is a disorder of the blood in which the red blood cells are defective in some way.
What to look for
weakness, fatigue, and a
general feeling of malaise
You may be mildly anaemic.
your lips look bluish, your
skin is pasty or yellowish, and your gums, nail beds, eyelid linings, or palm creases are
You are almost certainly anaemic.
in addition to feeling weak
and tired, you are frequently out of breath, faint, or dizzy
You may have severe
your tongue burns
vitamin B12 anaemia.
your tongue feels unusually
slick and you experience movement or balance problems, tingling in the extremities,
You may have pernicious anaemia.
other possible symptoms: headaches, insomnia, decreased
appetite, poor concentration, and an irregular heartbeat.
To stay healthy, the organs
and tissues of the human body need a steady supply of oxygen. anaemia, in which body
tissues are deprived of oxygen, is caused by a reduction in the number of circulating red
blood cells or by inadequate amounts of an essential protein called haemoglobin. The
severity of anaemia can range from mild to life-threatening.
Normally, the heart pumps
oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs, where haemoglobin in the red blood cells binds to
oxygen collected there
Oxygen-rich blood then travels through the circulatory system
to the rest of the body.
Oxygen starvation occurs if
the body lacks sufficient numbers of red blood cells, which survive for only about 120
days and must constantly be replaced. Anaemia can occur if large amounts of blood are lost
or if something interferes with the production of red blood cells or accelerates their
destruction. Because haemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells and the carrier
for oxygen molecules, anaemia also occurs if the haemoglobin supply is insufficient or if
the haemoglobin itself is dysfunctional.
More than 400 different forms
of anaemia have been identified, many of them rare. An anaemic person often appears pale
and weak and may feel breathless, faint, or unusually aware of a pounding heart.
The disorder may arise from a
number of underlying conditions, some of which may be hereditary, but in many cases poor
diet is to blame. Although some forms of anaemia require supervised medical care, those
stemming from improper nutrition can typically be treated at home once a physician has
determined the cause.
Anaemia can be the result of
the bodys bone marrow not making sufficient levels of red blood cells, the body
destroying too many blood cells, loss of blood (through heavy periods or unnoticed
bleeding) or through a Vitamin deficiency in B12, B6, folic acid and iron.
Vitamin C has also been found to be helpful for
iron-deficient anaemia. The problem can be traced to dietary deficiencies. Anaemia in
alcoholics arises because they fail to eat properly. Anaemia can also result when the
digestive system loses its ability to absorb key vitamins and minerals.
Iron deficiency anaemia, occurs when the body does not
store enough iron, the primary raw material of haemoglobin. Iron deficiency is usually a
dietary problem, but in many cases other conditions complicate the picture. For example,
women who lose excessive amounts of blood through heavy menstrual flows (see Menstrual
Problems) may have a lower-than-average iron level. Women who are pregnant or nursing may
also have low iron levels because of loss to the developing foetus or because of milk
Iron deficiency anaemia also
afflicts people who have had surgery to remove part of the stomach, thereby impairing the
ability to absorb iron.
The most common megaloblastic
anaemia is the type caused by
deficiency. People with this form of anaemia usually aren't getting enough folic acid in
their diet. While just one cup of spinach provides enough folic acid to meet the
recommended daily allowance. For some people, the problem is caused not by dietary
inadequacies but by an inability to absorb sufficient amounts of folic acid.
Certain intestinal disorders,
such as some inflammatory bowel diseases and Crohn's disease, as well as some drugs can
interfere with folic acid metabolism. Heavy consumption of alcohol can also lower blood
levels of folic acid by interfering with proper nutrition and by hindering the digestive
system's ability to absorb the vitamin.
Because most people,
especially those who consume meat and eggs, get plenty of vitamin B12 from their diet, anaemia linked to a
vitamin B12 deficiency usually signals the body's inability to absorb the vitamin. This
type of anaemia can occur in people who have had surgery along the digestive tract.
However, the most common form
of B12 deficiency anaemia, known as pernicious anaemia, results when the stomach fails to
produce a chemical that normally combines with vitamin B12 to aid its absorption in the
small intestine. Pernicious anaemia is a rare condition that most commonly affects older
Conventional remedies for
anaemia range from simple dietary changes and vitamin supplements to hormone treatments
and, in severe cases, surgery.
Once blood tests reveal the
underlying problem, treatment is relatively simple.
extremely toxic in large quantities. Excessive use of supplements can lead to iron
overload, possibly resulting in abdominal pain, nutritional imbalances, digestive
problems, or even death, especially in children.
Since vitamin B12 anaemia is
almost always linked to the body's inability to absorb the vitamin through the digestive
tract, regular B12 injections are the only recourse. Most people learn to self-administer
B12 injections at home.
In some cases of anaemia
caused by excessive blood loss, surgery is the only solution. To determine whether surgery
is necessary, your doctor will run extensive tests to identify the cause of the bleeding.
practitioners approach the disorder through dietary modifications
techniques to improve circulation and digestion.
Some remedies treat anaemia
by promoting better circulation, others by increasing iron absorption, stimulating
digestion, or adjusting the diet to include more iron- or vitamin-rich foods.
According to traditional
Chinese medicine, anaemia is a symptom of a weak spleen. Treatment would involve ways to
stimulate the spleen. A healthy spleen maintains the health of blood vessels and nourishes
the blood itself, while a weak spleen produces deficient blood.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is useful as a
general tonic to eliminate fatigue.
(Angelica sinensis), another Asian herb, might be prescribed for women with heavy
menstrual flow. For anaemic patients that have a sallow, yellowish complexion, a Chinese
herbalist might recommend a combination of Dong Quai and Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia
glutinosa). For patients that have a stark white complexion, the remedy might be a mixture
of ginseng and
astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus).
There are a number of
remedies that may be helpful in treating anaemia. You will need professional advice where
this is concerned.
caraway, cumin and
liquorice may help this condition.
Olive for exhaustion,
Hornbeam for energy loss.
Adjusting your diet to
include foods which contain iron to eliminate anaemia, including
enriched breads and
cereals, rice, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, dried beans, blackstrap molasses,
lean red meat, liver, poultry, dried fruits, almonds, shellfish, deep green leafy
vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lentils, lima beans, whole grains,
mushrooms and egg yolk.
Evidence also suggests that
vitamin C and copper help the body absorb iron, so drink citrus fruit juice with your
meals and make sure that your daily multivitamin contains
Avoid caffeinated or
carbonated beverages, antacids,
and black tea, all of which contain ingredients that interfere with iron absorption.
If you're low on folic acid,
increase your intake of citrus fruits, mushrooms, green vegetables, liver, eggs, milk, and
bulking agents like wheat germ and brewer's yeast. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of
folate, which is the vitamin B complex component of folic acid. Keep in mind that folic
acid is destroyed by heat and light, so fruits and vegetables should be eaten fresh and
cooked as little as possible.
When to seek further
You have any of the
symptoms mentioned above
You have been taking iron
supplements and experience symptoms such as vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, fever, jaundice,
lethargy, or seizures
You may be suffering from iron overload, which can be
life-threatening, especially in children.