Occurs for various reasons, but essentially means that blood does not carry enough oxygen; classic symptoms are pallor, tiredness, breathlessness, and Palpitations.
The various types of anaemia are classified according to decreased or defective production of red cells by the bone marrow, or because of decreased survival of the red cells in the blood.
The most prevalent form of anaemia, affecting mainly women; cause is lack of iron, essential for formation of oxygen-carrying pigment haemoglobin. Iron may be lacking in diet, or not absorbed properly (as in coeliac disease); or iron stores may be depleted by pregnancy or blood loss (perhaps because of injury, but also because of periods or internal bleeding from Peptic Ulcers, Piles, or Cancer of gastrointestinal tract); or, in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or chronic Kidney Failure, body may be unable to use its iron reserves. In addition to causing pallor and fatigue, iron deficiency lowers resistance to infection, especially to thrush (see Oral Thrush, Vaginal and Vulva Problems, Penis Problems). If you suspect you are anaemic, see your medical doctor; it is important that underlying cause is diagnosed. Iron tablets or injections may solve the problem, but if iron depletion is very severe blood transfusions may be necessary.
Provided steps are being taken to remedy iron deficiency, the specific remedies below are recommended.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anaemia
Like iron, B12 is essential for formation of haemoglobin, but because such small amounts are needed anaemia may take 2-3 years to develop. Diet may be deficient (vegans are particularly at risk), or small intestine may be unable to absorb vitamin (as happens in Crohn's Disease and Coeliac disease), or stomach may not secrete enough of special factor which enables vitamin to be absorbed - this last condition is known as pernicious anaemia. Symptoms of anaemia caused by B12 deficiency are fatigue, pallor, breathlessness, yellowish skin, Abdominal Pain, Weight Loss, loss of appetite (see Appetite Changes), and sometimes neurological impairment - poor balance, tingling extremities, Confusion, Depression. If poor absorption is the problem, regular injections of B12 will be necessary; otherwise treatment is dietary. Provided deficiency is being made up, the remedy below may be used; if there is no improvement within a month or so, see your homeopath.
Self-help: A varied diet, even a mainly vegetarian diet, provides adequate amounts of B12, but a vegan diet does not. Healthfood shops stock many products containing B12 specially for vegans; yeast extract is also a good source.
Affects pregnant women and elderly people more than other groups, and can onset within a few weeks; again, folic acid (folate) is one of those nutrients vital to haemoglobin formation. Either diet is to blame (not enough green vegetables) or there is an absorption problem, as in Coeliac disease. Symptoms are those of anaemia generally. Orthodox treatment is to give high doses of folic acid (folate). WARNING: do not continue taking folic acid (folate) supplements for longer than your medical doctor advises - they may mask a B12 deficiency which could lead to neurological damage.
Sickle Cell Anaemia
Red blood cells are misshapen because the haemoglobin in them has an abnormal structure; condition is inherited, and mainly occurs in people of African or West Indian descent. Under certain conditions - during infections, surgery, or flying, for example - sickled red blood cells tend to get stuck in small blood vessels, causing oxygen shortage in surrounding tissues; results may be life-threatening - Stroke, Heart Failure, Kidney Failure - depending on location of blocked blood vessels. Characteristic symptom during such crises is pain in limb bones, joints, or abdomen; at other times, all the usual symptoms of anaemia are present. Painkillers and antibiotics may be prescribed during crises, but there is no cure. Homeopathic treatment is constitutional, aimed at maximising strengths and minimising weaknesses so that condition puts as little strain on body as possible.
Self-help: Vitamin E is recommended, but check with your medical doctor first if you have high blood pressure or are taking anticoagulants
A hereditary form of anaemia, mainly affecting people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Far Eastern origin; fewer red blood cells are produced than is normal, and these contain immature haemoglobin (haemoglobin F) which is destroyed more quickly than normal haemoglobin. Symptoms are those of anaemia generally; a thalassaemic child tends not to be able to keep up with age mates. In severe cases (where defective gene is inherited from both parents), survival is not possible without regular blood transfusions and drugs to counteract resultant build-up of iron. Homeopathic treatment is constitutional, its aim being to minimize weaknesses and maximise strengths so that the condition stresses the body as little as possible.
Self-help: Vitamin E is recommended, but check with your medical doctor first if you have high blood pressure or are taking anticoagulants.
Red blood cells are destroyed more quickly than they are replaced; this happens if they have been damaged by drugs, have not been manufactured properly, contain abnormal haemoglobin (as in sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia), or are mistaken for foreign cells and destroyed by antibodies (as in rhesus incompatibility, Autoimmune Disease). In addition to the usual symptoms of anaemia, there may be mild Fever and vomiting, Jaundice, and darker than normal urine. Conventionally treated by withdrawing causative drugs, or removing spleen (responsible for destroying red blood cells), or giving steroids if autoimmune system is at fault. Homeopathy offers constitutional treatment.
Aplastic Anaemia (also called Aplasia)
Production of blood cells (red and white) and blood platelets in bone marrow falls dramatically; certain drugs, toxic chemicals, and radiation may be the cause, or condition may develop for no obvious reason. Result is anaemia, low resistance to infection, and spontaneous bruising or bleeding; in severe cases, infection or bleeding may be fatal within a year of onset. Orthodox treatment consists of blood transfusions, antibiotics, and drugs to stimsulate bone marrow; if these do not keep condition at bay or even reverse it, a bone marrow graft may be necessary. Constitutional homeopathic treatment is recommended in addition to orthodox treatment.
Specific remedies to be taken every 12 hours for up to 2 weeks
- Anaemia due to blood loss, oversensitivity, chilliness, exhaustion China 30c
- Face pale but flushes easily, generally robust appearance, oversensitivity Ferrum 30c
- Constipation, dull or muddy complexion, headache, dry mouth and lips, tendency to cold sores Natrum mur. 30c
- Anaemia during growth spurt (during first two years of life or during adolescence), irritability, poor digestion Calcarea phos. 30c
- Anaemia coupled with mental overload Picric ac. 30c
Self-help: Make sure your diet contains plenty of iron-rich foods and Vitamin C. This is especially important if you are a vegetarian since wholegrains and pulses bind iron, limiting absorption. Avoid drinking tea at mealtimes - the tannin in it makes iron absorption less efficient. Calc. phos. and Ferrum phos. tissue salts are also recommended.