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Topic of the Month

Anemia

Anemia is among the most common ailments affecting human beings. It may be defined as a condition in which there is a decrease in the quantity of hemoglobin or in the number of red cells. Nearly half the blood flowing in our veins and arteries consists of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. Approximately 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 proteins are essential in building up the red colouring matter called hemoglobin. 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 hemoglobin per 100ml of blood, and a blood count of approximately five million red cells per millimeter of blood.

CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF ANEMIA

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.

The most striking symptom of anaemia is the pallor of the skin, hence the ayurvedic name Pandu Roga. The best guide however, is the colour of the internal lining of the eyelid. In severe cases the tongue is often sore and the nails of the fingers brittle and concave instead of convex.

A diminished formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, either due to a defect in bone marrow, or due to an inadequate intake of iron, vitamins and proteins, is one of the main causes of anemia. Other important causes are heavy loss of blood due to injury, excessive menstruation in women. Anemia also may occur due to lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

Herbal Remedies

Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is needed for preventing or curing anemia. 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 anemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulpher, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, proteins,fat, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, Niacin and vitamin
P. with there high iron content, beets helps 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 anemia, 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 anemia, which may occur due to the onset
of puberty and menstruation. The seed of fenugreek are also a valuable cure for anemia, 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 anemia. The body easily absorbs the iron in it.

Spinach:
This leafy vegetable is a valuable source of high-grade iron. After its absorption, it helps in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. It is thus beneficial in building up the blood, and in the prevention and treatment of anemia.

Soybeans:
Soybean is rich in iron and also has a high protein value. As most anemic patients usually also suffer from a weak digestion, it should be given to them in a very light form, preferably in a form of milk, which can be easily digested.

Sesame Seeds:
Black Sesame seeds, as a rich source of iron, are valuable in anemia. After soaking one teaspoon of the seeds in warm water for a couple of hours, they should be ground and strained, and mixed with a cup of milk and sweetened with jaggery or sugar. This emulsion should be given to patients suffering from anemia.

Honey:
Honey is remarkable for building hemoglobin 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 anemia. The more important of these are bananas, black grapes, plums, strawberries, raisins, onions, squash, radish, celery and tomatoes.

Dietary Condition:

Diet is of utmost importance in the treatment of anemia. Redefined foods like white bread, polished rice, sugar 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. Also, bear in mind that some elements enhance your body's absorption of iron, while others suppress it. Taking iron with something rich in vitamin C, for
instance, means you'll get the mineral's maximum benefit.

The patient should commence a therapeutic treatment with an exclusive fruit diet for 5 days, taking three meals a day of fresh juicy fruit. A fruit and milk diet may follow this for about fifteen days. Thereafter the patient may gradually embark upon a well - balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits.

If the patient is constipated, purgatives are indicated because anemia is born of pitta which can be corrected through purgation.Triphala is the best remedy for such constipation.

Finally, don't drink coffee or tea when eating meals or taking your supplements; these can also make it more difficult for your body to absorb iron.

Other Measures:

Cold-water baths are recommended in anemia. The patient should be given a
cold bath carefully twice daily, the coldness of the water being increased gradually. A hot salt 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 anemia are deep breathing and light exercises like walking.

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