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  • Writer's pictureDr. Angela Palmer

Blood, the stuff of life!

The circulation of blood through our arteries and veins is one of the most important aspects of a healthy physiology. After all it is blood, via iron (metal) that takes vital oxygen from the air we breathe to every living cell in our bodies (smokers take note!); carries all the nutrients absorbed from food in solute form to each and every cell and at the same time keeping our extremities warm. It also must, via veins and lymph, carry away what we no longer need to the organs of filtration and removal being the kidneys and the lungs and skin. A lot of work for a system of irrigation channels!

Now consider the problems that can arise if your circulation of not going so well. You may feel cold, or just maybe your hands and feet are cold, you may get tired with lack of oxygen and nutrients getting to the cells as quickly as it’s utilised. Or you may feel a little ‘toxic’ with skin eruptions or have little visible spider veins on your face and varicose veins on legs. Wounds may be slow to heal, or you may be getting frequent headaches or difficulty concentrating. when blood is obstructed it causes pain, that’s why we rub ourselves when we hurt ourselves; to move the blood along and it feels good. Long term blood stasis causes stabbing pain that needs treatment to move the blood on a deeper level.

Chinese Medicine practitioners call this blood stasis. Western medicine also agrees and many drugs that treat pain also reduce blood co-agulation such as aspirin (originally extracted from the bark of the Willow tree) and paracetamol. This is why if you take such drugs long term there may be bleeding or difficulty clotting when you cut yourself.

Blood circulation is literally so important that we use our blood tests to see how all our organs are performing, and tests that look at blood lipids(fats) are taken to see if there is a likelihood of excess bad low density cholesterol that can clog arteries and lead to heart disease by obstructing blood flow. This is important, and it is also important to understand the overall quality and consistency of your blood.

Many factors can influence your blood; diet, level of physical exercise, how healthy your liver is (the liver regulates blood flow) as well as inherit genes from your family.

This is not an area for self diagnosis! There are drugs and herbs on the market that do assist with circulation in a number of ways, but they can interact with each other, or simply not be right for your purpose, as always, the causes must always be assessed by a professional health practitioner.

There are things you can do however. First and foremost MOVE! Exercise is the most valuable thing…dance, do yoga, or even do some jogging and star jumps. Feel your body warm as you circulate that blood! Also have a warm bath if you can, if not then warm you feet in a tub of warm water with a handful of salt. You’ll feel warm all over and sleep better too.

Finally eat well, especially warm cooked foods like soups and stews with plenty of root vegetables. and lots and lots of greens. leafy greens are full on iron, minerals and are vital for the blood. Marrow is what makes blood so in soups, adding bones with marrow will help such as lamb shank, whole free range chicken and osso bucco and bone broth with collagen and B12. B12 is vital for iron absorption so if you are having trouble absorbing iron then get you levels checked and take a B12 supplement, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. Nourish your blood so it can nourish you and if you have any concerns speak to your health practitioner.

Until next time

Stay Well

Dr Angela Palmer

Chinese Medicine.

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