Anemia Treatment Using Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture

There are about 450 million women all over the world suffering from anemia and many of them do not know of its symptoms and are likely to attribute them to everyday stress. Anemia, which literally means “without blood” is a blood disorder defined by deficiency in the hemoglobin (blood cells that carry iron) or RBC (red blood cell) in the body.

The red blood cell primarily functions to send oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body swapping the oxygen with carbon dioxide that is to be exhaled out of the body through the process of respiration. if these cells are not supplied with enough oxygen , they weaken and would be unable to function normally, let alone, optimally.

There are three possible causes of anemia: severe loss of blood, red blood cell destruction, inadequate red blood cell production, or inadequate red blood cell production. Anemia may manifest in various forms but its most common form is iron deficiency anemia. Iron is a very element important needed by the body to create hemoglobin. Around a fifth of women of childbearing age in the United States suffer from anemia, this is significantly high compared to the number of men affected by this condition, which stands at a mere 2%. The main reason for this is that women undergo menstrual cycles which cause them to lose a substantial amount of blood each month.

Anemia can also come about if the body is unable to absorb enough iron or if people do not eat enough foods containing iron. Anemia can develop from chronic diseases that cause loss of blood or it may be due to factors that inhibit the production of new blood. Bleeding hemorrhoids, peptic ulcer, and bone marrow disease are a few examples of such diseases.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), blood is the basic material needed to create, basically, the body. It is the substance used to create the organs, bones muscles, nerves and skin. It is also where the Spirit (Shen) resides. Shen is the element that balances the soul or psyche. In TCM, the term “blood deficiency” is closely related to the Western definition of iron-deficiency anemia although the term used by Western medicine does not entirely correspond to the TCM perspective of blood deficiency. There are certain symptoms in TCM definition of blood deficiency that equate to the Western definition of anemia and there are also symptoms that are different in the two medical systems.

You may have anemia if you manifest the following symptoms:

-Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
-Increased heart rate
-Sore or Swollen tongue
-Shortness of breath
-Sallow or pale complexion
-Pale nailbeds and lips

There are anemic individuals who have a craving for paint, dirt, or ice. TCM blood deficiency symptoms may be as follows:

-Zero or scanty menstruation
-Heart palpitations
-Poor appetite
-Blurry vision
-Dry skin
-Thin dry or premature graying hair
-Numbness of the limbs
-Unusual hair loss

In the treatment of anemia, the first thing a doctor does is to run a complete diagnostic workup on the patient. If the doctor sees that a patient has peptic ulcer or any disease that causes anemia, he/she needs to first keep the issue under control. If any signs of anemia are seen, a blood test may be ordered. This may be a test to measure serum ferritin levels, or a test to measure RBC, hematocrit or hemoglobin levels of the patient.

TCM treatment of iron deficiency anemia usually entails the use of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Cleveland to strengthen vital energy (qi) and nourish the blood apart from a diet high in iron. For infants, a minimum of 6 mg of iron is recommended each day, while for pregnant women, at least 30 mg of iron taken daily is required. Talk to your practitioner to determine the right dosage of iron for you. It is important to get the proper amounts of iron as too much of it can lead to constipation as well as a disruption of the absorption of essential trace minerals; worse, too much high intake of iron can increase the risk of a heart attack. To prevent constipation, one can add dietary fiber to his/her daily supplementation.

Chicken, lamb, oysters, lean meat, and beef liver are some of the proper foods to eat if you’re suffering from severe blood deficiency or severe anemia. Yams, leafy green vegetables parsley, dried beans, seaweeds, blackstrap molasses, almonds, dried fruits such as dried apricots, raisins, and prunes, and whole grains are excellent sources of iron for mild cases of blood deficiency or mild anemia

Vitamin C supplements, strawberries, tomatoes, citrus and other foods high in vitamin C greatly boost the absorption of iron from foods. Candy bars, ice cream, beer, soft drinks, chocolate, rhubarb, Swiss chard, spinach, wheat bran, coffee, and tea are foods to avoid because they tend to disrupt iron absorption. Overuse of Antacids calcium supplements also can disrupt iron absorption.

Some Helpful Tips for Treating Mild or Severe Cases of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Women more than men are affected by anemia, to date an estimated 400 million women all over the world suffer from this condition and a lot of them aren’t even aware of its mild symptoms. They mistakenly believe that the symptoms are due to the stresses of life. Anemia literally translates to “without blood.” It denotes a disorder characterized by a lack of red blood cells or a deficiency in hemoglobin of these cells.

The main function of red blood cells is to move oxygen from the lungs to body cells in which oxygen is swapped with carbon dioxide. A lack of oxygen supply makes the cells weak thus resulting in a weak body lacking in energy.

Anemia is usually the result of poor red blood cell production, excessive red blood cell destruction or too much loss of blood. It may manifest in different types with the most common being iron deficiency anemia. Without an adequate amount of iron, hemoglobin cannot be made. Iron is an essential substance in the production of hemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia or IDA is a common disorder among pregnant women. Woman who are of child bearing age are more prone to DA than men because of their monthly menstrual cycles.

One other cause for iron deficiency anemia is inadequate consumption of foods rich in iron. The body’s inability to absorb iron can be another cause for anemia. Longstanding illnesses and diseases that cause blood loss or affect the production of new blood can cause anemia as well. Some of these illnesses include bleeding hemorrhoids, bone marrow disease and peptic ulcer.

According to the traditional view of Chinese medicine, blood is as an essential material for the creation of the body organs, muscles, skin, nerves and bones. The Shen or spirit is also found in blood and this Shen is what balances the psyche. In traditional Chinese medicine, a condition known as “blood deficiency” can best be exemplified in iron-deficiency anemia although the Chinese definition of blood deficiency doesn’t entirely correspond with that of the Western medical definition of anemia.

Anemia may result in the following symptoms:

Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
Shortness of breath
Swollen or sore tongue
Increased hart rate
Pale nail beds and lips
Sallow or pale complexion

There may be anemia sufferers who may exhibit unusual symptoms like having a desire to eat paint, dirt, or ice. Other anemia symptoms include

A poor appetite
Dry skin
Dry and thinning hair and hair that is prematurely graying
Unusual loss of hair
Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) or delayed menses
Scanty periods
Numbness of the limbs
Blurry vision
Heart palpitations

Anemia Treatment

In treating anemia, the first thing you need to do is to determine the underlying factor(s) causing this disorder. This is done through diagnostic tests recommended by a medical physician or a qualified health care professional. If the cause is a condition such as peptic ulcer, you need to resolve that condition first. If your anemia is caused by an improper diet, this can be easily rectified.

If you think you’re suffering from anemia, your doctor can request a blood test to determine the amount of serum ferritin, hematocrit, hemoglobin and red blood cells in your body.

Using traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia usually means availing of Chinese herbs and acupuncture to nourish blood and tonify energy (qi) respectively. These two modalities are always combined with a diet laden with iron. If needed, iron supplements can also be included in the treatment. Pregnant women require an intake of 30 mg of iron each day while infants need a daily dose of 6 mg.

To be sure about the right dose for you, consult with your doctor. You should not take too much iron as it can cause constipation and may even make you at risk of a heart attack. Too much iron in your body can also disrupt your body’s uptake of essential trace minerals. To treat constipation, fiber supplements or a diet rich in fiber is needed.

Some of the foods to eat with high amounts of iron if you have mild anemia include:

Whole grains
Raisins and prunes
Dried apricots
Blackstrap molasses
Dried beans
Green leafy vegetables

For severe blood deficiency or anemia, some of the iron-rich foods to eat include:

Lean meat
Beef liver

Foods to improve the body’s absorption of iron include strawberries, tomatoes and other citrus foods as well as vitamin C supplements and other foods rich in vitamin C. Foods that can slow down the body’s capacity to absorb iron include candy bars, ice cream, beer, soft drinks, chocolate, rhubarb, Swiss chard, spinach, wheat bran, coffee and tea. Too much intake of calcium supplements and antacids can also weaken iron absorption functionality.

Vita-Health Acupuncture and Wellness Center
6840 Dykes Road
Pembroke Pines, FL 33331
Phone: (954) 880-0090