Fatigue. Depression and anxiety. Difficulty focusing. Sports injuries. These are some tell-tale signs of a blood deficiency that Lisa Pugliese, R.N., L.Ac., says she has observed frequently in her practice. “It’s a common pattern in girls and women — a disturbance in what Chinese medicine calls qi — that we have been able to treat easily and well at Concept Wellness.”

“Some women lose more blood than others, we call it ‘burning blood,'” says Pugliese. But blood deficiency is not anemia nor a disease, it’s an imbalance.

In Chinese medicine, the mind or the spirit known as shen, likes to live in the heart where it is nourished by the blood. When this disturbance occurs, heat can disturb the shen. Fortunately, Pugliese reports, making dietary changes and supplementing with Chinese herbs can build the blood and calm the shen.

Common among teen girls

Pugliese reports a pattern of blood deficiency in teen girls in her practice, namely:

  • Vegetarians (whose blood may not be well nourished by their diets)
  • Athetes (who burn blood excessively in exercise, and may suffer injuries when muscles and tendons don’t get blood nourishment)
  • Anxious students who expend a lot of energy on their studies.

“We have treated numerous girls — and the classic pattern we observe is a teen who is a vegetarian who tears her ACL or suffers another sports injury. She may have become so blood deficient that her period goes away. And she is highly anxious.”

Blood deficiency in women

Also be on the lookout for blood deficiency after having a baby or a trauma. It can be found in women whose periods go away, or are either very light or heavy. Depression and attention problems can ensue, as well as fatigue, pale and dry skin, hair loss, and anxiety.

Treating blood deficiency

How does Concept Wellness resolve the imbalance? “Animal products and protein as well as green plants that contain chlorifil help to build the blood,” Pugliese shares. “We recommend stir frying with protein and consuming bone broth.” The Chinese herbal formula Gui Pi Tang is often prescribed, and it has the benefit of being very well tolerated and a vegetarian product.

One recent patient, a 17-year-old girl had begun breaking out in hives and experiencing severe social anxiety in new social situations. She was referred to a psychologist for counseling. But once Pugliese spoke to her, the classic pattern of blood deficiency became clear. “We are seeing this more and more among anxious students. And wonderfully, we are able to treat it and resolve the issues in a short time.”