Natural Solutions for Anemia

Monday Jan 7, 2013 | BY |
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AnemiaIf you’re suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, a few figs a day may help you feel better.

Treatments for anemia typically vary depending on the type of anemia you have. Iron deficiency anemia, for example, can be treated with changes in your diet and iron supplements. Aplastic anemia, however, may require blood transfusions or even a bone marrow transplant.

If you have anemia, check with your doctor first so you completely understand your condition and your treatment options. Then, before you commit to taking drugs or going through more extensive medical treatments, you may want to consider some of these natural treatment options.

What is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition in which your body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which enables the cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, and to carry carbon monoxide from other parts of your body back to your lungs.

Red blood cells are normally produced in your bone marrow, but your body needs iron, vitamin B, and other nutrients to complete the process.

Anemia can be caused by a myriad of conditions, but symptoms are usually similar, and include fatigue, dizziness, cold hands and feet, pale skin, fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, headaches, and sometimes chest pain and cognitive problems.

What Causes Anemia?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a variety of conditions can cause anemia. These may include:

  • Iron deficiency anemia: You don’t have enough iron in your body to make enough hemoglobin.
  • Vitamin deficiency anemia: You lack enough B vitamins to produce enough red blood cells.
  • Chronic disease: Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and other disease can interfere with the production of red blood cells.
  • Aplastic anemia: Infections, drugs, and autoimmune diseases can cause this life-threatening anemia, which reduces the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells.
  • Bone marrow disease: If the bone marrow is compromised by diseases like leukemia, bone marrow cancers, and myelodysplasia, it may not be able to produce enough red blood cells.
  • Blood diseases: Certain blood diseases can increase the destruction of red blood cells, leaving you without enough.
  • Sickle cell anemia: This inherited disease creates a defective form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to assume an abnormal shape and die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage.

You may be more at risk for anemia if you eat an unbalance diet, are pregnant, have a family history of anemia, suffer from intestinal disorders, or have chronic health conditions. Whatever’s causing your anemia, it’s important to treat it right away. Untreated, anemia can lead to severe fatigue, heart problems, and even life-threatening complications.

Natural Options That May Help
Though it’s always best to check with your doctor about treatments, some types of anemia can be treated at home. You may want to try these natural solutions:

  • Iron in your diet: Make sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet. Your body easily absorbs iron from meat, but if you’re on a vegetarian, vegan, or raw diet, choose food sources like spinach, tofu, peas and beans, dried fruits, and iron-fortified cereals and breads. Consider getting blood tests to regularly monitor your intake, and adjust as needed. Take supplements as your doctor advises, usually about 100 mg/day. Choose iron aspararte, citrate or picolinate—not sulphate, as it doesn’t absorb as well.
  • Vitamin B: Low vitamin B can lead to anemia. Make sure you’re getting enough B12 and folic acid in food options like soy-based beverages, veggie burgers, breads, dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, oranges, yogurt, and cheese. Consider supplements if your diet is frequently low in vitamin B, or injections if you’re having difficulty absorbing supplements.
  • Vitamin C: The body needs vitamin C to absorb iron. Food sources include citrus fruits, berries, and cantaloupes, as well as broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, turnip greens and spinach. You may also want to try supplements at 500 mg/day, preferably taken with any iron supplements.
  • Try 3-4 figs per day: These are high in iron and fiber, and can help you start to feel better.
  • Cut back on coffee and tea: Polyphenols in tea leaves and coffee leaves and beans can inhibit the absorption of iron. Cut these out of your diet until you start to feel stronger again. Beer, dairy products, and soft drinks can also interfere with iron absorption.
  • Calcium, vitamin E, zinc, antacids: Don’t take these at the same time as you take your iron supplements or consume your iron-based foods, as they can interfere with iron absorption.
  • Use more honey: It helps increase hemoglobin in the blood, and is rich in iron.
  • Yellowdock: This herb is a natural and organic source of iron.
  • Molasses: Another good dietary source of iron. Try a tablespoonful twice daily.
  • Panax ginseng: It may help counteract the fatigue you’re feeling.
  • Alfalfa: Traditionally used to help fortify the blood, alfalfa may help bring levels of hemoglobin back into their normal range.
  • Nettles: Herbalists and nutritionists use nettles as a treatment for iron-deficiency anemia. Try nettle tea a few times a day.

Do you have tips for helping to treat anemia at home? Please share.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Paul says:

    Great suggestions… Except for the soy and tofu. That stuff is bad news (even if organic). Otherwise, I learned a lot. Going to bookmark it.

  2. Jenny says:

    Could you discuss teas? It is recommended to stay away from tea, yet there are specific kinds of teas listed below. I think I had read that green and black tea are from a specific plant, but teas from other plants are technically infusions…?

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