Anaemia – Haemoglobin Deficiency in Blood
Anaemia may be defined as a condition in which there is a decrease in the quantity of haemoglobin or in the number of red cells. Anaemia is among the most common ailments affecting human beings.
Nearly half the blood flowing in our veins and arteries consists of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the tissues. Approximately one trillion or 100 million new blood cells are formed daily in the bone marrow. The raw materials required in the production of these cells are iron, proteins, and vitamins, especially folic acid and B12. Of these, iron and proteins are essential in building up the red colouring matter called haemoglobin. A red cell has a lifespan of approximately one hundred and twenty days and is then destroyed and replaced. Each person should have about 15 gm of haemoglobin per 100 ml of blood, and a blood count of approximately five million red cells per millimetre of blood.
Causes and Symptoms of Anaemia
The patient usually complains of weakness, fatigue, lack of energy, and dizziness. Other symptoms include a haggard look, premature wrinkles, dull and tired looking eyes, poor memory, shortness of breath on exertion, headache, slow healing of wounds, and palpitations. The skin and mucous membranes look pale.
A diminished formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, either due to defects in the bone marrow, or due to an inadequate intake of iron, vitamins, and proteins, is one of the main causes of anaemia. Other important causes are heavy loss of blood due to injury, bleeding piles, or excessive menstruation in women. Anaemia can also occur due to a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is needed for digestion of iron and proteins, or intestinal parasites or worms. Hookworms, pinworms, round worms and tape worms feed on the supply of blood as well as on the vitamins.
Natural Remedies for Anaemia
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is needed for preventing or curing anaemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein, especially in meats such as kidney and liver. There are, however, other equally good sources of vitamin B12 such as dairy products which also contain some B12.
Beets: Beets are very helpful in curing anaemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins B1, B2, B6, niacin, and vitamin P. With their high iron content, beets help in the formation of red blood cells. The juice of red beet strengthens the body’s powers of resistance and has proved to be an excellent remedy for anaemia, especially for children and teenagers, where other blood-forming remedies have failed.
Fenugreek: The leaves of fenugreek help in blood formation. The cooked leaves should be taken by adolescent girls to prevent anaemia, which may occur due to the onset of puberty and menstruation. The seeds of fenugreek are also a valuable cure for anaemia, being rich in iron.
Lettuce: Lettuce is another effective remedy for this ailment as it contains a considerable amount of iron. It can, therefore, be used as a good tonic food for anaemia. The iron in it is easily absorbed by the body.
Spinach: This leafy vegetable is a valuable source of high grade iron. After its absorption, it helps in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells. It is thus beneficial in building up the blood, and in the prevention and treatment of anaemia.
Soyabean: Soyabean is rich in iron and also has a high protein value. As most anaemic patients usually also suffer from a weak digestion, it should be given to them in a very light form, preferably in the form of milk, which can be easily digested.
Almonds: Almonds contain copper to the extent of 1.15 mg per 100 gm. The copper along with iron and vitamins acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of haemoglobin. Almonds are, therefore, a useful remedy for anaemia. Seven almonds should be soaked in water for about two hours and ground into a paste after removing the thin red skin. This paste may be eaten once daily in the morning for three months.
Sesame Seeds: Black sesame seeds, as a rich source of iron, are valuable in anaemia. After soaking one teaspoon of the seeds in warm water for a couple of hours, they should be ground and strained, and then mixed with a cup of milk and sweetened with jaggery or sugar. This emulsion should be given to patients suffering from anaemia.
Honey: Honey is remarkable for building haemoglobin in the body. This is largely due to the iron, copper, and manganese contained in it.
Other Foods: There are several other foods which are rich sources of iron and can be used beneficially in the treatment of anaemia. The more important of these are bananas, black grapes, plums, strawberries, raisins, onions, squash, carrots, radish, celery, and tomatoes.
Diet is of utmost importance in the treatment of anaemia. Refined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar, and desserts rob the body of its much-needed iron. Iron should preferably be taken in its natural organic form in food. The emphasis in the diet should be on raw vegetables and fresh fruits which are rich in iron.
The patient should commence a therapeutic treatment with an exclusive fruit diet for five days, taking three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits. This may be followed by a fruit and milk diet for about fifteen days. In this regimen, the frequency of meals should be exactly the same as for the earlier all-fruit diet. Thereafter, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Cold water baths are recommended in anaemia. The patient should be given a cold bath carefully twice daily, the coldness of the water being increased gradually. A hot Epsom salts bath for five to ten minutes once a week and an occasional steam bath are also useful. Sunbaths are especially beneficial as the sunlight stimulates the production of red cells. Other important factors that help in curing anaemia are deep breathing and light exercises like walking. Yogic asanas such as sarvangasana, paschimottanasana, and shavasana, as well as massage are also helpful in this regard.