Liver Blood Deficiency
In traditional Chinese medicine the cause for "Liver blood deficiency" is general blood deficiency. Since one of the liver functions is to store the blood a “general blood deficiency” will manifest predominantly through the Liver.
To have blood deficiency does not necessarily mean to have anemia. As a matter of fact there are lots of people with healthy blood lab tests who according to Chinese medicine would still be diagnosed as blood deficient.
There are different causes that lead to blood deficiency. One major cause is week digestive system (collectively called the Spleen in Chinese Medicine.) When the digestion (the Spleen) is weak it cannot sufficiently perform its transformative function - transforming food into blood and energy. Thus not enough blood is being produced. If this is the case the above blood deficiency symptoms are accompanied with some digestive issues like poor appetite and/or poor digestion.
A diet, which lacks insufficient nourishment, is another cause for the blood to become deficient. A third cause for blood deficiency is severe haemorrhage (bleeding).
A major symptom of blood deficiency is paleness. If there is pale face, pale lips, pale nails than the person is most likely blood deficient. Even to have pale tongue without other paleness means that there is blood deficiency.
Dizziness is another general blood deficiency sign (there is not enough blood to nourish the brain) as well as premature graying of the hair and/or thin, dry hair (not enough blood to nourish the hair)
Since there is not enough blood to nourish the muscles, tendons, and joints, some of the symptoms of blood deficiency are muscle weakness, muscle cramps, muscle spasms and/or numbness in the limbs.
The Liver governs women’s menstrual cycle therefore liver blood deficiency may result in scanty menstruation (amenorrhea) and painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
Since the Liver opens to the eyes and nails if there is liver blood deficiency the vision may be blurred, there may be floaters in the eyes, and the nails may be dry and cracked.
To treat blood deficiency blood needs to be build. The best way to do that is adding blood tonifying foods to the diet. Such are all kinds of meats, specially red meat, eggs (cooked but not well done), and liver. Chinese believe that one way to nourish an organ is to eat the same organ from an animal. Since the Liver stores blood not only in people but also in animals consuming it as a food makes it a great blood tonic. Thus eating chicken, pork or beef liver is maybe the best way to tonify Liver blood and overall blood deficiency.
Although eating liver is something common in lots of cultures, even referred to as delicacy, many people are repulsed by the thought of consuming liver. Therefore the liver can be made into a liver pate (all pate’s are made from liver, most commonly duck liver). Any kind of liver is soaked it in water diluted with some vinegar for 3-4 hours. The reason to do that is that the liver in humans and animals is responsible for cleansing the body from toxins. Since we do not know what the animal has eaten during life we want to cleanse the liver preventative and this is done by soaking it in water with vinegar solution. After it has been cleansed the liver is boiled until soft and strained into a pate. Salt and some black pepper are added for taste. Some curry and nutmeg may also be added to make it more spicy and aromatic. The pate can be eaten with crackers or on a peace of bread with sliced tomatoes. It is a delicious and healthy food and usually people with blood deficiency will most likely crave it.
It is important to point out that red meat, eggs and animal liver are high in cholesterol therefore people with high levels of cholesterol should tonify blood predominantly with plant sources. For them as well as for vegetarians and vegans two great blood tonifying vegetables are spinach and nettle (the nettle may be cooked just like spinach is cooked but if nettle is not consumed as a meal in the local culture it may be treated as an herb and taken in a tea). As both spinach and nettle are rich in iron it is always good to squeeze some lemon in the meal or tea, as iron needs Vitamin C to be absorbed by the body.
Other great blood tonifying vegetables are beets (when squeezed in a juice they have the same texture and color as blood), carrots, and broccoli. Blood tonifying fruits are chlorophyll rich foods – raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, dark grapes. (2)
Dates are a great blood tonic and also tonify the spleen in the case where blood deficiency is caused by a deficient Spleen. For more on how to tonify the Spleen you can review the materials about the Spleen in the Physiology chapter.
Great blood tonic supplementation is the blue-green algae Spirulina. It is highly nutritive and nourishing, and builds and enriches the blood. (2)
On a vital level blood may be tonified by using the acupressure points Urinary Bladder 18 (Liver Shu), Urinary Bladder 20 (Spleen Shu), Liver 8, Spleen 6. If you want to watch the instructional point location videos for these points you can do so by subscribing to the customized part of this project. To learn more click here.
(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited
(2) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books
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