Anemia is a common health issue that arises from a lack of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. In Chinese medicine, anemia can result from a variety of imbalances, such as heart-spleen deficiency, liver-kidneys yin deficiency, and spleen-kidneys yang deficiency. This article will discuss the symptoms associated with each deficiency, as well as the corresponding Chinese herbal formulas and dietary recommendations to alleviate anemia.

  1. Heart-Spleen Deficiency

Symptoms of heart-spleen deficiency include abdominal swelling, bleeding symptoms, watery and thin stools, dizziness, eating very little, fatigue, forgetfulness, impotence, low voice, nervousness, night sweats, palpitations, poor appetite, shortness of breath, sleeplessness, and a withering, yellowish complexion.

To strengthen the spleen and heart and to tone the blood and energy, the herbal formula Gui-Pi-Tang is recommended. Incorporating foods rich in iron and other nutrients, such as beef liver, chicken egg, cuttlefish, oyster, pork liver, sea cucumber, water spinach, longan nut, mandarin fish, apple cucumber, chestnut, horse bean, Job's-tears, Irish potato, rice, royal jelly, and yam, can also help alleviate anemia caused by heart-spleen deficiency.

  1. Liver-Kidneys Yin Deficiency

Symptoms of liver-kidneys yin deficiency include difficulty in both defecation and urination, dizziness, dry eyes or throat, fatigue, headache with pain in the brow, lumbago, night blindness, night sweats, pain in the upper abdomen, palms of hands and soles of feet being hot, red eyes, ringing in the ears, sleeplessness with forgetfulness, weak loins and tibia, withering complexion, and tender and red zygomatic regions on both sides.

The herbal formula Gui-Shao-Di-Huang-Tang is recommended to water the liver yin and kidney yin, as well as to nourish the blood and strengthen the essence of the kidneys. Foods that can help alleviate liver-kidneys yin deficiency anemia include bird's nest, cheese, chicken egg, kidney bean, brown sugar, mussel, abalone, asparagus, chicken egg, cuttlefish, duck, duck egg, white fungus, oyster, pork, royal jelly, chestnut, chicken liver, and pork kidneys.

  1. Spleen-Kidneys Yang Deficiency

Symptoms of spleen-kidneys yang deficiency include cold hands and feet, cold loins, diarrhea before dawn, sticky and muddy diarrhea, eating very little, edema, fatigue, fear of cold, weakness in the four limbs, frequent urination with clear or white urine, mental fatigue, pale complexion, palpitations, poor appetite, puffy face, and sputum rumbling with panting.

The herbal formula Ren-Shen-Yang-Ying-Tang is recommended to strengthen the spleen and kidneys, as well as to tone the energy and blood. Foods that can help alleviate spleen-kidneys yang deficiency anemia include air bladder of shark, chicken, cayenne pepper, fennel, nutmeg, black and white pepper, prickly ash, mutton, sword bean, white or yellow mustard, kidney, lobster, sardine, shrimp, sparrow, clove, dill seed, fennel, pistachio nut, sparrow egg, crab apple, raspberry, and walnut.


Chinese medicine offers unique insights into the various underlying causes of anemia, as well as targeted treatment strategies to address these deficiencies. By understanding the specific symptoms and deficiencies associated with heart-spleen, liver-kidneys yin, and spleen-kidneys yang imbalances, individuals can work with a qualified practitioner to find the appropriate herbal formulas and dietary recommendations to alleviate their anemia.

It is important to note that while Chinese medicine can be a powerful adjunct therapy for anemia, it should be used in conjunction with conventional medical care and under the guidance of a healthcare professional experienced in both Chinese and Western medicine. By combining the best of both worlds, patients can achieve a comprehensive, holistic approach to managing anemia and improving their overall health and well-being.