Anemia, which means ” lacking in blood “, is among the most common diseases affecting human beings. It denotes a shortage of rich red blood cells and coloring matter and usually results from the consumption of refined foods.
The blood flowing in our veins and arteries is really living tissue. Nearly half of it consists of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the tissues. Approximately one trillion ( 10,000 million ) new blood cells are formed in the bone marrow daily. The raw materials required in the production of these cells are iron, proteins, and vitamins, especially folic acid and B12.
The red coloring matter, called hemoglobin is a protein that is composed of an organic iron compound called “heme”. The globin is a sulfur-bearing protein that makes up 96 percent of the molecule. The formation of hemoglobin thus depends on adequate dietary supplies of iron and protein. Red cells have a lifespan of approximately 120 days and are destroyed and replaced daily. Each person should have 100 percent hemoglobin or about 15 grams to 100 cc of blood, and a blood count of five million red cells per millimeter. A drop in the hemoglobin content results in anemia and a consequent decreased ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the tissues.
Symptoms of Anemia
A haggard look, with lines of strain, premature wrinkles, grayish skin, and dull and tired-looking eyes are the main symptoms of anemia. Other symptoms include poor memory, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, lack of energy, shortness of breath on exertion, slow healing of wounds, headaches, mental depression, pale fingers, lips, and ear lobes. The patient usually complains of weakness, easy fatigue, lack of energy, and dizziness.
Causes of Anemia
There are two principal causes of anemia. It can result from the reduced or low formation of red blood cells either due to defects in the bone marrow or an inadequate intake of iron vitamins, and protein. Heavy loss of blood due to injury, bleeding piles, and heavy menstruation may also cause anemia. A lack of digestive acid or hydrochloric acid needed for the digestion of iron and proteins may also result in anemia. Emotional strain, anxiety, and worry usually interfere with the manufacture of hydrochloric acid in the body. Anemia can also be caused by a variety of drugs that destroy vitamin E or by others that inactivate the nutrients needed in building blood cells. Chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, when accompanied by hemorrhage, may also result in anemia.
Other little-known causes of anemia are intestinal parasites or worms. Hookworm, pinworms, roundworms, and tapeworms feed on the blood supply as well as on the vitamins. Twenty-five hookworms can consume fifteen grams of blood every 24 hours; a tapeworm can cause an acute shortage of vitamin B12. Symptoms of intestinal worms are itching at the rectum, restlessness at night with bad dreams, diarrhea, foul breath, dark circles under the eyes, and a constant desire for food. Garlic can help get rid of some types of intestinal parasites. Fresh papaya and grated raw carrot are also effective. After successful treatment for intestinal worms, perfect cleanliness should be observed to prevent a recurrence.
Natural treatment for anemia
Anemia is much more easily prevented than corrected. A liberal intake of iron in the formative years can go a long way in preventing iron-deficiency anemia.
Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anemia. Almost every nutrient is needed for the production of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and the enzymes, required for their synthesis.
Refined food like white bread, polished rice, sugar, and desserts rope the body of the much needed iron. Iron should always be taken in its natural organic form as the use of inorganic can prove hazardous, destroying the protective vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids, causing serious liver damage and even miscarriage and delayed or premature births.
The common foods rich in natural organic iron are wheat and wheat grain cereals, brown rice and rice polishings, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrot, celery, beets, tomatoes, spinach; fruits like apples, berries, cherries, grapes, raisins, figs, dates, peaches, and eggs. It has been proved that a generous intake of iron alone will not help in the regeneration of hemoglobin. The supplies of protein, too, should be adequate. The diet should, therefore, be adequate in proteins of high biological value such as those found in milk, cheese, and egg. Copper is also essential for the utilization of iron in the building of hemoglobin.
Vitamin B12 is a must for preventing or curing anemia. This vitamin is usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidneys and liver. A heavy meat diet is often associated with high hemoglobin and high red cell count, but it has its disadvantages. One cause of anemia is intestinal putrefaction, which is primarily brought on by a high meat diet. Moreover, all meats are becoming increasingly dangerous due to widespread diseases in the animal kingdom. There are, however, other equally good alternative sources of vitamin B12 such as dairy products, like milk, eggs and cheese, and peanuts. Wheat germ and soybeans also contain some B12. Vegetarians should include sizeable amounts of milk, milk products, and eggs in their diet.
For the prevention of anemia, it is essential to take the entire B-complex range which includes B12, as well as the natural foods mentioned above. Eating products that are complete proteins, and which also contain vitamin B12 is good insurance against the disease. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of complete protein.
A liberal intake of ascorbic acid is necessary to facilitate the absorption of iron. At least two helpings of citrus fruits and other ascorbic acid-rich foods should be taken daily.
Mention must be made of beets which are extremely important in curing anemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulfur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, B1, B2, niacin B6, C, and vitamin P. With its high iron content, beet juice regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells, supplies the body with fresh oxygen, and helps the normal function of vesicular breathing.
Water treatment for anemia
A cold water bath is among the most valuable curative measures in anemia. The patient should be given carefully graduated cold baths twice daily. Cold friction, hot Epsom salt baths for five to 10 minutes once a week, and an occasional cabinet steam bath are also recommended. Full sun baths are especially beneficial as the sunlight stimulates the production of red cells.
There are other important factors that are helpful in curing anemia. Deep breathing and light exercises like walking and simple yoga asanas should be undertaken to tone up the system.
Sarvangasana paschomittanasana, uttanpadasana and shavasana are recommended. Massage also helps to keep the blood level high.