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Exploring the medical and scientific background of blood drinking
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
 
Copyright 2005
by Sarah Mediv 
  All Rights reserved 
  E-Mail: s_faolchu@yahoo.com
Common Arguments and Rebuttals
1. Sanguinarians feed on energy in blood.
      This is the equivalent of saying you only eat dinner for the "energy". While true is a general esoteric sense, the metabolic fuel it provides in terms of protiens, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are far more important. Metaphysics will be discussed no further on these pages.

2. There is no nutritional value in blood.
      False. There is an incredible amount of nutritional value in blood. Basic protiens are present as well as circulating vitamins and minerals. All in a pre-digested, easy to absorb formula. Blood has been a staple of nutrition in many countries both for humans and animals. In tribes where food is scarce, cattle are bled for the nutritional value and the blood is mixed with milk. "Blood meal" is a common additive to many animal feeds because of the condensed nature of its nutritional value. You can get a lot of benefit from a small amount. We even use it in gardening for nitrogen source to plants! Russia has a candy bar intended for health and protien called "Hematogen" where the main ingrediant is cow's blood.

3. Blood cannot be digested.
     False. See above. Were it undigestable, we would not use it in our own food. The iron content of blood is high enough that we often pass it after large (over 70ml) quanitities of ingestion resulting in the black, tarry stool called melena. However, that does not mean the body has not absorbed and utilized the other protiens and amino acids present.

4. Sanguinarians do not drink enough blood to get anything from it.
     Quanitity is not a measure of necessity. Most sanguinarians would drink a cup or more to feel at their best and remove the secondary symptoms the longest. The body does not need many of the basic building blocks in large quantities to function at peak.
        Take the following examples:
           Thyroid hormone (Thyroxine): Taken at average levels of 25-100 micrograms per day if you are hypothyroid. (1/1000000 th of a gram)
           Insulin: 0.5-0.8 Units/kg/day produced (37.5-60 Units per day for 75 kg person), only 8-11 microUnits needed circulating. (1/1000000th of a Unit). Insulin dose for people depends on person and diet, so there is no average, but typical reports around 30-60 Units per day.
        More examples of "less is more"
           Digoxin (heart medication): Dosed at 125-500 micrograms. Toxic death at 10mg. Derived from Foxglove, eating one leaf can be enough to cause death in a person.
           Rattlesnake venom: Small quantities of enzymes and neurotoxins in small drops of venom, yet enough to cause death in an average 88.6kg male.

5. Blood is an emetic and will make you throw up.
        While I cannot dispute the anectdotal evidence and what is taught in First Aid and medical response courses everywhere I can say blood does not make EVERYONE vomit. There was actually a study done in 1939 looking at the quantity of blood required to produce melena. In this study medical students drank their own blood and determined the amount required (happens to be 70-80ml) to produce melena. Interestingly, though he synopsis of the study is very short, there is NO mention of any of the subjects vomiting after drinking any of the required amounts. This says volume may have a role to play. As we know, drinking large quantities of anything can, and will, induce emesis. Look up "Gallon of Milk Challenge" for proof of this, as I doubt anyone will claim milk is an emetic, yet here are people vomiting after drinking milk.
        Looking at the reasons a typical person has blood in thier stomach is also a factor: stomach ulcers are painful and can induce nausea on thier own, bleeding ulcers then add the blood. Trauma leading to stomach tears or esophageal damage and bleeding into the upper GI leading to emesis.

6. Everything in blood is also found in various foods.
       This assumes that its presence in the food means it is digestable and absorbable. Even in a normal person, there are forms of protiens and minerals that are more usable than others. If we take Iron as an example, it can be found in several forms but let us consider just two: Heme and non-heme. Heme iron would be found in red meat (and blood) and is more highly absorbed and utilized than non-heme, or plant based Iron. In a body with abnormalities of the intestinal tract there may be impared breakdown and absorption, particularly of protiens. Protiens are not typically absorbed whole though the lining of the GI but rather broken down by various enzymes and then absorbed. A body lacking one or more of those enzymes would be unable to properly break down the food and thus unable to absorb and utilize some, if not all, of the protiens. Examples would include lactase deficiency causing failure to break down and use lactose, Pancreatic Enzyme Deficiency results in impared ability to break down and utilize fats, and B12 Intrinsic factor deficieny, which prevents absorption of Vitamin B12. Also, inflammation of the intestinal tract would impare absorption of many nutritional components including vitamins, minerals, fats, and protiens.
References:

Hematogen Candy Bar: http://www.homeapteka.com/productdetail.asp?productid=5954

Daniel, W.A. and Sherman Egan. "The Quantity of Blood Required to Produce a Tarry Stool" JAMA. 1939;113(25):2232-2232.