Blood is one of the most important fluids in the body regardless of which medical background is observing it. From a TCM perspective blood is a little different to its western counterpart. It is seen as a form of condensed qi and is inseparable from qi as the two work in unison, nourishing and moving each other. This article will cover the basic idea of blood in Chinese medicine and hopefully provide the reader with a strong understanding of the concept presented.
1) Production: This section will be brief as it has been covered in more detail with the foundational organ articles. In short, food and water are consumed and processed in the spleen with the qi being moved upward to merge with air via the lungs. From here the kidney adds a little essence and the heart controls the process and circulates it. Finally the liver has the responsibility of storing and recharging it.
2) Nourish & Moisten: Blood has the functions of nourishing (carrying nutrients) to all parts of the body and also moistening – ensuring that things like the eyes remain moist and skin has enough moisture; these functions are aided by the organs in the body (Liver – eyes, Heart – tongue, Spleen – mouth, Lung – nose, Kidneys – ears).
3) Basis for the Mind: Once more we touch upon the concept of Shen which is often translated to mind, consciousness or spirit; all correct but none fully grasping the concept. Having enough blood will ensure the mind (remember it is housed in the heart) is strong which will give good concentration and the ability to focus. A lack of blood can lead to a feeling of a scattered mind, restlessness and general fatigue.
4) Determines Menstruation: Though the blood loss in women during a period is related to tian gui (a different type of blood made from kidney essence), normal blood is still required to ensure a smooth flow and regulation of cycle.
5) Relationship with Qi: As mentioned, blood is a denser form of Qi. Blood relies on qi to generate, move and hold it in place however in return it acts as a structural basis (yin to yang) that anchors qi inside the body and also nourishes it. This unique relationship was the origin to the phrase – Qi is the commander of Blood, Blood is the mother of Qi.
It can be a little difficult to grasp these concepts as a singular idea however gathering the functions and perspective as a whole will make the puzzle clearer. Each part of Chinese Medicine foundations is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle and sometimes you need to take a step back to understand the full picture as a single piece fails to paint the entire portrait.