When a patient has symptoms of a pale tongue, low energy, pallor, fatigue and muscular weakness, I tend to suspect a deficiency of qi and blood. My favorite food-medicine for less severe qi & blood deficiencies is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in iron, fats, fiber and xanthines like caffeine and theobromine. High quality dark chocolates with 70%+ cocoa solids are ideal. This percentage guarantees that you’ll get a significant amount of dense mineral nutrition. I believe that the iron and fats of dark chocolate are good for building blood, while the xanthines help to move blood and increase energy. The fiber itself is good for the regulating the intestinal system, improving bowel movements and any stasis in the middle jiao. When the intestines are clean, there are less toxins proliferating in the colon. This reduces autoimmune activity, improving energy reserves.
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains (1):
- 11 grams of fiber.
- 67% of the RDA for Iron.
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
- 89% of the RDA for Copper.
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Qi relates to the fundamental energy we are born with and the caloric energy that we generate as we consume & metabolize food, as well as the oxygen we breathe. Blood is the fluid of the heart, and is responsible for nourishing & moistening the muscles, tendons and other body tissues. There is a saying that “blood is the mother of qi.” This could be likened to the fact that blood relies on iron, which is needed for oxygen transfer throughout the body. Symptoms of hypoxia can arise in anemic persons, as the lack of iron could inhibit qi from reaching the distal extremities. Qi moves blood, so if there is a lack of one, it feeds into the pathos of the other.
Iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to cells all over the body. Once the oxygen is delivered, iron then helps red blood cells carry carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs to be exhaled. Iron also plays a role in many important chemical reactions in the body.
If blood isn’t moving, then that means the erythrocytes (red blood cells) are sitting around with lots of carbon dioxide… Perhaps this leads to inflammation, pain and autoimmune reactions in tissues, from muscles to bones. I believe Qi gong, tuina, reiki, acupuncture and herbal therapies could really benefit the person who is fatigued due to blood disorders like this. The vibrational, energetic and manual therapies can help to move the blood, and the herbal and nutritional therapies could restore the person’s qi and blood.
Cacao beans (an herb nonetheless).
So, choose any dark chocolate you like, and let your blood cells rejoice.