Sunday, June 19, 2016

Heal Blood Deficiency with Chinese Medicine Diet and Lifestyle - Dr. Lia Andrews

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:

  1. Houses the Shen. Shen is often translated as “spirit” but it also encompasses the concept of “mind” and “consciousness”. If Blood is deficient the Shen “has no home” and becomes scattered and disordered. This explains why patients with Blood deficiency often feel mentally scattered, have difficulty focusing or remembering, feel emotionally vulnerable, anxious, timid, are easily frightened, suffer from palpitations, and have trouble sleeping. (If Blood is stagnant, as often happens after trauma, it also has mental/emotional ramifications: depression, severe insomnia).
  2. Moistens Organs, Tissue, and Meridians. Healthy Blood gives our skin a rosy glow, provides luster and life to our hair, and gives us strong nails. Blood deficiency is implicated in many skin issues that have symptoms of dryness, itching, and pallor. Healthy Blood lubricates our tendons and muscles. Chronic tension and stiffness is a sign of Blood deficiency. Blood nourishes the eyes. Deficient Blood causes blurred vision and other vision issues.
  3. Allows For Sensation and Movement. Localized blood deficiency can lead to a lack of sensation and function such as numbness or atrophy.
  4. Anchors Qi. The moist substance of Blood keeps Qi from moving upward recklessly as in some cases of headaches and tinnitis.
  5. Menstruation. Healthy shows itself in normal menstrual blood that is red and of medium volume. Symptoms of Blood deficiency include delayed period (body takes a long time to build up the uterine lining), pale blood, and scanty volume.


  • Excessive mental work and stress.
  • Excessive or pathological bleeding such as internal bleeding or heavy periods.
  • Qi deficiency.
  • Caretaking.

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.


  • Rest during menstruation and postpartum.
  • Balance self-care with nurturing others.
  • Balance activity with rest. Sleep an extra hour after a tough workout or a hard day.
  • Practice meditation, qigong/taichi, or other stress-relieving activity.


  • Women during menses, postpartum, and menopause.
  • After a period of blood loss.
  • Periods of stress and extreme mental exertion.

For more information on Blood and how you can improve your health check out my books 7 Times a Woman and The Postpartum Recovery Program.


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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Heal Qi Deficiency with Chinese Medicine Diet and Lifestyle - Dr. Lia Andrews

From 7 Times a Woman and Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine; Volume 2:

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:

  • 米 (mǐ) = rice
  • 气 (qi) = air/steam

acupuncture model 1

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:

  1. Transforms Substances. For example, Qi transforms food and air into usable fuel in the body, unusable substances into urine, and Qi into Blood. Weak Qi means weak digestion and an inability to draw nurturing from the environment. It causes Blood deficiency and other weaknesses.
  2. Transports Substances. For example, Qi transports vital nutrients extracted from food and blood from the heart to the uterus for menstruation. When Qi is weak it can cause stagnation and blockage because there is not enough Qi to move substances.
  3. Protects the Body. Qi circulates on the surface of the skin, protecting the body from external invasion of pathogens. Weak Qi means weak immunity.
  4. Holds in Substance. Qi holds in body fluids like keeping blood in the blood vessels, urine in the bladder, and sweat from seeping out indiscriminately. Weak Qi can allow substances to come out excessively or at inappropriate times such as spotting or early menses, urinary incontinence, spider veins, and spontaneous sweating.
  5. Raises the Organs and Tissue. Qi keeps the skin and organs raised up in their proper place. Weak Qi can cause conditions such as uterine prolapse or sagging skin.
  6. Warms the Body. Qi is a function of Yang, and provides the heat necessary for the bodies functions. Weak Qi can manifest as coldness.


  • Too much physical work or working out. Long stretches of cardio particularly weaken Qi. If you feel exhausted rather than exhilarated after a workout you have depleted your Qi.
  • Overthinking, worrying, ruminating, researching, and studying exhaust Qi.
  • Poor or inappropriate diet. The decreasing quality of our food supply (GMOs, pollution, etc.) has a negative effect of everyone’s Qi, but certain people will be more susceptible.
  • Stress.

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.


  • Eat regular meals.
  • Go to bed by 10pm.
  • Be more active and eat bigger meals in the morning and early afternoon. Practice relaxation and rest in late afternoon and evening. Don’t eat past 7pm.
  • Balance activity with rest. Sleep an extra hour after a tough workout or a hard day.
  • Practice qigong or taichi.
  • Spend time in nature.


  • Before the age of 6 and after menopause/andropause.
  • During illness.
  • Periods of stress and extreme mental or physical exertion.
  • Women after childbirth and during menses.
  • Men after orgasm.

For more information on Qi and how you can improve your health check out my books 7 Times a Woman and The Postpartum Recovery Program.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

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3am Key West wake up call, wouldn’t be the same without...

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