by Shoshanna Katzman
A common health trend these days for many people includes reducing the amount of red meat they consume for various reasons. It thus becomes quite surprising when their acupuncturist may suggest they eat small amounts of red meat combined with a variety of vegetable on a regular basis. The main reason for this recommendation is to build and produce adequate amounts of Blood (xue) within their system. Quite simply, this stems from red meat containing blood itself, along with strengthening the flow of Qi (vital energy).
Having ample amounts of Blood flowing throughout the body is essential for everyone. However, it is especially important for those with a Chinese medicine diagnosis of “Blood Deficiency.” The main symptoms of this energetic imbalance include excessive fatigue, dryness, coldness, dizziness, insomnia and headaches. In many instances, deficient Blood is the root cause of women’s health issues such as pre-menstrual syndrome and difficulty conceiving a baby. Quite interestingly, deficiency of Blood may stem from inadequate transformation and transportation by the spleen organ system or lack of proper storage of Blood by the liver organ system. This is why an acupuncturist focuses on strengthening energetics of these organ systems when working toward building their patient’s Blood.
Chinese medicine views Blood as a material and fluid-like form of Qi (vital energy) that circulates primarily through the blood vessels – while also flowing within the meridian pathways along with qi. Blood serves to nourish and maintain various aspects of the body. This includes moistening tissues and keeping them from becoming too dry. It provides “the harbor within which the mind can flourish” by establishing the material foundation for Shen as the spiritual element of a person’s psyche. Therefore, there exists a direct connection existing between Blood flowing through one’s system and the overall health of their mind, body and spirit.
Blood is further described as a dense form of Qi that originates from transformation of food into Food Qi (gu qi). This points to another reason that strengthening spleen energy is so connected to ample Blood supply. And why it is so important to be mindful of choosing foods that are known to tonify Blood. This may include enjoying a warm and nutritious bowl of soup made with kombu seaweed, in addition to carrots, onions and tofu. Eating dates, grapes, candied ginger, spinach, nuts, seeds, beans and eggs are also excellent choices – along with beets and dark leafy vegetables. Having a green smoothie each morning also works to build Blood combined with blueberries, banana, nutritional yeast, aloe vera and black cherry juice. And be sure to avoid eating too many bitter or overly pungent foods as well as those that are difficult to digest.
Working toward keeping Qi flowing smoothly throughout the body is key to increasing Blood flow. This is due to their mutually beneficial relationship whereby an increase in Blood strengthens Qi and vice versa. Tai Chi and Qigong exercise are excellent ways to accomplish this goal as they increase flow of these vital substances throughout the body’s meridian (energetic) pathways.
Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Tai Chi and Qigong all serve to remove blockages in flow of Qi and Blood along with nourishing them when deficient. All in all, they provide a holistic path toward moving through the 2020’s with greater inner vitality, harmony and tranquility. Allow the knowledge garnered through Chinese medicine to provide you with “food for thought” about new methods to integrate into your overall health plan.
Shoshanna Katzman, L.Ac., M.S. is an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and director of Red Bank Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Shrewsbury, NJ for over thirty years. She is author of Qigong for Staying Young: A Simple 20-Minute Workout to Cultivate Your Vital Energy (visit www.qigong4.us) and co-author of Feeling Light: The Holistic Solution to Permanent Weight Loss and Wellness. Shoshanna has taught tai chi and qigong for over 45 years and is a 6th generation lineage holder of the Guang Ping Yang Style Tai Chi Form. She is offering qigong and tai chi instruction via Zoom and outdoors weather permitting.
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