Blood Stasis (血与)

Blood stasis is an impairment or cessation of the normal free flow of blood, the vital substance that cools, moistens, and nourishes the whole body. Blood stasis can result from traumatic injury (accidents, blows, etc.), significant blood loss (even that which occurs in small amounts over a long period), or any other TCM defined pathology which inhibits or impedes the free flow of blood, such as qi stagnation, qi vacuity, blood cold, or bleed heat.

Clinically, blood stasis manifests in several ways including pain, abdominal masses (e.g., uterine fibroids or certain types of cysts), uterine bleeding wherein blood extravasates (leaks / permeates) the blood vessels. Stabbing, fixed, focal pain is a key symptom of blood stasis. When visible (as with a knock, fall, or strike to the body), there will be swelling and discoloration or bruising that is blueish-purple or an odd greenish-yellow. Because blood stasis is typically accompanied by poor fluid circulation, there may be localized edema.

When blood stasis develops internally (not uncommonly in the female reproductive organs) such that static blood accumulates, there may be concretions or conglomerations which evolve to a blood mass (such as various types of gynecological masses). Menstrual bleeding characterized by frequent and/or large dark purple clots associated with fixed, stabbing pain is highly indicative of a blood stasis pattern.

Blood stasis is often associated with aging. As we age, the turgor and integrity of our blood vessels may diminish. Similarly, obstructions such as arterial plaque accumulate over a lifetime. Both of these adversely affect blood flow.
Clinical signs of blood stasis can include a dark or sooty complexion. Distended sublingual tongue veins, spider nevi or varicosities and other skin signs such as purplish macules or signs of subcutaneous bleeding.

Severe or enduring (chronic) blood stasis patterns may be associated with Western medicine cardiovascular disorders, hepatosplenomegaly, various menstrual disorders, heterotopic pregnancy (simultaneous ectopic pregnancy and intrauterine pregnancy), or post-partum disorders.

Treatment of blood stasis patterns can involve either acupuncture or Chinese herbal formulas (or both), depending on cause and the affected region of the body. Formulas are typically selected from the stasis-dispelling, blood-quickening category.

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