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BLOOD IN CHINESE MEDICINE?
Blood (血 xuè) encompass the Western concept of the word and much more. Blood and Qi are as inseparable and interconnected as Yin and Yang. Qi moves and directs the flow of Blood, while Blood provides substance through which Qi can move and nourishes the organs that produce Qi.
Functions of Blood in TCM:
WHAT WEAKENS BLOOD?
DIET TO STRENGTHEN QI
There is an old Chinese saying that it takes “40 parts of Qi to make 1 part of Blood”. Building Blood takes more time and requires high protein foods. The best foods to build blood are animal products: liver (or desiccated liver pills), chicken, and bone marrow broth. Chlorophyll-rich greens are very important. Vegetarians will take a little longer and are more dependent on Chinese herbs. Try to eat organic as much as possible. MacClean and Littleton recommend a diet of 30-40% carbohydrates, 40-50% vegetables, and 20-30% protein.
Specific foods to strengthen Blood: liver, eggs, chicken, beef, bone marrow, bone broth, pork trotters, oyster, mussel, tempeh, miso, quinoa, rice, beans and legumes (especially black beans), carrots, beets, go ji berries, longan berries, mulberries, jujube dates, black sesame seed, wheatgrass, blue-green algae, spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, dill, cilantro, parsley, dark beer (small quantities).
Avoid or limit: excessive raw food, chemicals, refined food.
LIFESTYLE TO STRENGTHEN BLOOD
TIMES WHEN BLOOD IS WEAKENED
WHAT IS QI?
Qì 气(氣) is the energy that animates our bodies and all of life. Qi is a difficult concept for Westerners to grasp and has been further confused by changes in language. You may see Qi spelled “chi” which is from an older romanization of Chinese characters created by Western missionaries called Wade-Giles. In the 1950’s Zhou Youguang created the official romanization of Chinese used today. In Japanese it is pronounced “ki”.
The concept of Qi may be foreign to modern life, but is similar to the understanding of energy in many cultures. For example, we find the concept of prana in Hinduism, mana in native Hawaiian culture, axé in Candomblé, and lüng in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Chinese character is made of two radicals:
The visual of steam emanating from cooked rise gives us a clear picture of Qi; it is insubstantial, it transforms, it is hot, and like rice in ancient China, it is vital to life. Qi is present everywhere in our bodies and the world around us. In our bodies, there are concentrated pathways of Qi (rivers of energy) known as meridians. It is easier to access and affect the way Qi flows in the body by stimulating these meridians. This is the basis for acupuncture, qigong/taichi, and Chinese masssage.
In the body Qi performs 6 major functions:
WHAT WEAKENS QI?
DIET TO STRENGTHEN QI
To strengthen Qi eat simple, uncomplicated meals and favor long cooking times. Congee, porridge, stew, broth, and soup all break down food and make it easier to digest, requiring less effort by the body to extract nutrients. This is why traditional cultures recommend soup for people when they are sick. Limit raw foods as they require more Qi to break down. Eat smaller meals and eat at regular times. Do not allow yourself to go hungry. Avoid drinks other than tea with meals. MacClean and Littleton recommend a diet of 40-60% carbohydrates, 30-40% vegetables, and 10-20% protein.
Specific foods to strengthen Qi: rice, oats, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, peas, green beans, cooked fruit, eggs, most meat and fish (chicken, beef, lamb, tuna). Use cooking spices such as onions, ginger, garlic, clove, etc. Incorporate small amounts of complex natural sweeteners such as honey (though most Americans already eat too many sweet foods).
Avoid or limit: raw fruits and vegetables, soy products, seaweed, salt, brown rice, excessive sweets, dairy, nuts.
LIFESTYLE TO STRENGTHEN QI
TIMES WHEN QI IS WEAKENED