There is still very much to learn about the human body, and most specifically about sanguinarians. Why we do what we do, and why it works. This is written from my own research, trying to link it all together. So, here are my attempts of scratching the surface.
The details are subject to change or be added to over time, and I most likely will have many parts. Feel free to comment with additional information or critiques. I am not an expert, and I’m not educated or trained in the medical field. If you think you have a skill-set that would be beneficial to this research feel free to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Historical Precedents of Similar Conditions and Treatment
We often wonder has there ever been historical evidence of blood drinking for the same purpose as modern sanguinarians? To keep or maintain health, or to heal from illness? The facts may surprise you.
Many of the community try to shy away from being labelled anything that would degrade their refinement. However, is blood drinking not a form of cannibalism?
By referencing “The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine” we can start to pull some very relative ideas to our own plight.
The books, Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture by Louis Noble and Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians by Richard Sugg of England’s University of Durham, point out that:
“For several hundred years, peaking in the 16th and 17th centuries, many Europeans, including royalty, priests and scientists, routinely ingested remedies containing human bones, blood and fat as medicine for everything from headaches to epilepsy.
Blood was procured as fresh as possible, while it was still thought to contain the vitality of the body. This requirement made it challenging to acquire. The 16th century German-Swiss physician Paracelsus believed blood was good for drinking, and one of his followers even suggested taking blood from a living body.
And going back to the 15th century, the practitioner Marsilio Ficino advises:
” There is a common and ancient opinion that certain prophetic women who are popularly called ‘screech-owls’ suck the blood of infants as a means, insofar as they can, of growing young again. Why shouldn’t our old people, namely those who have no [other] recourse, likewise suck the blood of a youth? — a youth, I say who is willing, healthy, happy and temperate, whose blood is of the best but perhaps too abundant. They will suck, therefore, like leeches, an ounce or two from a scarcely- opened vein of the left arm; they will immediately take an equal amount of sugar and wine; they will do this when hungry and thirsty and when the moon is waxing. If they have difficulty digesting raw blood, let it first be cooked together with sugar; or let it be mixed with sugar and moderately distilled over hot water and then drunk.”
Why Does Blood Ingestion Work?
Why does blood work for sanguinarians? Over, lets say, supplements or an adjusted diet?
Supplements can definitely help, but most pill supplements are harder to digest. Most comment on the quality of said supplements, if not high enough, does not work and sometimes even makes matters worse. Pill supplements and nutritional shakes can stave off feeding for a bit, but it does not do the same well-round “job” as a nice blood meal. You could say, the body knows what it needs and chooses the most efficient pathway.
Interestingly, there has been some study of how the human body is able to make adaptations, particularly with iron supplementation. When given iron supplementation (in the study’s case, in pill form), the patients in question had a reduced level of non-heme iron absorption. Their digestive system switched to a more efficient way of obtaining, and absorbing iron.
Internally Injured, Specifically with Digestion: Sanguinarians complain about a myriad of symptoms, but the most daunting occurs within the Gastro-Intestinal areas. We tend to not be able to eat much of anything else, when blood-hungry. Acute and Chronic Inflammation of the Digestive tract include symptoms of stomach pain, IBS-D/C, indigestion, nausea, gastritis, even being diagnosed with auto-immune disorders such as Crohn’s or Celiac’s. Each with their own added symptoms which can include photosensitivity, migraines, and joint paint. Not being able to eat regular food in this period of time drops out our immune system, causes fatigue, and a number of other stresses including increased anxiety and depression. Of which, can become an endless cycle.
On this note, there is also evidence of a “Gut/Brain Axis” in dysfunction. This particular article specifies a connection between digestive function, mental faculties and the microbiota within one’s biome. I have ordered myself a uBiome kit, so I will be able to expand upon this idea in the future!
If Sanguinarians are or were “injured” in some way, (either through genes, or from a past event/sickness) there would definitely be inflammation and absorption issues. So why does drinking blood work? Perhaps it has something to do with Heme.
In this case, blood would provide more natural free heme for an increase of HO-1 to lock on to, and create more CO (or other gas), which then counteracts and even protects against the inflammation. If it can do this for the intestinal tract, could it also be done for everything else in the body?
However, extra heme and CO can prove toxic for the human body. Is there some sort of process or pathway that is different in sanguinarians? An adaptation or evolution?
Unfortunately, at this point, there is not much further we can run as modern medicine appears to be just as clueless about how iron is absorbed through the digestive tract as the rest of us… “Heme iron is absorbed by different mechanisms than non-heme iron, but despite considerable study over many years these mechanisms remain poorly understood.”
Of course, as a small little note, I believe blood provides more than just extra iron to the sanguinarian. It is probably more likely a combination of many factors that help us in one way or another. We may never know what or why we are, but thinking of more reasonable, alternative concepts is the first step.