Blood Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 血虚

Pinyin name: Xuè Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Blood Deficiency / Empty

Related conditions: Late menstruation Scanty menstruation

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Numbness Tingling Insomnia Dry skin Dizziness and fourteen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

A Deficiency of Blood occurs when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood. This can be caused by a loss of blood, insufficient Spleen Qi to produce Blood or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

The Organs most likely to be affected by Blood Deficiency include the Heart (since it "governs Blood"), the Spleen (since it "controls Blood") and the Liver (since it "stores Blood"). Liver Blood Deficiency is the most common one and it is especially common in women with symptoms such as scanty periods or absence of periods (amenorrhoea). 

In severe and long-term cases, Blood Deficiency can induce Dryness as Blood is part of Yin. This causes dry skin, dry hair, dry tongue and/or withered nails. In come cases, a long-term Dryness due to Blood Deficiency can lead to Wind in the skin, which, combined with Dryness, can cause some skin diseases characterized by dry and itchy skin.

Diagnosing Blood Deficiency

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Blood Deficiency will tend to exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Blood Deficiency might experience symptoms like amenorrhea, scanty periods, dizziness and numbness (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Blood Deficiency

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Formula summary

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1119 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify.

Besides Blood Deficiency, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan is also used to treat Yin Deficiency or Liver Yang Rising.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Formula summary

Si Wu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Blood Deficiency, Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Blood Stagnation or Liver Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Formula summary

Gui Pi Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen), Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi), Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) and Liquorice (Gan Cao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1529 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood.

Besides Blood Deficiency, Gui Pi Tang is also used to treat Qi Deficiency or Heart Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Formula summary

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang is a 14-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1174 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify.

Besides Blood Deficiency, Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang is also used to treat Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency or Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency.

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Da Bu Yuan Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yin and Blood. Nourishes Qi and Yang.

Formula summary

Da Bu Yuan Jian is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify.

Read more about Da Bu Yuan Jian

Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang

Source date: 1602 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Blood.

Formula summary

Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1602 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Read more about Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang

Special highlight: the link between late menstruation and Blood Deficiency

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the key herb for Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang, a formula used for late menstruation caused by Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency leads to an insufficient amount of Blood in the Directing (Ren Mai 任脉) and Penetrating (Chong Mai 冲脉) Vessels. As they're the Vessels directing and coordinating Blood to the Uterus, the sheer lack of Blood means the periods will fail to happen at the expected time and get delayed consistently.

There can be several underlying reasons for this pattern but chronic illnesses or excessive work are typically the major ones because they impair the Spleen's transforming function. The...Read more about late menstruation

Special highlight: the link between scanty menstruation and Blood Deficiency

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the key herb for Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang, a formula used for scanty menstruation caused by Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency is an obvious pattern for scanty periods. It is often due to a malfunction of the Spleen which is the base of Blood making. Spleen rules transformation and transportation of food Essences (nutrition), Qi, and Body Fluids and their distribution to other Zang Organs. Unhealthy or poor diet can hurt the Spleen Qi and impair its function. For example, a diet lacking in Blood-creating ingredients can cause Blood Deficiency. This is the reason some vegans sometimes have scanty...Read more about scanty menstruation