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Blood Health in Cats & Dogs


Depending on whether blood is being viewed from an allopathic medicine or a TCM perspective determines how one approaches the health and maintenance of blood.

In western medicine, blood is seen more as a function or workhorse for red and white blood cells, hormones, carrying oxygen, supporting the systems and organs in the body, etc. Whereas in Traditional Chinese Medicine, blood is considered nutrition for the whole body system. Blood is yin, and the main functions of blood are to keep the body moist and nourished so blood can connect and infuse the meridians, organs, muscles, and tissues and replenish essence. 

Formation of Blood 

The formation of blood stems from two main essences. The first essence is Jing, which comes from the origin of life. Jing is innate life substance made up of tangible and nutrient substances from both parents. Jing is stored in the kidneys (also known as "pre-heaven") and works with the kidney (Original Qi) the liver and bone marrow to produce and transform this essence in to blood. The other essence is Qi, which is the stomach and spleen (also known as the "root of post-heaven") and is considered to be the main source of blood, using both food and drink to extract energy and transform in to blood.

The stomach digests food and the spleen transforms it into nutrients or food essence (Gu Qi). Food essence (Gu Qi / (nutrients) is pushed upwards to the lungs, and heart and converted into blood with the help of Original Qi from the kidneys. The spleen also has the responsibility of transforming and transporting Qi, which is vital energy that provides the essence for life activities as it keeps the systems of the body functioning correctly.  

The Spleen and Kidney make blood using both Gu Qi (food essence) and Original Qi. These along with Vital Qi, are fundamental sources of nourishment and life for the entire body to be distributed by the meridian system to the Zang-fu organs.

Blood Circulation

The formation of blood by the spleen and kidneys are supported by the heart to move blood and the liver which stores blood. But in TCM Qi, Blood and Body Fluid are deeply interconnected.

Qi is the vital energetic force for the entire body and the driving force for blood to be able to circulate around the body. The heart, lungs, and liver transport Qi whilst the spleen and liver hold Qi. 

Qi and blood are so intertwined they are inseparable, as blood nourishes those organs that produce Qi, whilst at the same time, Qi helps create and circulate blood. Blood is Yin, Qi is Yang.

Blood and Qi are then interwoven with Body Fluid, which is associated with the organs that separate out the fluids that need to remain in the body for further nourishment from those that need to be excreted from the body.

Function of Blood

As mentioned above, blood is yin, and is considered a dense form of Qi. The main functions of blood are to keep the body moist and nourished so blood can connect and infuse the meridians, organs, and vessels.

Blood along with Qi and Body Fluid also impacts Shen, which is the spirit. Shen incorporates vitality, involves physiological functions, and mental activity so includes the health of, for example, cognitive function, emotional well-being, etc.

Disharmony with either blood, Qi, or body fluid becomes the primary cause of dis-ease that leads to pathological conditions.

Pathological Conditions

When blood, Qi, or body fluid are not in harmony it can cause a whole cascade of problems affecting the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of your pet as things are no longer in flow. 

Any issues with Qi, blood, and body fluid patterns are the primary cause that creates an effect. Unless the effect can be resolved it causes a manifestation of symptoms that present outwardly. For example, a Qi deficiency can cause a Qi stagnation that could present as gastrointestinal problems such as intermittent vomiting, diarrhoea, or malnutrition

Alternatively, a blood deficiency may show up through symptoms such as joint stiffness, dry hair, flaky skin, etc. Or a deficiency may impact Shen and present as anxiety or cognitive dysfunction. This is where allopathic veterinary medicine falls down in the care of animals as it only deals with outwardly presenting symptoms rather than addressing the root cause, resolving the issue, and then bringing blood, Qi, and body fluid all back into harmony.

  • When Qi is out of balance the effect can be described in terms of deficiency, stagnation, rebellious, or sinking.
  • Imbalances with the blood pathologically can be described as deficiency, heat, cold, or hemorrhage.
  • Disharmony with body fluid can include internal dryness, edema, or phlegm. 
Source Xie's Chinese Veterinary Herbology

Blood Health

Diet plays a huge role in the health of blood. Food and drink impact spleen Qi and what nutrients (food essence) the spleen can use to transform into blood, and use for the function of keeping blood in flow. 

If Qi is in flow, blood will follow. If Qi is stagnant, blood will congeal. Remember, blood and Qi are inseparable so without a nourishing blood supply that also supports the flow of Qi and body fluids, your cat and dog move into presenting health problems that show symptoms of dis-ease.

The wrong type of diet means the poor transformation of food essence (nutrients) in to blood, and the inability for blood to properly circulate throughout the body. A poor diet or non sepcies appropriate diet, impacts the entire body by interrupting Qi, the perfect flow between the meridians, the yin organs and yang organs, muscle, tissues, and vessels that all support good health and vitality.

Feeding your cat and dog a species appropriate diet, raw food, is essential to their health and longevity due to the enormous influence food has on the spleen for the production of blood, and the flow of Qi.

"The blood is the life, and without perfect blood, health is impossible".

by George Carey

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Xie's Chinese Veterinary Herbology
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Tuesday, July 05 2022

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