This article discusses treatment of deficient blood via Shiatsu. Shiatsu is a deep body of work, a synthesis of deep energetic methods combined with the theory and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Using finger pressure, stretches, heat, vacuum and lineaments on specific acupoints (Tsubo's) and channels, Shiatsu balances the circulation of energy (Qi) and blood in your body thus controlling empty heat, and deficient nourishment and other factors. It is incredibly calming for the body and it's nervous system.
Sometimes in a shiatsu session you hear me talk of a blood deficiency. What this means is not that you have less volume of blood per se but rather it's a case of the blood being of lesser quality. Low on some components that are normally present. In a western sense, this may be likened to a condition called anemia where it has low iron levels (ferotin) or vitamin B12. In Shiatsu we are concerned with the root cause. The question then becomes not which pill to take but why is your blood deficient and what has happened or what is underneath that is causing the blood to end up as deficient.
Chinese medicine has an understanding that the Heart is the emperor and amongst other things is in charge of pumping blood. It is replenished by your Liver (during rest) however Spleen and Lungs play a big role. They are in charge of producing Qi which is necessary for any organ, heart included, to function. The question then becomes, what is affecting these organs for this condition to manifest.
Blood is Yin in nature so to "build up" blood what we want to do is nurture your Yin. The substance or structure of the body. Because Yin is balanced by Yang, looking at the Yang - activities of your life - would be where I would begin. Overwork, late nights, lots of long term exertion will bring the Yin Yang relationship out of balance. Excessive coffee consumption is also on the target for a close inspection. Drinking herbal, green and black teas just prior and during meals has also been studied as affecting iron absorption* and thus blood quality. Very strong emotions can play a large part. In practice it is often a combination that is at play. No two people are alike.
To nourish this Yin substance we need to look at specific causes of mal absorption in the digestive processes. What is the state of the energetic relationships between your organs? If we just look at the spleen and stomach as an example Heart nourishes them energetically, the liver controls it, it nourishes the lungs and controls the kidneys. It's a complex picture I establish diring the diagnosis stage.
What can you do?
There are of course the foods are you eating, are there any that are hindering your absorption? And what foods are good to include in your diet? Generally speaking these would be sweet (not sugar but root vegetables), Sour and salty (sparingly) flavours.
Dark leafy greens prepared in a manner appropriate to the seasons is the key. See newsletters 1- 4. Generally speaking, the darker the vegetable's colour the more nourishing it is to the blood. Foods such as kale, kelp, kidney beans, black soybeans, black sesame seeds, beetroots and their greens, nettles, parsley as well as tempeh.
Cherries, apricots, dates, grapes, dates, black currants are all beneficial.
Animal foods such as the chicken eggs, red meat (beef) and liver are just some of the examples.
Seafoods such as mussels, squid, cuttlefish, oysters nourish blood deeply.
Avoiding sugar is highly recommended due to it's strong ability to unsettle blood balance and scatter the Qi.
In treatment I would be guided by a full diagnosis specific of your body's type, state, season and your symptoms and we may require a blood test.
Having said that, in general, nurturing of the blood building systems would be in order. Spleen, Lungs, Heart and Kidneys meridians may need to be addressed in the Shiatsu treatment and may additionally be treated with specific points and or Moxa.
References and comments:
* Inhibition of non haem iron absorption by polyphenolic beverages. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10999016