Anemia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
In Ayurveda, anemia is referred to as ‘Pandu’, which means Pallor. Pandu rog is classified according to the predominance of the involved doshas (Vata, Pitta or Kapha), a combination of all three (Sannipataj). It occurs due to disturbed Pitta dosha and dysfunction of Agni (digestive fire), the formation of Ama i.e. toxins in the body. This imbalanced Pitta dosha disturbs the Pitta in the liver (Ranjaka Pitta) and the heart (Sadhaka Pitta), and causes heaviness in the tissues, affecting the blood, muscles and Ojas, resulting in pale complexion, loss of strength, palpitations, giddiness, tinnitus, dry skin, fatigue, exhaustion, pain, irritability, breathlessness, oedema under the eyes, etc. This is usually caused by eating sour, salty, hot or pungent foods, etc.
Causes of Anemia
Anemia occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough RBCs (red blood cells) which could be due to –
1. Blood Loss
The most common type of anemia—iron deficiency anemia. It is caused by a shortage of iron, most often through blood loss. Blood loss can be acute and rapid or chronic. Rapid blood loss can be due to surgery, childbirth, trauma, or a ruptured blood vessel. Chronic blood loss is more common. Causes of anemia due to blood loss can be due to – gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcers piles, cancer, or gastritis, use of NSAIDs, like -Aspirin and ibuprofen and menstrual bleeding.
2) Decreased or Faulty Red Blood Cell Production
A number of diseases can affect the bone marrow, where too many abnormal white blood cells are produced. This disrupts the normal production of red blood cells.
- Sickle cell anemia – The crescent-shaped blood cells can also get stuck in smaller blood vessels, causing pain.
- Iron-deficiency anemia – Too few red blood cells are produced because of a poor diet, menstruation, frequent blood donation, endurance training.
- Certain digestive conditions like – Crohn’s disease, surgical removal of part of the gut, and some foods etc can cause iron deficiency.
- Bone marrow and stem cell problem – When very few or no stem cells are present, then red blood cells cannot grow and mature properly.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia – Vitamin B-12 and folate are essential for the production of red blood cells. If any of them is deficient, red blood cell production will be too low.
3) Destruction of red blood cells
Red blood cells have a life span of 120 days. Excessive red blood cell breakdown can occur in infections, advanced kidney or liver disease, hypertension, clotting disorders, enlargement of the spleen.
Clinical Features of Anemia
These can be as follow –
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Cold extremities
- Irregular heartbeat
Symptoms of Anemia
Some forms of anemia can have specific symptoms –
Aplastic anemia – Frequent infections, skin rashes
- Folic acid deficiency anemia – Irritability, smooth tongue
- Hemolytic anemia – Dark-colored urine, fever, abdominal pains
- Sickle cell anemia – Painful swelling of the feet and hands, fatigue, jaundice
Herbal Treatment of Anemia
Firstly, Agni is corrected to support proper digestion, absorption and metabolism by ensuring a proper diet, nourishing the tissues. Herbal treatment includes –
1. Chicory(Cichorium intybus)
It is a very good stomach tonic used to increase the appetite and digestion in anemic patients by increasing the production of gastric juices. You can take an infusion of this plant in dried form as1 tsp in 1 glass of water per day.
2. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
It is a good appetizer, used to increase hunger, contains iron in it and also increases the mineral levels of the body. You can take infusion of this plant in dried form as1 tsf in 1 glass of water per day.
3. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
It is also a good appetizer, used to increase the hunger. You can take an infusion of this plant in dried form as 1 tsp in 1 glass of water per day before meals. It shows great results in treating Anemia.
4. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum)
It is very good to treat anemia as it is used to increase appetite and digestion in anemic patients. It stimulates the digestion process and acts as a body strengthener. You can take an infusion of this plant in dried form as1 tsp in 1 glass of water per day.
5. Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Rosemarinus is a rich source of iron and is very helpful in treating anemia. You can take an infusion of this plant in dried form as1 tsp in 1 glass of water per day.
6. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is a rich source of iron and is very helpful in treating anemia.You can take an infusion of this plant in dried form as1 tsp in 1 glass of water per day and can also be used as a vegetable for vegetable broths.
7. Watergrass( Nasturtium officinale)
Watergrass is a rich source of iron and is very helpful in treating anemia.You can take it in the form of salad and in juice form. You can crush its leaves and make its juice and can drink this juice 100 gm per day.
8. Verbena (Verbena officinalis)
Verbena is very helpful in managing symptoms related to anemia. You can take a maceration of 100 gm of the root by mixing it with red wine. Drain the solution and drink it regularly.
It is blue-green algae, which is very helpful in treating anemia. You can take 1 teaspoon per day.
10. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
This herb is used to fortify and cleanse the blood as it may help bring levels of hemoglobin into the normal range. You may use a single herb or a combination of this herb with other herbs. You can use its roots and leaves. You can use this herb by boiling its roots for 20 minutes and leaves for 5 minutes.
11. Gentian(Gentiana lutea)
This herb is used to treat anemia by stimulating the digestive system to more easily absorb iron and other nutrients. It is also helpful in managing chronic pain and frequent urination symptoms if the patient suffers.