5 Ways Blood Stagnation Can Impact Your Health
The Blood: Two Perspectives
Our blood is responsible for circulating oxygen and nutrients to every cell of the body, as well as bringing warmth, and removing metabolic waste products. Western Medicine recognizes the importance of the blood; many tests and diagnoses require that blood be drawn, measured, examined, and analyzed.
The tests and analyses of Western Medicine are predominantly concerned with quantities. Reports come back from the lab, and your doctor can interpret the numbers (red blood cell count, white blood cell count, clotting time, sedimentation rate, etc) to determine a diagnosis.
Whereas Western Medicine is predominantly concerned with quantities, Chinese Medicine is predominantly concerned with qualities. A qualitative analysis of the blood does not focus on lab results, but, rather, the subjective sensations of the individual. In Chinese Medicine, how well the person feels can be used as an indicator of how well their blood is doing its many jobs.
The Chinese Blood Test
Chinese Medicine is among the oldest medical systems that are still in use today. It has been used for centuries, and has been an effective medical system since long before the microscope was conceived. Chinese Medical Doctors did not have access to blood tests and lab reports, and instead learned and studied other subtle clues to make their diagnosis. A major component of Chinese Medicine is pulse diagnosis.
Feeling the pulse is a skill that takes years to accurately hone. With practice, though, the Chinese Medical Doctor can gather a lot of information about a person’s state of being from the pulse alone. Besides assessing common aspects of the pulse such as the rate and rhythm, Chinese Medical Doctors also detect more subtle qualities, such as the width and depth of the vessel, the ease of blood flow, and information about different internal organ systems.
What is Blood Stasis?
Since the blood has so many important jobs to do to keep us alive and well, the quality of blood flow in the body is one of the most important aspects of health. There is a term unique to Chinese Medicine, “Blood Stasis,” which describes a situation where the blood isn’t moving as well as it should be, and is often stuck.
5 Signs of Blood Stasis
Any one of these signs is evidence that your blood isn’t moving as well as it could be.
1. Old injuries that linger
When the body experiences trauma, such as a sports injury, car accident, or surgery, the blood vessels often break, and blood escapes into the intercellular fluid. Even though we may eventually heal from the initial trauma, the blood that has leaked out has a very hard time being reabsorbed by the body. This blood becomes static, can congeal, and cause lingering pain. Imagine tiny scabs trapped inside your body.
2 Purple marks on the body or distended veins
The veins are in charge or returning used blood back to the heart to be recirculated. Often times, the veins become weak, especially in the legs. Vericose veins and spider veins are clear signs that the blood isn’t moving well, pooling in the vessels and becoming static. Any purple markings on the body are also an indicator of Blood Stasis. In Chinese Medicine, the underside of the tongue is inspected, and if the sublingual veins are swollen and purple, Blood Stasis is often suspected.
3. Sharp Pain
Blood Stasis often causes sharp pain. This could be in the site of a new or old injury, a headache due to poor circulation, or even menstrual cramps. Often, diseases like PCOS or endometriosis have a major Blood Stasis component.
4. Cold Extremities or Poor Circulation
The Blood brings warmth to the body. Many cases of cold hands and feet are due to blood not circulating well. Many women experience this condition.
5. Depression or Emotional Trauma
In Chinese Medicine, the blood is believed to be related to the spirit, since it comes from the heart. New blood brings vitality to every cell of the body, including the brain. Proper blood flow is important for mood, and a healthy Spirit.
Many times those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past not only have blood stasis from the injuries, but also emotional damage that can linger on for a long time if left unadressed.
How do we get the blood moving well again?
Many people are unaware that Chinese Medicine developed alongside the Martial Arts. Due to the nature of training, many people sustained injuries that were quite severe. Over the ages, Chinese Medical Doctors have become expert at Acupuncture techniques and Herbal Medicine formulas to help the body recover from Blood Stasis. There is even a sub-branch of Chinese Herbal Medicine called “Hit Medicine.”
Blood Stasis is a concept unique to Chinese Medicine. Although it is an ancient concept, it comes up in our modern lives all the time. Whether due to a sports injury, surgery, menstrual problems, childhood trauma, poor circulation, or simply aging, Chinese Medicine can treat Blood Stasis to keep it from affecting your health.