Blood Nourishing Tonic- East meets West

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Anemia and Blood Nourishing Tonic

Blood is a vital substance according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact in The Book of Leviticus it states, “the life of a creature is in the blood”. In Western medicine, blood is defined as a bodily fluid that delivers necessary substances, such as nutrients and oxygen, to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “blood” dates to the oldest English, circa 1000 AD. The word is derived from Middle English, which is derived from the Old English word blôd. Throughout history and cultures, blood has held both medical and mystical importance. In the Greek and Roman Humoural system, blood was associated with air, springtime and a sanguine personality. They believed it to be produced by the liver. Blood became the basis for one of the oldest medical techniques “bloodletting”. In fact an interesting fact was the bloodletting or “bleeding” a patient to health was modeled on the process of menstruation. Hippocrates believed that menstruation functioned to “purge women of bad humors”.

Qi-300x300As we turn towards the East in TCM, blood has a different meaning. In TCM, blood is itself a form of Qi. Although difficult to translate the word “Qi”, I think of it as a all encompassing life force or energy. In fact, in TCM they consider blood inseparable from Qi itself. It is believed that blood is nourished from the distillation of the nutrients that we take into our body (food Qi). Given this outlook, one can start to see the interrelationship between the importance of eating well and the health of your blood. For instance, think of cholesterol, and the relationship between food and the buildup of plaque in our blood. Although this blog post isn’t about our digestion, you can see now important a well running digestive system is to blood health.

Deficient blood is often an underlying and missed issue in many conditions, especially those related to inflammation and circulation. In TCM “blood deficiency” include low blood pressure, various forms of ischemia, cold fingers and toes (including Raynaud’s syndrome,images both primary and secondary), and fatigue (high blood pressure for other reasons may also be present). Other slightly less common symptoms include thinning hair, heart palpitations, dizziness upon standing (postural hypotension) or vertigo (especially if there is hypoglycemia), falling asleep of arms, restless legs, frequent infections, menstrual cramps, headaches of various sorts, slow healing, low sex drive, sinus issues, ringing in the ears, nails that break easily or grow slowly, and low blood sugar. Fertility can also be affected, as the uterus requires adequate blood. Pregnancy is another time that requires an adequate supply of healthy blood. Our joints, ligaments and connective tissue are also sensitive to blood deficiency, since they get the least amount of blood. Sometimes blood deficiency does not present as full-blown anemia, but is still an underlying condition. There are some medical issues that blood deficiency is either directly related or an outcome of another condition.

Since food is considered our first medicine, I will outline some foods that help to nourish your our blood and then talk about one herbal remedy that is also useful. To nourish blood one has to increase the digestive absorption of the food that is eaten and add specific food to generate healthy blood. I will cover increasing absorption of nutrients in another blog post. indexThe nutrients most need to build blood are iron, folic acid and B12. Adequate protein is also crucial. In order to absorb iron we need to have adequate levels of copper, B and C vitamins. Greens, greens and more greens, as long as it isn’t mostly spinach are a great source of iron, along with legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Algae and seaweeds are also excellent sources, although use sparely, since they are a super food or super concentrated. The Japanese made a blood builder out of pounded sweet rice and mugwort, or for a Western version you can use nettles. When blood deficiency is severe, protein from animal sources might be chosen. Dark grapes, blackberries, huckleberries, raspberries are also great. Actually one of the best sources of iron is organic animal liver, but honestly most people can’t get it down, and prefer it as a desiccated pill. When one builds blood naturally there is less inclination for constipation, a consequence of taking it in tablet form.

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Rumex crispus (yellow dock)

I have been experimenting with making a self-stable blood nourishing syrup. My primary target is pregnant woman, so using herbs that are designated, as safe during pregnancy is vital. There are many Chinese herbs that are great blood nourishers, including dang gui (angelica sinensis), rehmannia root, and peony root, not all safe during pregnancy. Since I am all about a bioregionalism approach I have primarily relied upon what grows in my garden. The base of my syrup is blackstrap molasses, an iron rich food source. I grow medicinal herbs so used yellow dock root (Rumex crispus) as my main ingredient. Although a pain to dig up and process, I find it is more medicinally active than in the dried form. I also included rose hips to potentize its effectiveness with Vit. C.  I also added orange peel for its carminative properties and cinnamon for its ability to enhance circulation. This recipe makes 2 quarts, so divide it depending on how much you want to make. When making syrups, I tend to cook them over several days to extract as much medicinal goodness as possible.

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After 3 days of cooking

 Anemia and Blood Nourishing Tonic*

1/2 cup of rose hips

1-cup dandelion root

1-cup of alfalfa leaf

3-cups yellow dock root

1-cup nettle leaf

1 cup raspberry leaf

2 T. kelp powder

1-Tablespoon of orange peel

1 cinnamon stick

2- qts of blackstrap molasses

Combine the blackstrap molasses and herbs in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce, heat and simmer on low for one hour, let sit overnight, repeat for 3 days. Or you can use a crock-pot set to the lowest setting. Strain and bottle
For adults who are blood deficient, 1 tablespoon 3 t.i.d is recommended, if using as a tonic, 1 Tablespoon a day is adequate.
For children, 1-3 teaspoons daily is sufficient.

*Recipe is based on dried herbs.

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. purplesamuraigoestomedicalschool26
    Aug 03, 2014 @ 18:19:39

    Reblogged this on Holistic Geisha's Healing Realm and commented:
    Gotta try!

    Reply

  2. Anita
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 14:51:13

    I’d love to try this! Do you have suggestions for amounts using dried herbs rather than fresh?

    Reply

    • foodscrap
      Aug 05, 2014 @ 16:53:48

      The recipe that I put up is based on dried herbs, not fresh, in that i figured not everyone had access to fresh dock. If I was using yellow dock dried, I use 1/3 the amount of dried herb called for in a recipe that called for fresh. On the flip side, if the recipe calls for fresh herbs rather than dried, I times the amount of dried herbs by 3 to get roughly the amount of fresh herbs to use. Thanks for clarifying this, I will edit the recipe to indicate dried herbs.

      Reply

    • foodscrap
      Aug 05, 2014 @ 16:53:48

      The recipe that I put up is based on dried herbs, not fresh, in that i figured not everyone had access to fresh dock. If I was using yellow dock dried, I use 1/3 the amount of dried herb called for in a recipe that called for fresh. On the flip side, if the recipe calls for fresh herbs rather than dried, I times the amount of dried herbs by 3 to get roughly the amount of fresh herbs to use. Thanks for clarifying this, I will edit the recipe to indicate dried herbs.

      Reply

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