Blood Deficiency

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 血虚      Pinyin name: Xuè Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: General pattern with specific forms like Heart Blood Deficiency or Spleen Blood Deficiency

Common combinations: Qi and Blood Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Blood Deficiency Spleen Yang Deficiency Heart Blood Deficiency and three other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Profuse Blood lose, 2. Diet, 3. Physical over-exertion, 4. Chronic diseases, 5. Mental over-work

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Insomnia Dizziness Pale lips Amenorrhea Poor memory and two other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Pale, thin and slightly tongue

Treatment

Treatment principle: Tonify the Spleen and Stomach, tonify and invigorate Blood, tonify Qi

Common formulas: Si Wu Tang

Pathology

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 some cases, a long-term Dryness due to Blood Deficiency can lead to Wind in the skin and forms Dry-Wind, which can cause some skin diseases characterized by dry and itchy skin.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Blood Deficiency can derive from Liver Blood Deficiency Spleen Yang Deficiency Heart Blood Deficiency Spleen Qi Sinking Spleen Blood Deficiency Spleen not controlling Blood

Profuse Blood lose: Profuse Blood lose due to trauma, birth-giving or heavy menstruations can consume Blood and causes Deficiency.

Diet: Over eating, pick eating or  alternating over eating and under eating can harm the Spleen's functions of  transforming and transporting foods and drinks. Therefore not sufficient Blood, Food Essence or Body Fluids can be produce for body use.

Physical over-exertion: Physical over-exertion over a long period of time consumes Blood, Qi and Body Fluids. Blood Deficiency is one of the resulting pattern.

Chronic diseases: Blood is a type of Body Fluids, which can be largely consumed due to long term sickness.

Mental over-work: Long term mental over-work can largely consume Blood, especially the Heart Blood. The modern office work requests staring at computer for very long hours, it consumes Blood, which in return can not nourish the eyes.

Diagnosing Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se) or fine (Xi)

Tongue description: Pale, thin and slightly tongue

Main symptoms: Insomnia Dizziness Pale lips Amenorrhea Poor memory Scanty periods Dull white shallow face

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the pale lips and face, dizziness, Insomnia and numbness in the limbs.

Treating Blood Deficiency

Treatment principle

Tonify the Spleen and Stomach, tonify and invigorate Blood, tonify Qi

Herbal formulas used to treat Blood Deficiency

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. 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

Diet recommendations

Try an diet that is good in Blood generation, such as red meat, spinach or animal livers. 

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

Consequence patterns

Dryness

In severe and long-standing cases, Dryness can be the consequence pattern as Blood is a form of Body Fluids

Liver Blood Deficiency

The Liver stores the Blood, so a general Blood Deficiency can cause Liver Blood Deficiency and vice versa. 

Liver Yang Rising

A frequent result of Liver Blood Deficiency is Liver Yang Rising. 

Internal Wind

Liver Blood Deficiency is also a frequent causes of Internal Wind with typical symptoms of vertigo and tics.