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HoloSapiens - the TCM "Food as Medicine" Project



Red Flower For Heart


  • general blood deficiency
  • weak digestive system
  • diet poor in proteins


In traditional Chinese medicine the cause for "Liver blood deficiency" is general blood deficiency. Since one of the Liver's functions is to store the blood a “general blood deficiency” will manifest predominantly in the Liver.

To have blood deficiency does not necessarily mean to have anemia. As a matter of fact there are lots of people with healthy blood lab tests who according to Chinese medicine would still be diagnosed as blood deficient.

There are different causes that lead to blood deficiency. One major cause is weak Spleen. When the Spleen is weak it cannot sufficiently perform its transformative function - transforming food into "food essence", blood and Qi. Thus not enough blood is being produced. If this is the case the above blood deficiency symptoms are accompanied with some digestive issues like poor appetite and/or poor digestion.

A diet, which lacks sufficient nourishment, such as a diet poor in proteins, is another cause for the blood to become deficient. A third cause for blood deficiency is severe haemorrhage (bleeding).

If you want to learn more about the Liver and its functions from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine you can read the material "The Liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine" in the Physiology chapter.




  • pale face, pale lips, pale nails, pale tongue
  • dizziness
  • premature graying of the hair, thin hair, dry hair
  • muscle weakness, muscle cramps, numbness
  • poor vision, blurry vision, poor night vision

In women:

  • scanty menstruation
  • painful menstruation


A major symptom of blood deficiency is paleness. If there is pale face, pale lips, pale nails than the person is most likely blood deficient. Even to have pale tongue without other paleness means that there is blood deficiency.

Dizziness is another general blood deficiency sign (there is not enough blood to nourish the brain) as well as premature graying of the hair and/or thin, dry hair (not enough blood to nourish the hair)

Since there is not enough blood to nourish the muscles, tendons, and joints, some of the symptoms of blood deficiency are muscle weakness, muscle cramps, muscle spasms and/or numbness in the limbs.


Pale Woman


The Liver governs women’s menstrual cycle therefore Liver blood deficiency may result in scanty menstruation (amenorrhea) and painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).

Since the Liver opens to the eyes and nails if there is Liver blood deficiency the vision may be blurred, there may be floaters in the eyes, and the nails may be dry and cracked.




To treat blood deficiency blood needs to be build. The best way to do that is adding blood tonifying foods to the diet.


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Food Therapy


Food therapy is the most economical and non-toxic biochemical approach to health and disease. Food is something we continuously use to sustain our lives. Learning what foods are healing (and what disruptive) for each condition has the potential to convert every meal into a form of therapy.   


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(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited

(2) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books


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