What to eat for blood & iron deficiency

What is blood deficiency in Chinese medicine?

Women’s health, fertility and pregnancy are all dependent on the quality of your blood. In Chinese medicine, the spleen (digestive energy) transforms food into qi and blood. The liver stores the blood and we need good blood to ovulate, build a healthy endometrial lining and conceive. In medical terms, iron deficiency is low iron in the blood labelled as anaemia. Anaemia can be diagnosed through a blood test. If your iron levels tend to be below or even just above normal range you can still present as blood deficient in Chinese medicine. When the blood is weak or deficient, as the body is not adequately nourished with appropriate blood foods, or constitutionally the body tends to not make enough blood or there is stress or overwork, insufficient blood is made and too much is consumed in the long-term.

Causes of blood deficiency

  • Poor dietary choices and irregular eating habits
  • Worry, anxiety and overthinking
  • Excessive work, lack of sleep and rest
  • Withholding communication and emotions
  • Excessive medication, alcohol & substance abuse

What are the signs and symptoms of blood deficiency?

These symptoms will range in intensity and frequency. Usually a blood deficiency presentation will have at least 3 to 4 of these signs and symptoms:

  • Pale lips, face, tongue, dry facial skin and body skin, hair falling out, floaters in the vision, body aches, numbness and weak tendons that are easily injured.
  • Dizziness, poor memory, difficulty focusing, depression, anxiety, difficulty relaxing, easily stressed, difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, amenorrhoea (no period), a feeling of floating and disembodiment.
  • Lack of strength, upper body tension, really heavy periods or light periods, dull headaches or migraines, especially after the period once blood has been lost.

How can blood deficiency be treated?

Blood as a pure bodily substance is imperative for your fertility and health as it carries vital substances and nourishes and moistens the body. When our blood is healthy, our period comes smoothly and regularly, with little clotting, is fresh red in colour and of substantial flow (because the body has enough to give). Blood is a condensed form of qi (energy), and qi leads the blood so it circulates effectively. You need good, healthy digestion to be able to break down the food to then transform it to blood. This is why restricted diets, eating disorders, poor and unguided vegan and vegetarian diets lead to long-term blood deficiency. If you are vegan or vegetarian you need to see a good naturopath who specialises in vegan and vegetarian nutrition before further implicating your health.

Foods that build the blood

The foods below are beneficial for your blood. It can take months to improve your blood with acupuncture, herbs and diet, and it will be well worth it for you and conceiving. Healthy blood nourishes your skin, nails, muscles, tendons and hair. It keeps our memory and responses sharp. We feel centred and grounded with our emotions and feelings.

  • Grains – Barley, corn, oats, rice, sweet rice, red quinoa
  • Vegetables – Alfalfa Sprouts, artichokes, beetroot, button mushrooms, cabbage, celery, dandelion leaves, dark leafy greens, kelp, shiitake mushroom, spinach, watercress & wheatgrass
  • Fruits – Apple, apricot, avocado, date, fig, grape, longan, mulberry, cherry, raspberries, goji berries & Chinese red date
  • Beans – Adzuki, black soya, kidney, blackbeans
  • Nuts & seeds – Almonds, black sesame & chia
  • Fish – Mussel, octopus, oyster, sardine, tuna, salmon & ocean trout
  • Meat – All red and dark meat especially bone marrow & liver (choose organic)
  • Dairy – Eggs
  • Herbs/spices – Nettle, angelica, rehmannia, withania & parsley
  • Condiments – Amasake & Molasses
  • Supplements – Algae, spirulina, Floridax (Iron), B12, Folica Acid, Vitamin C & bee pollen

Eat Warm

  • Support your spleen qi with lightly cooked and warm foods and add some spices to aid digestion such as ginger, cumin, fennel and cardamom.
  • Avoid eating food cold straight out of the fridge or drinking cold water or icy drinks. Drink very warm water to support digestion and circulation.

Liver Blood Foods (Very Important For Fertility)

  • Naturally dark red, green & black foods are beneficial for the liver blood
  • Artichoke, beetroot, dandelion leaf, kelp, avocado, date, mulberry, dark grape, black sesame, oysters, liver, nettle & molasses.

Meal ideas

Congee, well-cooked grains, leafy green salads, sprinkling almonds & black sesame seeds on meals, stews, in summer freshly-squeezed juice with beetroot, cooked spinach & carrot, fried liver and home-made pâté to omelettes.


If you are needing support to improve you health, you have come to the right place. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are a gentle and relaxing therapy to help you be strong and well again, as it has done for many people.

At Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Auckland, expect the best holistic health consultation, tailored treatment and advice with 8 years experience treating fertility, amenorrhoea and blood deficiency with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Contact Ilana on 020 4159 8393 or info@ilanasowter.com to book. Skype consultations available for international clients.

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