The other day, I hit a wall.
I was laying on the couch, surrounded by papers and dirty lunch dishes, trying to organize my to-do list. I was so tired I couldn’t think straight, and everything felt much more overwhelming than it needed to be. “I don’t know what to do with myself!” I whined as I sank deeper into the cushions. And then it dawned on me…
I wasn’t having an existential crisis. I was just Blood deficient!
From a Chinese medicine perspective, “Blood” is much more than the red stuff that pumps through your body. It’s a complex system that includes the production and distribution of energy and vital nutrients. When you’re rich in Blood, your muscles and organs will be well-nourished and you’ll most likely feel energized, clear, and focused. You may also have a “rosy glow.”
When you’re Blood deficient, on the other hand, you might feel wiped out, spacey, and untethered—either for a short bout or for an extended period of time. Here are some other ways Blood deficiency can show up in your body and mind.
Feeling “spaced out”
Floaters in vision
Pale skin and tongue
IMPORTANT: These symptoms can also be signs of other issues, so be sure to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any of these— especially heart-related symptoms.
Some women (like me) feel this way around day 3-5 of their cycle. I call this “the Moony Blues,” or “Post Menstrual Syndrome.” But that’s not the only way we can become Blood deficient. Moms who give birth and breastfeed (and get very little sleep) are especially prone to these symptoms. Others become Blood deficient by working too hard or from burning the midnight oil night after night. Stress and emotional upset can also drain our reserves and leave us feeling like Dracula’s last meal.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to fortify your Blood and distribute those vital nutrients where you need them the most.
Go to bed
The best thing you can do for your Blood is sleep, especially before 11:00 pm. But here’s the catch… Blood deficiency can sometimes lead to insomnia, which leads to more Blood deficiency, which leads to… You get the idea.
If you ever find yourself in this vicious cycle, you might need to “fake it till you make it.” In other words, try going through the motions of falling asleep, even if you’re wide awake. Lie down, close your eyes, and quiet your mind. This alone will help restore your Blood and make falling asleep much easier in the long run.
Give your brain a break
It takes a lot of Blood to keep track of all you’ve got to do in a day, not to mention all the things you think you should be doing. Take some time to stop thinking—and that includes reading, watching television, or scrolling through your Instagram feed. Soften your eyes and redirect all that focused attention back into your head for a while. I know it’s easier said than done, but the more you do it, the better you’ll feel!
Eat nutrient-dense food
The simplest way to nourish your Blood is to eat foods that are rich in protein, iron, B-12, and folate. Red meat, poultry, and eggs are certainly high on the list, but the following fruits and vegetables are also Blood-building champs.
I admit there’s one item on this list that I haven’t always loved, but it’s really grown on me over the years. In fact, sometimes I feel a hankering for it so strongly, that I’m willing to go to great lengths to put some on my plate.
Check out my video below to see me unearth this powerful Blood tonic from under a foot and a half of snow (as you can see, I did manage to pry myself off the couch). I highly recommend eating this too, though you may want to easier on yourself and just pick some up at the grocery store. ;)
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I’m an acupuncturist and Eastern medicine practitioner, specializing in digestive health. When I’m not teaching or writing, I’m most likely growing vegetables, plunking my banjo, or making an impressive mess in the kitchen. Learn more…