Anemia – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Anemia
Today we’ll discuss about a problem named anemia which refers to low hemoglobin count in blood.
Caused due to deficiency of iron in our body, Anemia results in low hemoglobin count in the blood. Actually, hemoglobin is a protein found in blood which transports oxygen to the cells. A drop in the hemoglobin count results in decreased supply of oxygen to the cells and as a result we suffer from anemia.
Q. Which condition is called as anemia?
As you said, deficiency of hemoglobin in blood is called as anemia, wherein oxygen carrying capacity of blood gets reduced. Hemoglobin attaches itself to oxygen molecules so when there is decrease in hemoglobin count then the oxygen carrying capacity of blood reduces. So the condition wherein the oxygen carrying capacity of blood reduces and hemoglobin count in the blood becomes less than the described level , is called as anemia and in Ayurveda, we call it Pandu rog.
Q. How would a person know that the blood in his body has low level of hemoglobin?
The first symptom which is generally observed is weakness in the body. Whenever there is a fall in hemoglobin level, the patient will feel weakness in his body and the skin will start appearing pale. People around you would ask why are you looking yellowish or whitish….which means your skin will start acquiring a complexion called pandu, which is a mixture of yellow and white colour. Sometimes, when the hemoglobin level falls too much, there will be swelling in the body. So, these are the initial symptoms which indicate fall in hemoglobin count in one’s body. The patient may feel shortness of breath even after mild activities or Dyspnea on climbing stair while he has no medical history of Asthma, as such. So, basically there is lack of stamina and this is the primary indication that a person may be suffering from anemia.
Appearance is the primary indication. We usually observe the conjunctiva, if it has pallor then we send the patient for blood test and if hemoglobin is below the standard level, then the primary diagnosis is yes the patient is be anemic. Anemia, in itself is a disease but there are many other diseases which may give rise to anemia. So, later on we diagnose the reason due to which the patient is anemic and accordingly the treatment is advised.
Q What are the diseases which can make a person anemic?
There are mainly three conditions which are used to describe anemia:
- If there is low production of blood in the body due to any reason, one can become anemic.
- If there is a huge blood loss from the body due to any reason.
- A condition or an atmosphere is created due to toxicity due to which blood cells begin to rupture.
I would like to repeat here that, if one has low blood level , the reason could be there is little production of blood, or there is loss of blood happening during menstrual cycle, or through gum bleeding, or the patient is suffering from ulcerating colitis or any other reason due to which there is continuous blood loss happening. Third condition, as I told you is of hemolysis, in which blood cells begin to rupture. So, these are the three main conditions which can make a person anemic.
Reason for low production of blood can be poor nutrition, or lack of iron and vitamins in the diet. It is also a possibility that a person has such a disease in his intestine, that the iron which he is taking is not being absorbed in the body. So, we can say that either you are not taking sufficient amount of iron or due to poor digestion, iron is not being absorbed. It is also possible that you are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or there is one Spru disease in which whatever you eat, is excreted as it is. In both these diseases, the blood level falls continuously resulting in weakness in the body.
Reason for huge blood loss could be, as I told you, are pathological conditions like ulcerative colitis in which there is blood loss with stool, or you are suffering from bleeding piles, or you have bleeding gums or bleeding in teeth, or in women there is condition of Menorrhagia in which there is heavy menstrual bleeding. So in these conditions, patient becomes anemic due to blood loss.
Reason for the third condition of hemolysis in which blood cells get destroyed could be due to splenic disorders, or hemolytic jaundice, presence of some toxins in the body, or the condition of Thalassemia. So these are the conditions in which blood cells get destroyed themselves and as a result, such patients need blood transfusion after every fixed interval in order to maintain the blood level. If not treated properly, such patients need repeated blood transfusion and become more and more anemic.
On the basis of these categories we can manage anemia and plan the treatment accordingly.
Q. What is the standard level of hemoglobin in human body?
See, if we talk about ladies, 12-14 gm hemoglobin per deciliter of blood is considered normal. In gents, 13-15 gm hemoglobin per deciliter of blood is considered as normal level. Definitely these are the ideal levels of hemoglobin in human body.
Q. Why is there a difference in ideal levels in males and females?
Females have menstrual cycle in which there is blood loss, so generally it is seen that females have comparatively lower levels of hemoglobin. This is the only reason I think, for a difference in ideal levels of hemoglobin in males and females.
Q. How can we increase the hemoglobin level in our body? Does Ayurveda have some home remedies for them?
Of course! See I always say this that if you have anemia or you think that your hemoglobin level is less than the ideal level, then use gooseberry. Gooseberry is a very good source of vitamin C. If you consume gooseberry every day and simultaneously, take two tablets of amla loh (an Ayurvedic medicine) daily. You see, iron most absorbed with vitamin C. So if you take two tablets of Amla loh and gooseberry in any for (sweetened or powdered, juice etc.), you will see that there is constant rise in hemoglobin level.
Q. I would like to stop you here, actually sweetened gooseberry, being high on calories, is generally avoided mainly by girls.
You can always take gooseberry in other forms. As it is there are many other thing to refrain from (for avoiding calories) – why only gooseberry, you are not going to gain weight by consuming gooseberry. Avoid burgers, pizzas and stop taking refined food and ice-cream , cold drinks etc.
Definitely you can consume sweetened gooseberry, gooseberry powder or juice. If you take two tablets of amla loh, then the combination of iron vitamin c is very good, increases blood in the body. There is another small product in the kitchen, large raisins. They increase hemoglobin level rapidly. Soak 8-10 large raisins in water overnight. Consume the water in morning and take soaked raisins with milk. This will increase your hemoglobin rapidly and there will be production of new blood in your body. Dry dates are very rich source of iron. If you consume dry dates(one in summer and two in winter) boiled with milk, during bed time, it will definitely boost hemoglobin level. You can take carrots, beetroot, spinach, mustard leaves. They are all good source of iron.
Q. It means our nature has the solution?
Definitely, these are very simple things yet very effective. We just need to look around and understand, as to how to use them
Q. If we talk about the problem of anemia arising due to some other disease like jaundice etc. then what treatment you suggest in that case?
Yes, as we’ve talked, anemia can be caused by other diseases like Jaundice( specifically hemolytic jaundice where blood cells are being destroyed). In such cases we definitely need to go to the root cause, clean the body off the toxic condition. We need to check spleen, sometimes there are immunological conditions in which blood cells begin to rupture. So we need to ascertain the underlying reason and accordingly start the treatment. We give phaltrigadi Vati if it is liver disorder, we give amukha jhag in case of spleen disorder. If there is problem in immunity like there are autoimmune reactions then we’ll have to use gilloy. In case of children, worms could be reasons for anemia, so in such cases, we’ll have to do deworming . If the underlying reason is blood loss due to gum bleeding, then we advise the patient to massage a mixture of salt, sphatic and mustard oil on gums. Sphatica is a very good astringent so it blocks the bleeding sites.
Sometimes women complain about heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles and resulting weakness due to low hemoglobin levels. In such a case, we advise two medicines lohdravsav and patrangasav which are very common and readily available. These two are to be taken at bed time( after dinner) and the dosage is 4-teaspoon each mixed with equal amount of water. Pradrantak loh tablets (2 tablets) are to be taken in the morning and evening. These medicines provides relief from excessive bleeding during menstrual cycle. In cases of ulcerative colitis, wherein there is bleeding in every stool, then definitely you can use chandroday ark, you can combine saunf ark and makoi ark and use it. Trinkant ghan vati and keharwa ghan vati are known to give cooling effect to intestines and their use immediately stops bleeding in patients of ulcerative colitis. So we first decide the pathology that whether we want to stop the blood loss first or the process of blood cell rupturing or there is neither of these conditions but poor nutrition is the main cause i.e. there is no intake of iron and proteins.
Haem means blood and Globin is a kind of protein, so both of these are required by our body and the food that we intake should essentially have both of them. So we do the diet-correction. It depends on which type of pathology is responsible for anemia in a particular patient and accordingly we advise the management to the patient.