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How Tonifying your Blood can Improve your Gut Health

Before you get turned off by the fact that I just titled this article "tonifying your blood", let me enlighten you with the eastern medicinal practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Since May 2023, I have been working with a naturopathic doctor, who incorporates TCM practices into my healing protocol. One lifechanging concept she brought to me was the idea of nourishing or tonifying your blood. We'll work through exactly what that means, how to do it, and why it could be an important step in your gut healing journey.

What do you mean by "Tonifying your Blood"?!

After three months of antimicrobials and changing my diet (again) to align with my health goals, I found that I was often fatigued: I felt weak, had low energy, and got bouts of dizziness any time I stood up. I also continued to deal with chronic constipation and bloating, despite moving into the second phase of my SIBO repair journey.

When bringing this to my naturopath, she dove into blood deficiencies through the lenses of TCM. This could be the reason why I felt so fatigued.

It may sound a bit off to have a blood deficiency. Like, if you're not anemic, why would you even need to worry how your blood is "nourished" or find ways to tonify and cleanse it?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, blood does not mean the same thing as the blood flowing through your veins right now. Instead, it is an "essence" along with Qi, or energy, that contributes to the overall vitality and health of a person. It is not made of red blood cells but instead is formulated from the foods that we eat.

Try not to think of a horror film when I talk about blood through this blog and instead think of it as an energy for nourishing our organs and tissue. And ultimately, improving our gut health!

In fact, let's call this process "tonifying".

Tonifying and How to Know if You Need It

Tonifying is the process that allows Qi to flow through our body. We want Qi to flow freely and easily, and not be imbalanced or blocked. If it is, it may lead to aliments and illnesses (like digestive issues).

You may need to help your body tonify if you have deficiencies or stagnation. These deficiencies can be caused by poor nutrient absorption - as often experienced by those struggling with SIBO or Leaky Gut - excessive exercise, or even overthinking and stress. They can lead to symptoms like a pale complexion, visual spots (like when you stand up and see just bright, white spots), light-headedness, weight loss, dry or thinning hair, dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, and headaches/fatigue.

When these symptoms are present, you want to align your diet and lifestyle to promote the tonifying process. This will translate to a healthy balance of Qi, which leads to a happy and healthy gut!

Who wouldn't want that?!

With the proper practices, you can reverse the aforementioned symptoms when you are on your healing journey.

Why Tonifying is Important to Gut Health

If you have digestive issues, you know that they stretch way beyond irregular bowel movements. Chronic gut health issues like IBS and IBD can lead to a slew of physical and mental symptoms. Despite the fact that your bowels are changing, and you bloat after every meal, you may also find yourself chronically tired, have acne or rosacea, and are more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression.

This can all be tied back to the gut-brain connection, and how our gut health can impact nearly every system in our body, including our mental health. Additionally, changes to your gut microbiome can lead to increased inflammation, presented in one form by acne, and hormonal imbalances.

Pretty much, all of these bodily systems are connected. When you are struggling with digestive issues, low-grade inflammation, and hormonal imbalances (usually all interconnected) tonifying your blood can reduce symptoms by allowing Qi to flow freely.

This is one way to see how tonifying can help you on your healing journey.

If you are already on your gut healing journey, you may come across periods where your symptoms get worse before they get better. When you are treating a bacterial (SIBO, H. Pylori) or yeast overgrowth (Candida) as a root cause of your digestive issues, these microorganisms can make your symptoms even worse when they are dying off.

Known as die-off symptoms, it is literally from these microorganisms dying off. This can lead to a temporary increase in toxins within your body.

While temporary, these symptoms suck just as much. Die-off symptoms can be similar to blood deficiency symptoms: digestive issues, skin reactions, increased fatigue, and headaches.

By tonifying, you can help reduce the impact of die-off symptoms by supporting your body's natural detoxification process; ensuring there are little to no blockages along the way.

How to Start Tonifying

There are different ways to tonify your blood through food and simple lifestyle changes. You don't have to do all of these at once, but if you do suspect you have a deficiency, you can slowly incorporate these changes to see if they improve your symptoms!


I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before you incorporate any diet/lifestyle changes. I only share these tips to provide full transparency around my gut healing journey!


Diet Considerations

There are many foods and herbal formulations you can look for to help tonify your blood. Since "blood" in TCM comes from the food that we eat, the best thing to do is make sure you are nourishing your body properly through food!

We can't be perfect all the time (balance is key, ladies, let's not forget), but you can start examining your current diet. Eating super processed, refined, and fatty foods 75% of the time is probably not going to make you feel the most nourished.

Eating a diet rich of whole, organic foods and minimally processed ingredients can help tonify your blood.

If your diet is already balanced, there are additional foods and herbal formulations you can incorporate to help tonify your blood. Foods like dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, and kale), red beets, bone broth and stock, and meats, like red meat and liver can help. If you are vegetarian, beans and legumes also work great! Jujube, or red dates, and goji berries are recommended for their high vitamin and mineral content.

The key is looking for nutrient-dense foods, rich in iron, vitamin B, protein, and antioxidants! They will be the best in helping to tonify.

My naturopath shared this Energizing Goji Berry & Jujube Wellness Tonic that is perfect for incorporating jujube and goji berries into your diet. The warm tea is packed with Vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants. Definitely give it a shot - I have noticed a huge increase in my energy since drinking one cup a day!

If you want to incorporate herbal formulations, I listed a few below. Most are rich in iron, a key nutrient in tonifying.

  • Parsley - An iron rich herb, you can easily incorporate parsley in soups and salads, and as a garnish to tonify.

  • Alfalfa - These sprouts can be topped on salad or your fav avocado toast for another high-dose of vitamins.

  • Spirulina - A nutrient-dense algae, you can find it available as a powder to add to your smoothies or in a capsule form.

  • Nettle, Red Clover, Dandelion, Rose Hips - These dried herbs make the perfect hot tea. Rich in iron and other nutrients, you can find the dried herbs at your local health food store for loose leaf tea, or in the tea aisle.

Lifestyle Considerations

While food will be your best bet in helping to tonify your blood, there are some lifestyle changes you can consider helping your body reach a balanced Qi.


Acupuncture has been one of my favorite TCM practices. The minute those thin needles are delicately placed on specific points of the body known as meridians, you instantly feel a wave of calmness and relaxation. I would always sleep through my hour-long sessions, and they truly did help with my stress levels and digestive symptoms!

Incorporating acupuncture regularly can help remove stagnation and stimulate the flow of Qi - basically supporting blood tonification.

If you are struggling with any blood deficiencies, acupuncture can be tailored to alleviate these.

For instance, dealing with chronic constipation I would get acupuncture on meridian points associated with my stomach (which, surprisingly, is below your kneecap), to help the supply of blood in my body.


Stress Management


When it comes to holistic health and Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is just the tip of the iceberg! I encourage you to dive deeper into alternative ways of healing when on your own gut/hormonal healing journey. You'll be surprised at the power of our bodies and minds!

And if you have any experience or tips on this experience, please share your story below!





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Welcome! If you made it here, you are probably looking for answers on where to begin your wellness journey. I'm Jessica, and I started my gut health journey over 3 years ago. As an avid foodie and wellness enthusiast, I hope to inspire you on your realistic wellness journey.

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