Ayurveda’s Holistic Diet, Lifestyle, Management and Herbal Remedies For Anemia
Anemia treatment in the light of ayurvedic medicine presents the holistic approach for its management. This approach depends on clinical features, pathogenesis, diet and lifestyle, panchakarma purification, herbs and herbal formulation.
The treatment is accomplished by holistic measures like herbs for anemia, herbal supplements, diet, lifestyle and by keeping the emotional health in Ayurvedic Medicine. Find more info about signs and symptoms, causes and its types.
In ancient ayurvedic medicine, the sign and symptoms are clearly stated as when the person loses his natural color and it appears whitish particularly on skin, nails, tongue and eyes. The person appears lethargic, flaccid and exhausted. These signs and symptoms are typical of anemia.
Diet And Lifestyle Related Causes Of Anemia:
Definitely anemia is due to lack of iron in diet or other processes that take it from our diet to hemoglobin in cells. Any average person is not aware of this factor when he is eating. So there are another set of criteria is given in Ayurvedic medicine.
Treatment for Anemia in ayurvedic medicine needs all these factors – dietary, lifestyle and emotional – to be considered.
- Too much use of alkaline, acidic, salty and hot food can lead to anemia. Alkaline, acidic and salted food disturb the ph in the gut and in blood.
- Another class of food is possessing opposite properties. The opposing active principle in food material exert degenerating effect in the long term. Common example is taking sweet milk with salt.
- Excessive use of Alcohol.
- Eating a lot of heavy to digest food. It can alter the normal digestion and absorption of nutrients from food.
- Eating soil, gnawing at the nails are other common factors that can cause anemia.
Lifestyle Related Factors:
- Overdoing the strenuous exercises and excessive sexual intercourse are also related to anemia.
- Wrong use of Ayurvedic Panchakarma purification therapy.
- Seasonal upsets like change in the rhythm of climate and seasons of a particular place. Seasonal disturbances are deeply related to our ecosystem, environment and pollution level so they must not be overlooked.
- Retaining the natural urges of urine, stool etc.
Excessive anxiety, worry, fear, grief, and sexually perverted state of mind are also related to anemia. The commonsense reason is that under such circumstances, one tend to eat sparingly or to overeat.
The second reason is that such emotional upsets cause imbalance of autonomic nervous system – increase in sympathetic activity and suppression of parasympathetic activity – and both of these are detrimental to proper digestion and absorption.
The Pathogenesis Of Anemia In Ayurvedic Medicine:
The dietary, lifestyle and psychological factors vitiates Pitta, it gets accumulated and then it spreads and vitiates Sadhaka Pitta in heart (The main Pitta). Vata circulates it throughout the body and produces Anemia. This description is more medical (related to ayurvedic medicine) and you don’t need to understand it if you are not a ayurvedic student!
Knowing Signs & Symptoms Is Also Essential For Anemia Treatment:
Prodromal symptoms are present before the actual clinical features of anemia appear. They indicate toward anemia.
- Tachycardia – the rate of heart beat increases at rest and during work or exercise.
- Lack of sweating.
- Tendency of cracks in skin.
- Increased quantity of saliva in mouth.
- lethargy or looseness in body.
- Inclination to eat soil.
- Swelling below the eye.
- Yellowish discoloration of stool and urine.
General Symptoms And Signs Of Anemia:
- Lack of blood or hemoglobin.
- Lack of fat or lean and thin body.
- Not feeling energetic.
- Discoloration of complexion.
- Looseness of body, laxity and flaccidity.
Types Of Anemia:
Ayurvedic medicine describes five basic types of anemia – Vata dominant, Pitta dominant, Kapha dominant, all three humors, soil eating related. Anemia treatments need to be customized to each different type.
Clinical Features Of Vata Dominant Anemia:
- Dryness in the body and blackish or brownish discoloration of complexion is present.
- There is needle prick like pain, tremors, flatulence, vertigo, piercing pain in joints, and general body ache.
Clinical Features Of Pitta Dominant Anemia:
- Yellowish tinge in stool, urine and eyes.
- Burning sensation in body, thirst and increased body temperature.
- Bitter taste in mouth, sour belching and indigestion.
Clinical Features Of Kapha Dominant Anemia:
- Secretion of Saliva.
- Drowsiness or sleepiness and heaviness in body.
- Edema or swelling in body.
- Whitish complexion of skin, urine, stool and face.
Anemia With All The Three Humors:
- Nausea, vomiting, indigestion.
- Excessive fatigue at rest and inability to do work.
- Very weakness, inability to perceive sensations properly i.e. to see through eyes, to hear through ears.
Anemia As A complication Of Eating Soil:
Eating soil is a habit that is present in females and children especially in villages. It is an indirect indication of anemia and can cause anemia.
Soil can vitiate any one or two or all the three humors depending upon its taste – astringent soil vitiating Vata, alkaline soil vitiating Pitta, sweet soil vitiating Kapha.
Besides vitiating humors, soil gets stuck in gut and interferes with absorption. There are added dangers for infection and worm infestation.
Clinical Features Of Anemia Due To Soil Eating:
- Edema or swelling below the eyes, on cheeks, eyebrows, lower limbs, and abdomen.
- Worm infestation in gut.
- Loose motion mixed with blood and mucus.
- Loss of strength, digestive power and complexion.
Complications In Treating Anemia:
Some of these symptoms indicate that anemia has progressed and moved to complicated stage. This stage requires prolonged treatment.
- Chronic or old case.
- Very much dryness in body.
- Yellowish discoloration of body with edema.
- Scanty, formed, greenish stool with mucus.
- Numbness in skin.
- With excessive thirst, nausea and syncope.
- Swelling on extremities and middle body thin, swelling on middle body with thin extremities.
- Edema on penis, scrotal sac and anal area.
- Enervated and exhausted look.
- Hyperpyrexia or temperature is raised.
- Uncontrollable diarrhea.
List of Anemia Treatments In Ayurvedic Medicine:
Ayurvedic treatment is done according to following principles.
- Avoidance of all the dietary, lifestyle and emotional factors that cause anemia is essential to treatment.
- Panchakarma Purification Therapy – First give internal Oleation and then use induced purgation. By doing this panchakarma purification first, the efficacy of herbs is increased for treatment.
- Diet and herbs in for treating anemia should be in accordance with affected bodily humors.
Herbal Treatments for Anemia
Herbs for anemia are a good and natural way to improve this condition. Herbal remedies prove to be a good alternative or adjuvant with iron supplements.
Why should herbs be taken?
Most of the botanicals are not having good percentage of iron as compared directly with iron supplement pills. But there are several reasons for the use of herbal anemia supplements.
- Most of iron supplements have more iron that our system or gut can tolerate or handle and that is excreted out unused.
- This extra iron produce additional discomforts stomach upsets like nausea, constipation and sometimes diarrhea.
- Another reason is valid for all vitamins supplements – we should take vitamin and mineral supplements in the form of tablets and capsules only in the short term to overcome the initial condition. After that phase is over, we should take herbs, proper diet to get that vitamin and mineral supplement. By continuing to take the pure form of vitamin and mineral supplements, we are restricting the use of our intestine and digestive system to extract out that supplement from our diet or herbs.
- Usually iron is not sufficient alone. Vitamin C, folic acid, Vit. B12 are needed along with Iron. And all of these can be had with balanced diet, salads, vegetables and fruits.
- One of the best choice is to have supplements that use iron along with herbs. In Ayurvedic Medicine, we have a very good number of such supplements that can be use for anemia as well as other related disorders.
Specific Herbs For Anemia:
Every traditional herbal system such as Ayurveda, Chinese herbal system possess its own recommended list of herbs for anemia. Let is get the benefits of all.
- Yellow Dock Root
- Stinging Nettle
- Stinging Nettle with Red raspberry leaf and oat straw herb
- Dandelion and Burdock root
- Dong quai
- Liquid Chlorophyll
- Codonopsis root
- Pau d’arco
- Emblic myrobalan or Amla
- Jujube date
- Longan berries
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Parsley root
Some Chinese Herbs For Anemia:
- Da zao
- Dang quai
- Dang shen
- A Jiao
- He Shou Wu
- Huang Jing
- Long Yan Rou
- Sang Shen
- Zi He Che
- Codonopsis root
Ayurvedic Herbs For Anemia:
- Amla or Emblic myrobalan or Emblica officinalis
- Vasa or Adhatoda vasika
- Coccus lacca
- Physalis species – Physalis indica or Winter cherry, Physalis minima or Tankari or Cape Gooseberry, Physalis peruviana or Tipari or Cape gooseberry
- Trigonella foenum graeceum or Methika or Fenugreek
- Vitis vinifera
Yellow Dock Root:
This common roadside weed has the ability to raise the hemoglobin in weeks. It can be taken in the form of tincture or capsules. The high dosage of yellow dock root can cause diarrhea in some individuals.
Stinging nettle or nettle leaf is better taken after cooking and eating it like spinach. Nettle leaf contain stinging irritant to skin so it should be used after boiling. Some persons find that adding red raspberry, oat straw herb and anise seeds potentiate the effect of nettle leaf on anemia.
Dandelion And Burdock Root:
The combination of Dandelion and Burdock root is used for anemia treatment. They might increase the ability of body to absorb iron from food in a better way.
Probably the tonic or rejuvenative effect of alfalfa is the reason to use it as herbal anemia supplement. And it is a better choice.
Amla Or Emblic Myrobalan:
This wonderful fruit is a great source of Vitamin C and is a well recommended tonic, antioxidant and adaptogen in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is in use in so many forms in Ayurveda. One form is particularly good for children and pregnant ladies. This is Amla Murabba in which fresh and green Amla fruits are preserved in sugar syrup. This can be taken daily.
This nutritional supplement is used in Western Medicine and it is used to readily raise hemoglobin level. It is found to be safe in pregnancy.
Other Herbs For Anemia:
Out of all these herbs for anemia, the main herbs have been briefed above. Alfalafa, Ginseng, Codonopsis and Spirulina are used for the tonic properties and these can support the herbs for anemia.
Personally, I am not in favor of Dang quai and Parsley because they are stimulant herbs that have blood thinning properties and sometimes can cause bleeding in susceptible individuals. Simply their profiles didn’t match much.
Ginger and fenugreek are also supportive to herbs for anemia. Jujube date and Vitis vinifera are great fruits that can be eaten otherwise as well. Other herbs are given more for description or information purpose.
Different Forms Of Herbs For Anemia:
Herbal tea or decoction or infusions are a better way to take these herbal supplements for anemia. Their taste is not good usually so some sugar can be added if you are not diabetic. Honey can be added when the preparation is lukewarm only.
Second common form is tinctures with alcohol. There is availability of capsules or tablets containing powders or extracts. It is better to take capsules containing extracts because lesser quantity will be sufficient. Another form is also in use – Glycerites, these doesn’t contain alcohol.
Anemia Herbal Supplements
Anemia herbal supplements are not that much familiar but we use many herbs based natural iron formulations in ayurvedic medicine. This kind of preparations are not popular outside India or Ayurvedic Medicine.
About The Ingredients:
Ayurvedic formulations for anemic patients have two kinds of ingredients chiefly. The first one is a group of powders of selected herbs. Herbs play a supporting and additive role in the formulation.
The second part consists of iron compounds that are prepared according to Ayurvedic guidelines. Crude iron is purified through several steps by heating it red hot and then dipping it in herbal decoctions. Then it is processed with herbal decoctions and it is heated in a controlled manner.
This process is repeated several times. What we have in the end is some iron compounds that are mild and with high bioavailability. This organic form of iron is readily absorbed in the intestine and its efficacy is highly increased as a result of this special processing method.
The Different Forms Of Iron In Anemia Herbal Supplements:
In Ayurveda, we have several ‘bhasmas’ or ashes of metals and minerals. With ayurvedic processing, their toxic effects and side effects are neutralized and potent medicinal properties are infused in them.
Several types of ‘bhasmas’ have iron – Mandura, Abhraka, Suvarna Makshika, Kanta Lauha are the most commonly used ones. Mandura is the mildest of the four and Kanta Lauha is the strongest one.
Now many good pharmaceutical companies of Ayurveda have many kinds of analysis of these preparations and they are found highly effective, safe and without side effects. Some of the common tests are – chemical analysis, toxicology studies, HPTLC studies etc.
The Nomenclature Of Anemia Herbal Supplements:
The classical herbal formulations of ayurveda have two descriptive parts in their name – the first part is after the chief herb that it contains or the disease it is used for; the second part informs about one of the types or forms of iron.
For example, Punarnavadi Mandura contains Punarnava (Spreading Hogweed or Boerhavia diffusa) as the chief herb and Mandura form of Iron. Karshayahara Lauha is used for gaining weight and has Lauha form of Iron.
Some Ayurveda Anemia Herbal Formulations:
We will share some of the commonly used ayurvedic herbal formulations for anemia. Though there are more than fifty of Iron containing herbal formulations in use, we are providing information about only some of them that are more frequently used and that are found effective and are supported by most of the ayurveda practitioners.
Navayasa Lauha is used in ayurvedic medicine for anemia, indigestion and loss of appetite. This is very good for iron deficiency anemia and anemia after infections and jaundice.
Tapyadi Lauha is a great anemia herbal supplement that has three forms of iron in it. It is used in anemia after malaria, anemia after liver and spleen disorders, anemia with edema and anemia due to heavy menstrual bleeding.
Triphaladi Lauha is a relatively soft ayurvedic formulation with Trifla or triple myrobalans (Chebulic, Emblic and Beleric Myrobalans) as the main herbs. It is especially good for those who get constipated with iron preparations.
Dhatri Lauha is the mildest formulation among anemia herbal supplements. Iron is present as Lauha form and Amla (Emblic myrobalan or Emblica officinalis) and Mulethi (licorice or liquorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra) herbs are also present.
Dhatri Lauha can be used in anemia associated with gastric or peptic or intestinal ulcer. Most of iron preparations cause some disturbance of gastro-intestinal tract but this soft preparation is the first choice in those who are not able to take iron supplements due to disturbances of digestive system.
Punaranavadi Mandura contains the soft Mandura form of Iron and it is fortified with herbs like Punarnava (Spreading Hogweed or Boerhavia diffusa) and Kutaki (Picrorhiza or Picrorhiza kurrroa). Punaravanavadi Mandura is useful in anemia associated with inflammatory disorders, hepatitis and edema.