What is anaemia?
Anaemia is a state where either the erythrocytes (Red blood cells) count or the hemoglobin concentration, or both, falls below normal in the blood. Mild anaemia results in general weakness and tiredness; in case of severe anaemia, patient may suffer from breathlessness, giddiness, pale face and pain in the limbs with swollen feet.
What are the factors responsible for anaemia?
Anaemia can occur for many reasons. One of the factors may be hemorrhages like, menorrhea, hook worm infestation, piles or peptic ulcers. When erythrocytes break down faster than they are produced in the body, as in case of sickle cell disease, the condition results into hemolytic anaemia.
Besides this, there are other forms of anaemia such as Cooley's anaemia (caused by insufficient production of polypeptide chain of hemoglobin molecule) and Pernicious anaemia (caused by inability to absorb vitamin B12). Anaemia also results after chronic diseases such as kidney disorder and leukemia, a type of cancer. Malnutrition (diet deficient of one or more nutrients) may also lead to anaemia. Lead, arsenic, mercury, etc., that are present in the environment as pollutants (Metal toxicants) may cause the hemoglobin level to fall below normal.
Anaemia resulting from lack of folate or vitamin B12 is less common than iron deficiency anaemia. The latter occurs commonly amongst adolescent girls and in women at the time of pregnancy and prolonged lactation. Toddlers are also at risk because of low iron content in milk-based diet.
What is the normal value?
The normal erythrocyte count and hemoglobin level are usually slightly lower in women than in men. In an anaemic, the level of blood parameters falls below normal.
(million/ cu mm of blood)
(g/100 ml of blood)
Herbal treatment by tribals in Patalkot:
Tribals of Patalkot valley in Central India (http://dracharya.tripod.com/patal) prescribe the following formulation in case of weakness and anaemia.
Combination of herbs viz., Asparagus racemosus, Withania somnifera, Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus niruri, Tephrosia purpurea, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Tribulus terrestris, Chlorophytum arundinaceum and Spinacea oleracea
Drug preparation:Powder of Asparagus racemosus Roots (2 tbsp), Withania somnifera Roots (2 tbsp), Emblica officinalis Fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Phyllanthus niruri Leaves (1 tbsp), Tephrosia purpurea Leaves (1 tbsp), Glycyrrhiza glabra Roots (1 1/2 tbsp), Tribulus terrestris Roots (1 1/2 tbsp), Chlorophytum arundinaceum Roots (1 1/2 tbsp) and Spinacea oleracea Leaves (1 tbsp).
Plants and their vernacular names:
1. Asparagus racemosus Willd.
Bengali- Shatamuli; Gujarati- Ekalkanto, Satavari; Hindi- Chatwal, Satawar, Satmuli, Shakakul; Kannada- Aheruballi, Ashadhi, Majjigegadde, Sipariberuballi; Malayalam- Chatavali, Satavari; Marathi- Asvel, Shatavari, Shatmuli; Oriya- Chhotaru, Mohajolo, Sotabori; Sanskrit- Satavari; Tamil- Ammaikodi, Inli-chedi, Kadumulla, Shimai-shadavari; Telugu- Pilli-gaddalu, Toalb-gaddalu; Madhya Pradesh- Narbodh, Satmooli; Rajasthan- Norkanto, Satawar
2. Withania somnifera Dunal
Sanskrit- Ashwagandha, Turangi-gandha; Hindi- Punir, Asgandh; Bengali- Ashvaganda; Marathi-Askandha tilli; Gujarati- Ghodakun, Ghoda, Asoda, Asan; Telugu- Pulivendram, Panneru-gadda, Panneru; Tamil- Amukkura, Amkulang, Amukkuram-kilangu, Amulang-kalung (root), Aswagandhi; Kannada- Viremaddlinagadde, Pannaeru, Aswagandhi, Kiremallinagida; Punjabi- Asgand, Isgand; Rajasthani- Chirpotan
3. Emblica officinalis Gaertn. syn. Phyllanthus emblica Linn. (Emblic Myrobalan, Indian Goosberry)
Sanskrit-Adiphala, Dhatri, Amalaka; Hindi- Amla, Amlika, Aonla; Bengali-Akla, Amlaki; Gujarati- Amali, Ambala; Telugu- Amalakamu, Usirikai; Tamil- Nelli; Kannada- Amalaka, Nelli; Malayalam- Nelli.
4. Phyllanthus niruri Hook. f. P. fraternus Webster
Sanskrit- Bhumyamalaki, Bahupatri; Hindi- Jaramla, Jangli amli, Bhuinanvalah, Bhonyabali; Bengali- Bhui amla, Sadahazur-mani; Marathi- Bhuivali; Gujarat- Bhonya anmali; Telugu- Nela usirika; Tamil- Keela nelli; Kannada- Nela nelli, Kiranelli gida; Malayalam- Kizha nelli; Oriya- Bhui aola, Badianla
5. Tephrosia purpureaPers. (Wild Indigo)
Sanskrit- Sharapunkha; Hindi- Dhamasia, Sarphonka; Bengali- Ban-nil-gachh; Marathi- Sirapakha, udhadi, Un- hali; Gujarati- Ghodakan, Jhila, Sarphankho; Telugu-Vempali, Neelavempali, Bontavempali; Tamil- Kolingi, Paavali, Kat kolingi, Kolluk-kay-velai; Kannada- Empali, Vajaraneeli, Koggili; Malayalam- Kozhenjil, Kaata miri; Oriya- Kolothiyapokha, Mohisiakolothiga, Pokha, Soropokha, Punjabi- Bansa-bansu, Jhojhru.
6. Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (Licorice)
Sanskrit- Madhuka, Yashti-madhu; Hindi- Mulhatti, Jethi-madh; Bengali- Jashtimadhu, Jaishbomodhu; Marathi- Jeshta madha; Gujarati- Jethi madha; Telugu- Yashtimadhukam, Atimadhuramu; Tamil- Atimaduram; Kannada- Yashti madhuka, Atimadhura; Malayalam- Iratimadhuram
7. Tribulus terrestris Linn. (Land-caltrops, Puncture-vine)
Sanskrit- Gokshura, Ikshugancdha; Hindi- Gokhru; Bengali & Oriya- Gakhura, Gokshra; Marathi- Lahangokhru, Sarala, Sharatte; Gujarati- Betagokhru, Mithagokhru, Nahanagokhru; Telugu- Chinnipalleru, Chirupalleru, Pallerukayalu (fruits); Tamil & Malayalam- Nerunji, Nerinjeekai (fruits); Kannada- Sanna neggilu; Ladakh- Rasha, Kokulla; Punjabi- Lotak, Bakhra; Rajasthani- Gokhatri, Gokhru-bara, Kanti, Gokhrusdesi
8. Chlorophytum arundinaceum Baker
Hindi- Biskandri, Safed musli; Oriya- Bharat batuli; Sanskrit- Sweta-musli
9. Spinacia oleracea Linn. (Garden Spinach)
Hindi- Isfanaj, Palak; Bengali- Palang, Pinnis; Marathi and Gujarati- Palak; Telugu-Dumpabachhali, Matturbachhali; Tamil- Vasayleykiray; Kannada- Spinachsoppu, Spinaksoppu; Oriya- Palaksag, Mithapalanga. Punjabi- Palak, Isfanak, Valayati sag; Assamiya- Palangsag.
Traditional medicine system has been prevailing in India since time immemorial. Tribals of Central India mainly Gonds and Bharia have been using their traditional knowledge generation after generation to cure their disorders. Still, it is suggested to consult your family doctor before using any herbal formulation.
What can be done?
Once any form of anaemia has been detected, medically supervised supplement (iron/ folate tablets, etc.) should be followed regularly. Other than medication, here are some tips to keep a check on anaemia:
Eat iron rich food from animal sources, i.e., meat, poultry and liver. Such diet is easily absorbed by the body.
If one is a vegetarian, than supplement your diet with green leafy vegetables, grains, pulses, but at the same time don't forget to accompany your meal with vitamin C as it will improve the absorption of iron in the body.
Fortified breakfast cereals are a good source of iron.
What precautions can be taken?
Anaemic should avoid having tea with meals. Tannin present in the tea inhibits iron absorption by the body.
Liver is the richest source of iron but an anaemic should avoid eating it during pregnancy as it contains Vitamin A in excess which may cause birth defects.
Wheat bran and brown rice also inhibit iron absorption due to the presence of phytic acid.
Take regular morning walk to fill your lungs with fresh, oxygen-rich air. This form of exercise is gentle and easy to fit in your lifestyle. It will boost your sense of well-being and keep you mobile. Keep all the worries aside and try to be cheerful all the while.
Diet is an essential factor in the etiology and prevention of various health disorders. Proper diet, fresh air, regular walk and mental relaxation can help combat anaemia, add years to a quality life, lift your spirits and protect against the pressure of modern lifestyle.
About the Authors: Garima Sancheti- She is a research scholar, working at Department of Zoology, Radiation and Cancer Biology Laboratory, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India. She is currently working on herbs and their efficacy against cancer and radiation. She has to her credit various research papers in scientific journals as well as articles on web.
Dr Deepak Acharya- He is the Head of Pistiss Herbal Research Lab Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad, India.