Blood tonics are used to “nourish the blood” in diseases caused by blood deficiency. Common symptoms of “empty” blood ailments are a sallow complexion, pale lips, colorless fingernails, dizziness, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations, absent- mindedness, insomnia, etc. Dysmenorrhoea is an additional symptom in women.
When blood deficiency appears together with energy deficiency, both energy and blood tonics should be applied in therapy. If yin-deficiency is also indicated, yin-tonics are used as well. Basically blood tonics and yin tonics have similar effects, the former being more specific to the blood and the latter generally affecting the entire body.
Blood tonics are generally moist and “sticky” by nature. Many have high oil and moisture content. Those patients suffering from stagnation, abdominal oppression, and poor ap- petite due to damp-excess should use them sparingly. If the spleen is “empty,” combine blood tonics with stomachic and digestive herbs.
Natural distribution: Northern China.
Parts used: Roots (steamed).
Nature: Sweet; slightly warm.
Effects: Tonic to blood; nourishes yin; hemostatic.
Indications: Blood deficiency: dizziness, heart palpitations, insomnia, dysmenorrhoea; menorrhagia; kidney-yin deficiency: nocturnal sweats, spermatorrhoea, diabetes.
Dosage: 10-30 g.
Remarks: The fresh root is refrigerant to blood and nourishes yin (see Antipyretics, page 00); the steamed root is exclusively used to tonify blood and nourish yin.
Natural distribution: Southwestern China, Japan, Taiwan.
Parts used: Roots, stems and leaves.
Nature: Bitter and sour; slightly warm.
Effects: Tonic to liver and kidneys; nourishes blood and semen; demulcent laxative; antidote.
Indications: Blood deficiency: sallow complexion, dizziness, insomnia, premature greying of hair; kidney deficiency: lumbago, weak bone, sinew and cartilage; constipation due to dry intestines; swelling of lymph glands; abscesses and ulcers.
Dosage: 7-15 g.
Remarks: Contemporary usage shows the drug to be effective against high blood pressure and hardening of the veins and arteries.
Natural distribution: Central China.
Parts used: Roots.
Nature: Sweet and pungent; warm.
Effects: Tonic to blood; emennagogue; promotes circulation; analgesic; sedative; laxative.
Indications: Menstrual disorders: dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, amenorrhoea; blood deficiency: painful scarring in traumatic injuries, post- natal abdominal pain; rheumatic pains.
Dosage: 10-15 g.
Remarks: This is the most important drug for menstrual disorders.
Natural distribution: World-wide.
Parts used: Glue prepared from the hides.
Nature: Sweet; neutral.
Effects: Tonic to blood; hemostatic; nourishes yin; demulcent to lungs..
Indications: Blood deficiency: sallow complexion, dizziness, heart palpitations, blood in urine, stool, or sputum, menorrhagia; insomnia and restlessness of heat excess.
Dosage: 10-15 g.
Natural distribution: Southern China, Japan.
Parts used: Dried flesh of the fruits.
Nature: Sweet; warm
Effects: Cardio-tonic; sedative; tonic to blood: digestive.
Indications: Heart and spleen deficiency; absent-mindedness; insomnia; heart palpitations; weakness, fatigue due to blood deficiency.
Dosage: 10-15 g.
Remarks: The kernels are ground to powder and applied as a styptic to abscesses, sores, wounds, etc.