What Is Blood Deficiency?

by Hannah Fries |

What Is Blood Deficiency?

“Blood is the energetic of repose, receptivity, and relaxation. Blood is the absence of tension; it is rest, nourishment, and cycles of movement; it is absence of goals, the easy acknowledgement of what has already been accomplished. Blood is soft, moistening, and allows for recognition of self-worth.”

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood is one of the Five Vital Substances of life. The Yin to Qi’s Yang, Blood anchors and nourishes the more active, novel, and striving nature of our being. Not only does Blood circulate essential nutrients and moisture throughout the entire body, it carries our emotions and our memories, infuses us with worthiness, allows for receptivity and ritual, and propels the effortless cycles of being. And so, Blood’s abundant and easy flow is imperative to our vibrant and abiding wellbeing. 

When Blood is in short supply, our vitality dwindles. 

Deficient Blood is the inappropriate presence of tension; it is restlessness, tightness, jumpiness, the absence of responsiveness and receptivity.

Blood Deficiency (which has much in common with the Western condition of anemia) is often the result of excessive bleeding (i.e. in childbirth, repeatedly heavy menstrual flow, or traumatic injury); or more commonly, the consequence of lackluster digestion (i.e. Spleen Qi deficiency) - the main source of new Blood in the body. On a more abstract level, Blood deficiency may present as the material manifestation of an internal (false) dialogue of undeservingness, which fabricates an inability to receive nourishment and praise.

“Insufficient Blood may be accompanied by poor self-esteem, lack of a sense of self-worth, or poor memory.”

insomnia blood deficiency

What are the symptoms of Blood Deficiency?

  • Restlessness (&/or insomnia)
  • Insecurity and dissatisfaction
  • Poor memory
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Dizziness/instability
  • Thin, emaciated body
  • Visual impairment or floaters
  • Weak tremors or numbness
  • Cramps or tension
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Scanty menses or amenorrhea
  • Pale face, lips, and tongue body
  • Thin pulse
Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency

While many (if not all) organs are impacted by deficient Blood, the organ networks most vulnerable are the Liver and Heart. 

The Liver Stores Blood:

“The Liver’s Blood is responsible for basic repose, unhurried cyclical movements, a gentle milieu, the absence of a need to go anywhere, and the easy sense of self-acknowledgement. The Liver’s Blood softens, moistens, and relaxes.”

Without enough Blood to store, the Liver does a poor job of regulating the Qi. The Liver’s modus operandi is flow. Without sufficient Blood, things can’t flow, and you wind up with a crotchety and forlorn Liver.

“When the Liver’s Blood is deficient, a person will be inappropriately tense, feel confined, nervously fidget, have tight tendons, stiff joints, or spasmodic movement.”

woman journaling

What are the symptoms of Liver Blood Deficiency?

  • Nervousness or frantic anxiety
  • Hopelessness or exhaustion
  • Trouble envisioning and planning for the future
  • Resistance to or intolerance of pain
  • Dream-disturbed sleep
  • Tension and stiffness
  • Numbness and spasms
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Scanty periods or amenorrhea
The Liver Mediates Pain

Liver blood builds our capacity to meet and integrate painful experiences.

“The Liver’s Blood provides for the capacity to feel and experience pain. … Blood allows for acceptance; the Liver’s Blood creates tolerance and ‘more room’ for the limitations and boundaries imposed on human existence. Increased capacity to feel pain means less ‘negative awareness’ of pain--pain can be integrated into a sense of self. Insufficient Blood wants to make things different and causes a person to tense up or excessively resist or react to inevitable pain.Insufficient Blood may also make a person physically numb to pain … or psychologically incapable of tolerating or being compassionate toward his or her own personal suffering.”


The Heart‘s Blood is the responsive and relaxed component of the link to time and place.”

What are the symptoms of Heart Blood deficiency?
  • Forgetfulness - especially of mundane/routine things
  • Anxiety and awkwardness related to particular situations and people
  • Shyness or desire to isolate/withdraw
  • Vulnerability (easily startled)
  • Dull thinking
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Pale complexion
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia - especially trouble falling asleep
  • Trouble retrieving words when speaking in public 

“If Blood is deficient the Heart suffers and the Mind is deprived of its ‘residence’.

si wu tang blood deficiency

Nourishing the Blood

Herbal Medicine:

The most potent Chinese herbal tonic formula used to enrich and circulate the Blood is Si Wu Tang, the inspiration behind DAO Lab’s Women’s Formula. While, as the name suggests, it is especially useful for harmonizing a woman’s menstrual cycle, this formula can be used to nourish Blood and soothe the Liver in all varieties of bodies experiencing Liver Blood Deficiency.

Acupuncture Points for Blood Deficiency
  • Moxa at Liver 8
  • Vetiver Essential Oil at Stomach 12 or Stomach 36
  • Amber &/or Moxa at Spleen 3
  • Rose Essential Oil at Heart 7
Foods for Blood Deficiency
  • Seaweeds, spirulina and other chlorophyll-rich foods
  • Sprouts and Lightly steamed leafy greens
  • Blackberries and raspberries
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Royal jelly, gelatin, mussels, oysters,  or organic (beef/lamb/chicken) liver

Hannah Fries is a California-based licensed acupuncturist and herbalist (L.Ac.), writer, and Integrative Body Psychotherapy allied professional. She seeks to discover & alchemize the psycho-emotional and spiritual roots of disharmony in the physical body to help her clients transform the obstacles that interfere with their innate healing capacity. Find out more about Hannah and her work on her website at https://www.friespirit.com or on Instagram @friespirit.

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