and blood-clotting during period. It could also cause heart disease or stroke.
We should pay more attention to our daily diet to avoid any health issues. TCM-nutrition would recommend peaches to help increase blood circulation and decrease the risk of heart disease. It is especially helpful for teenagers if they have bad cramps or blood-clotting during their period. Other fruits could help improve symptoms of anemia and restore body energy for anti-aging.
Fanny Hsu, L.A.c., O.M.D., Profound Youth Acupuncture