Building Blood by Strengthening the Spleen

Traditional Chinese medicine places a strong emphasis on the efficient functioning of the spleen in order to receive the maximum benefit from food. There are several simple but important factors that help to nourish Spleen qi.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, lifestyle factors can also weaken the spleen.  The spleen is most affected by chronic worry, anxiety, overthinking, overeating greasy foods, sweet foods, dairy products, and being sedentary.

Foods that are raw or cold are harder for the Spleen to digest. For those with a weak Spleen, it is best to eat foods that are warm and cooked. Cold taxes the spleen’s digestive function and our body has to work so much harder to first warm up what has been ingested before it can start breaking it down so it can be absorbed. The strength of your digestive system’s ability to successfully obtain the nutrients from your food is necessary for the production of blood. Foods that build blood are:

Grains Barley, polenta, oats, rice, sweet rice, wheat, amaranth, millet
Vegetables Alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, cabbage, celery, dandelion leaf, dark leafy greens, kelp, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, watercress, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, avocado
Fruit Apples, apricots, dates, figs, red grapes, red cherries, red apples, peaches plums, dried fruit such as raisins
Beans Adzuki beans, black beans, kidney beans
Nuts and seeds Almonds, black sesame, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame, walnuts
Fish Mussels, octopus, oysters, sardines, tuna, trout, salmon
Meat Poultry, lamb, beef, venison, bone marrow, liver, eggs
Herbs, spices Nettle, parsley, aniseed, fennel, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon
Beverages Non-dairy milk, non-caffeinated teas, bone broth
Common supplements Floradix, blackstrap molasses

Examples of common meals containing foods that can build blood include:

  • Rice porridges (jook/congee) with non-dairy milk, apricots, raisins and almonds
  • Dark leafy green salads with warm chicken or steak, and avocado
  • Scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and parsley
  • Beef or chicken pho
  • Snacks of jerky, dried apricots, raisins, almonds, walnuts
  • Lamb chops with polenta and sautéed spinach
  • Taco bowl with black beans, rice, ground beef/chicken/turkey, kale and avocado
  • Any red meat dish. (In traditional Chinese medicine meat is viewed as a highly nourishing food that should be consumed in small amounts. Serving sizes are based around two to four ounces per serving, taken several times a week.)

Adapted from “Blood Deficiency,” by Debra Betts author of “The essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth” © 2006 Website

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