Understanding what Xue is in Chinese Medicine

What is Xue?

The concept of Blood (Xue) as it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory comprises a host of different meanings, actions and effects than they way the term is commonly understood in western medicine. Chinese medicine states that the Blood is a dense form of body fluids that have been acted upon and enegized by Qi. The Blood of Chinese medicine flows both within the blood vessels as well as within the meridians, as it has a synergistic relationship with Qi. From a clinical perspective, these relationships indicate a broad spectrum of influences that must be considered when forming a TCM diagnosis. While conditions such as uterine bleeding have more obvious links to the Blood, an unsteady mind as it may arise in such conditions as depression and anxiety may also be strongly related.

Basic Formation of Blood

  • There are two separate cycles of Blood formation in the body. The Post-heaven Qi cycle uses Foods and Fluids (Gu Qi) to form Blood and the pre-heaven cycle uses Yuan Qi and the Kidneys to produce marrow which produces Blood.
  • The Blood is circulated by the Heart and stored by the Liver.

Functions of Blood in the Body

  • Moistens and provides nourishment to the organs, bones, muscles, tendons and skin.
  • With Qi, provides the foundation for mental activity.


  • Xue (blood) nourishes and refreshes the body and mind. It is considered relatively yin. When xue-blood is deficient there is listlessness, fatigue, emaciation, dryness of skin and hair, poor memory and difficulty concentrating, mental restlessness and insomnia. When xue-blood is in excess, it pools and stagnates, causing stasis. This stasis leads to obstruction and severe pain, such as in trauma and thrombosis. (Note that xue in excess does not literally mean that there is more blood in the body, but that is has stagnated and pooled in one place in the body.) (Xue is pronounced “shway” and rhymes with “stay.”)

To find out more about the key concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine, click on the links below…

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About Kimberley

Kimberley, Acupuncturist and Clinic Director at Life + Lemons, is a registered TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) Acupuncturist, passionate about helping women reclaim their feminine edge. After graduating with a First Class Honors in York, she has undertaken specialist training in the area of pain management, natural conception, IVF support, menopause + pelvic pain (endometriosis/dysmenorrhea).