means " lacking in blood ", is among the most common diseases affecting
human beings. It denotes a shortage of rich red blood cells and colouring
matter and usually results from 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 colouring matter, called haemoglobin is a protein which is composed
of an organic iron-compound called "heme". The globin is a sulphur -bearing
protein which makes up 96 per cent of the molecule. The formation of
haemoglobin 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 per cent haemoglobin 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 anaemia and a
consequent decreased ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the tissues.
A haggard look, with lines of
strain, premature wrinkles, grayish skin, and dull and tired looking eyes
are the main symptoms of anaemia. 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 complaints of weakness,
easy fatigue, lack of energy and dizziness.
There are two principal causes of
anaemia. It can result from 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 anaemia. A lack of digestive acid of
hydrochloric acid needed for digestion of iron and proteins may also result
in anaemia. Emotional strain, anxiety and worry usually interfere with the
manufacture of hydrochloric acid in the body. Anaemia can also be caused by
a variety of drugs which destroy vitamin E or by others which inactivate the
nutrients needed in building blood cells. Chronic diseases such as
tuberculosis, when accompanied by hemorrhage, may also result in anaemia.
Other little-known causes of anaemia are intestinal parasites or worms.
Hookworm, pinworms, round worms 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 acute shortage of vitamin B12.
Symptoms of intestinal worms are itching at the rectum, restlessness at
night with bad dreams, diarrhoea, 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 recurrence.
Anaemia 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 anaemia.
Diet is of the utmost importance in the treatment of anaemia. Almost every
nutrient is needed for the production of red blood cells, haemoglobin 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 haemoglobin. 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 utilisation of iron in the building of haemoglobin.
Vitamin B12 is a must for preventing or curing anaemia. This vitamin is
usually found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney
and liver. A heavy meat diet is often associated with a high haemoglobin and
high red cell count, but it has its disadvantages. One cause of anaemia 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, peanuts. Wheat germ and soyabeans also contain some B12.
Vegetarians should include sizeable amounts of milk, milk products and eggs
in their diet.
For prevention of anaemia, it is essential to take the entire B-complex
range which includes B12, as well as the natural foods mentioned above.
Eating lacto-avo products, which 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 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
anaemia. Beet juice contains potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulphur,
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.
A cold water bath is among the
most valuable curative measures in anaemia. The patient should be given
carefully graduated cold baths twice daily. Cold friction, hot epsom salt
bath for five to 10 minutes once a week and an occassional cabinet steam
bath are also recommended. Full sun baths are especially beneficial as
sunlight stimulates the production of red cells.
There are other important factors which are helpful in curing anaemia. Deep
breathing and light exercise 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.