Blood in Chinese Medicine

"Blood in TCM" over blood oranges on the Beachside blog

This post contains affiliate links, meaning Beachside Community Acupuncture PLLC may receive a small commission for purchases made through certain links at no additional cost to you. (In other words, you support us in a small way when you buy the products that we highly recommend and would use ourselves!) Click here to view our full disclosure policy.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Qi and Blood are a pair just like Yin and Yang, and while we've briefly discussed Qi before, we never explained Blood because it's fairly similar to the Western perspective of blood. (We'll use capital letters to designate how we see it.) Our patients often like to understand the patterns or disharmonies in their bodies, though, so let's dig deeper into this simple concept!


First of all, there are three main organ systems associated with Blood:

  • The Spleen is the origin of Blood.
  • The Liver stores Blood.
  • The Heart pumps/circulates Blood.

These are easy to understand as they tie into the Western view of the body nicely, but the relationship between Qi and Blood can be more abstract. The easiest way to think of the pair is in terms of Yin and Yang: Blood is the mother of Qi and more yin in nature, and Qi moves Blood and is more yang in nature. Qi and Blood both circulate through the meridians of the body, and while each has its own pathologies, a disharmony in one often leads to a disharmony in the other. When it comes to Blood specifically, there are two main patterns that we see often in the clinic.

Blood Stasis

You can think of Blood stasis like stuck blood, and it's easy to visualize as a bruise or clot. Qi is usually the mover of Blood, so it make sense that there's usually an element of Qi stagnation - or stuck Qi - in this disharmony as well. The blockage can be caused by a physical trauma, such as an injury, or it can be internally generated. Either way, one of the hallmark signs of Blood Stasis is an element of pain, usually of high intensity. Severe pain after an accident, debilitating menstrual cramps, and endometriosis are all examples of conditions caused by Blood stasis, and the treatment plan involves trying to move the stuck Blood with acupuncture and herbal formulas, among other things.


Helpful acupressure point: SP10

Blood Deficiency

Blood deficiency is very similar to anemia in Western medicine, but someone can be Blood deficient from our perspective but have normal lab values - i.e. iron levels - in tests. Blood deficiency symptoms include fatigue, depression, insomnia, numbness and tingling, vision issues, light-headedness, and more, and it often has an element of Qi deficiency included. Acupuncture and herbs can help with this pattern, but we almost always suggest working on diet too. In Chinese diet therapy, we say red produce can nourish blood - think strawberries, beets, cherries, tomatoes, etc. - and small amounts of meat are also beneficial. Lightly cooked dark green leafy vegetables can help as well, and from a Western nutritional standpoint, eating them with a bit of citrus juice (vitamin C) can make their iron more readily absorbed by the body. We like recommending blackstrap molasses - again, not a thing in TCM diet therapy but more from holistic nutrition - because it is full of trace minerals, and dried fruit usually has a bit of iron in it.


Helpful acupressure point: LV8

Blood Disharmonies in TCM over blood cells on the Beachside blog

Everything in TCM is interconnected, and these two disharmonies can feed into each other if left unresolved. Just like a river without much water will have stagnant pools, meridians without enough Blood can start to experience stasis. On the other hand, stasis is a blockage similar to a dam and will lead to a deficiency of Blood on its other side. Acupuncturists may need to work on both of these aspects, but on your part, maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can go a long way in keeping the body in harmony.

Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.