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Cold feet? Pale face? Weak upper body? You may have a blood deficiency

When you’re trying to get pregnant but it’s not happening, your mind automatically goes to this process:

Fertility Drugs → IUI (intrauterine insemination) → IVF (in vitro fertilization) → $$$ → Baby? Maybe?

That was definitely my mindset. I kept bringing up the conversation with my husband, because nothing else was working for us. “I might have to try IUI next.” “Will you be okay if we have to do IVF?” “It can take several rounds and it’s not cheap, but it’s worth it,” I’d quickly add. Every time I brought it up, he’d get stressed out. I’d done five round of Letrozole and - while I was ovulating like crazy and had great progesterone levels - there wasn’t even a smidge on a pregnancy test. My OB told me that there was nothing more he could do, so it was time to move on to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

Long story short, we decided to try the holistic route before attempting any more fertility treatments. My first time at an acupuncturist, she told me right away, “You have a liver blood deficiency, the way Chinese medicine diagnoses it. You just need to keep your feet and abdomen warm, keep taking your supplements, and I guarantee you’ll be pregnant in a few months.”

When you’ve been looking for answers for years with no confirmation, hearing a diagnosis that matches with all of your symptoms feels magnificent. Even now, I tear up whenever I think about my newfound relief and purpose. I proceeded to do the insane amount of research into TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Liver Blood Deficiency. Here’s what I’ve found…

What is a Blood Deficiency?

TCM has a different approach to blood compared to Western, “modern” medicine. Western methodology sees blood as “the red liquid that circulates in the arteries and veins of humans and other vertebrate animals, carrying oxygen to and carbon dioxide from the tissues of the body” (Oxford Languages). But in TCM, blood is so much more than that.

In Chinese Medicine, blood is in charge of: - Nourishing the body by flowing throughout the vessels, organs, and channels - Providing flexibility and moisture to the body’s tissues - Supports & anchors our consciousness (mental health) - Empower Chiropractic & Acupuncture

The Symptoms of Blood Deficiency

  • Habitual miscarriage

  • Muscle weakness

  • Floaters in eyes

  • Tingling of limbs

  • Dull-pale complexion

  • Numbness in the limbs

  • Dream disturbed sleep

  • Feeling of aimlessness

  • Diminished night vision

  • Withered and brittle nails

  • Constipation

  • Insomnia

  • Dry hair

  • Dry skin

  • Pale lips

  • Dizziness

  • Amenorrhea (lack of periods)

  • Depression

  • Blurred vision

  • Scanty periods

  • Cold extremities/always cold

  • Infertility

One of my biggest signs that something wasn’t quite right was when my periods - which were ALWAYS 4-5 days long - dropped to TWO days after my second miscarriage. That’s it. I mentioned this to every doctor I saw, and every single one of them said it was normal. But I knew it wasn’t. I looked everywhere online, posted about it in forums, and no one had an answer for me.

Triggers/Causes of Blood Deficiency

One of my favorite things about holistic health is that it looks for the root cause of the problem. Instead of jumping straight to treating the symptoms (blood deficiency is considered a symptom of a deeper problem), natural practitioners dig deeper to find out what is causing your symptoms and treat that instead.

  • Physical overwork

    • Overdoing it physically drains the blood, according to TCM. This lines up with Western medicine, an example being female athletes who don’t menstruate due to intense workouts.

  • Blood loss: Childbirth, donating blood, injury, miscarriage

    • This was probably my trigger point, as I noticed my period shorten after my second miscarriage.

  • Ongoing blood loss

    • This explains why menstruating women are most likely to receive this diagnosis.

  • Nutrient deficiency

    • “This is one of the most common underlying causes I see in clinic from habitually (even if unintentionally) just not eating enough, disordered eating, malnutrition from a poor diet or low appetite, intentional fasting, dietary restrictions, post-bariatric surgeries (which are designed to decrease appetite), and (here’s a big one) **inadequately supplemented** vegetarian/vegan diets. Let me clarify: I am not against vegetarian/vegan diets nor do I think they are unhealthy. However, they can become unhealthy when relying on mostly processed carbs with little-to-no protein, actual vegetables, or proper supplementation of vitamins/minerals that are inherently more abundant & absorbable from animal protein. Let me also share: I was a vegetarian and vegan for many years earlier in my life, so I am speaking from experience and empathize with the lifestyle and ethics behind it. My point is that vegetarian (especially vegan) diets do require extra diligence to ensure you are getting the most *bioavailable* nutrients you can without meat like Vitamin B12 (which you need for red blood cell production, converting food into fuel, brain health, and nerve myelination) and Iron. There are many vegetables that contain iron, but not in the heme form, which is more recognized and efficiently assimilated in the body. All in all: you do not need to give up a plant-based lifestyle, make sure you are getting what your body needs to thrive.” - Empower Chiropractic & Acupuncture

  • Drug-induced nutrient depletions

    • While street drugs are terrible for you (we all know this), many prescription drugs also severely deplete your body of vital nutrients. These include:

      • Hormonal birth control depletes folic acid/B9, B2, B6, B12, Vitamins C & E, zinc, selenium, & magnesium PMID: 23852908

      • Proton-Pump-Inhibitors depletes Vitamins B12 & C, iron, calcium, and magnesium while decreasing gut flora biodiversity PMID:25083257

      • Statins for high cholesterol depletes antioxidant CoQ10 PMID: 29558445

      • Anti-Hypertensives for high blood pressure can block different nutrients depending on the mechanism: ACE Inhibitors deplete zinc while Calcium Channel Blockers deplete potassium PMID: 29558445

      • Antidepressants deplete calcium and Vitamin D PMID: 29558445

      • Do not adjust/discontinue any medications without talking to your prescribing physician first

  • Genetic predisposition

  • Parasitic infection

    • This is my root cause, and I wanted to add it on the list because very few websites cover this. Americans are pretty ignorant about the risk of parasitic infection, because we are considered a First World Country and are obsessed with sterility. One of the naturopaths I’ve seen mentioned that she believes my infection came from a tick bite that occurred about 10 years ago. That’s not bad hygiene; just bad luck. This diagnosis was confirmed by two other holistic practitioners, all using different methods.

    • Being the science-lover that I am, I wanted to test that this really was the case. So, I took Ivermectin (no, it’s not just horse dewormer) for a week, every other day, at the direction of my highly-educated, nurse mother-in-law. I felt suuuuuper detox-y after the second dosage. I got my period a week later, and it lasted five whole days. That’s the first time I experienced a full period in over a year.

Treatment of Blood Deficiency

The one drawback (or maybe it’s a good thing?) to TCM treatment is that treatment is incredibly individualized. That means that I can’t tell you how to cure yourself. Like I mentioned earlier, it all comes down to what initially caused your deficiency. For me, I have to:

  • Take a regimen of Chinese herbs and supplements prescribed by my holistic practitioner to detox my infection and refortify my body

  • Keep my feet and abdomen warm

  • Use a moxa stick during the first two weeks of my cycle

  • While on the couch or in bed, stick my frozen feet under my husband’s butt even though he complains (this isn’t technically part of my script, but shhhh)

However, I can help you get warm! Here are my favorite recommendations that keep me from feeling like ice:

  • Wear fuzzy, warm socks... always. Yes, even to bed

  • Invest in Ugg or Bearpaw boots

  • Lots of natural, warm clothing, like wool, leather, or vintage fur coats

  • Warm drinks like tea

  • Herbs and spices that are warming, like cinnamon and ginger

  • Look into "yang foods" and prioritize those

I’m curious to hear what you think about Chinese medicine! Let me know your thoughts below :)


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