June New Moon greetings! A note this month about that period-time tiredness, restless sleep, and craving for red meat – and some foods that can help.
All those symptoms, and several others, are related to the Chinese medicine idea of “Blood deficiency” (or “Blood vacuity”). When your Blood is not rich with all that it needs to be carrying for your health and vitality, we call this “Blood deficiency.”
This Chinese medical diagnosis includes the Western biomedical concepts of deficiency in nutrients like iron or B vitamins, as well as low hormone levels, and generally a low level of all that our Blood is supposed to circulate.
How can you get a sense of whether you might have Blood deficiency, and you could use some Blood-building foods? Some clues would be:
- light periods with pale-colored blood
- or heavy periods (if you're bleeding heavily, you can become Blood deficient during and after your period, simply due to that blood loss – and in that case, you're likely tired, and hungry)
- fatigue during and after your period
- discomfort in your lower abdomen that feels better when you press on it gently (making it different from those cramps that make you want to keep all hands far away from your belly)
- poor sleep (the kind where it's hard to settle into a deep sleep, and you wake up frequently)
- pale lips, tongue, and nail beds
- shortness of breath
- lack of coordination
- dry skin
And how can you build your Blood? Below are some great Blood-building foods. Keep in mind that building Blood requires the “ingredients” from your food, and also the “cooking” from your digestion, so if you're eating really well and still Blood deficient, it might be that your digestion needs attention.
- high-quality, hormone-free animal protein (especially beef)
- you can build Blood from plant sources, but it takes more of it, and a longer time
- stocks and soups made from beef or chicken bones
- green leafy vegetables (rich in iron and other nutrients that help you use that iron)
- especially spinach, wheatgrass, parsley
- oysters and mussels
- carrots & beets
- especially black beans
- seaweed, spirulina
- black sesame seeds
- goji berries
If you're a strict vegetarian, you might look into some B12 supplements.
For building Blood, avoid high amounts of sugar or salt. When you're putting your plate together, look to fill 1/3 (or a little more) with leafy green matter, 1/3 (or a little less) with high quality animal protein, and the rest with complex carbohydrates (like starchy root veggies, rice, quinoa, or oats).