DEFINITION: A condition in which there is a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells per cubic millimeter, the amount of hemoglobin per 100 milliliters, or the volume of packed red cells per 100 milliliters of blood. It exists when hemoglobin content is less than that required to provide the oxygen demands of the body. It is not possible to state that anemia exists when the hemoglobin is less than a specific value. If the onset of anemia is slow, the body may adjust so well that there will be on functional impairment, even though the hemoglobin may be less than 6 gm/100 ml of blood. Anemia is not a disease; it is a symptom of various diseases. Anemia is classified on the basis of mean corpuscular volume and by etiological (causes) factors.
CAUSES: Anemia may result from excessive blood loss, excessive blood cell destruction, or decreased blood cell formation.
SYMPTOMS: Pallor of skin, fingernail beds, and mucous membranes; weakness; vertigo (dizziness); headache; sore tongue; drowsiness; general malaise (feel bad); dyspnea (shortness of breath); tachycardia (fast beating heart); palpitation (discernible forced heat beat); angina pectoris (pain in the chest radiating to left arm or neck); gastrointestinal disturbances, amenorrhea (no menstrual flow); loss of libido (no interest in sex); slight fever; irritability; constipation; difficulty concentrating.
Possible causes include: drug use. hormonal disorders, surgery, infections, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, heavy menstrual bleeding, repeated pregnancies, liver damage, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, bone marrow disease, irradiation, and dietary deficiencies. Excessive aspirin usage in the elderly may cause internal bleeding.
TREATMENT: Treatment is specific to the cause. If excessive blood, stop the flow of blood. Chronic loss of blood usually produces iron-deficiency anemia.
Due to excessive blood cell destruction: treatment of specific hemolytic disorder.
Due to decreased blood cell formation: replacement therapy to combat the specific deficiency (iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, ascorbic acid. Disorders of the bone marrow; marrow-stimulating drugs are given with antibiotics and possibly transfusions. See the doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
NUTRIENTS: Raw liver extract, 500 mg. twice daily or 2 cc injectable twice a week, contains all the elements needed for red blood cell production.
Blackstrap molasses, 1 tbsp. twice daily for adults; for children and babies add 1 tsp. to milk, contains iron and essential B vitamins.
Iron (ferrous gluconate), as prescribed by the doctor (Caution, an excess of iron can be toxic to the immune system).
Folic acid, 800 mcg. twice daily, is a readily absorbable form of iron.
Vitamin B12, 2,000 mcg. 3 times daily (injections are the most effective), is essential in red blood cell production.
Vitamin B complex with extra pantothenic acid, 50 mg. of each 3 times per day, are important in red blood cell production.
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), 50 mg. 3 times per day, aids red blood cell production.
Vitamin C, 3,000-10,000 mg. daily, is important for iron absorption.
Brewers Yeast, as directed on the label, is rich in basic nutrients.
Copper, 2 mg. daily, and Zinc, 30 mg. daily.
Raw spleen concentrate, use as directed on the label, is available in health food stores.
Vitamin A plus beta-carotene, 10,000 IU vitamin A daily, 15,000 IU beta-carotene per day, are important antioxidants.
Vitamin E emulsion, 600 IU daily, is an important antioxidant.
Excess serum iron has been linked to cancer. Use iron with caution, and only under a doctor's supervision.
The diet should include: blackstrap molasses, broccoli, egg yolks, leafy greens, legumes (peas, but not beans), parsley, prunes, raisins, rice bran, turnip greens, and whole grains. Fish eaten at the same times as vegetables containing iron increases iron absorption. Include foods with a high vitamin C content to aid iron absorption. Avoid bran as a fiber.
Foods that contain oxalic acid, which interferes with iron absorption, should be eaten in moderation or omitted. These include: almonds, asparagus, beets, cashews, chocolate, kale, rhubarb, soda, sorrel, spinach, Swiss chard, and most nuts and beans. Additives found in beer, candy bars, dairy products, ice cream, and soft drinks interfere with iron absorption, as do tannins in tea, polyphenols in coffee, lead found in various products, and cadmium from smoking.
Have a complete blood test to determine if you have an iron deficiency before taking iron supplements. Excessive iron can damage the liver, heart, pancreas, and lymphocyte (B-and T-cell) activity.
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