I N AYURVEDA, anaemia is known as pandu. The term anaemia means lack of red blood corpuscles or of haemoglobin. It may be caused by
- haemorrhages from the body by injury, bleeding piles, or bleeding from nose, mouth, lungs, anus, genital tract, etc.,
- inadequate supply of blood-forming ingredients through food. Dietary iron, vitamin B-12, and folate are essential for red blood cells to mature in the body.
- destruction of the blood corpuscles inside the body after they are formed,
- deficiency in the production of blood because of defective functioning of some organs of the body like stomach, liver and bone-marrow.
Oxygen is very important for the maintenance and functioning of body cells, and this oxygen is carried from the lungs to different parts of the body through the red blood corpuscles. When blood is deficient, the patient suffers from weakness even after a little work and there is evident paleness in the face as well as other parts of the body.
Factors that decrease red blood cell production include:
- inadequate stimulation of red blood cell production by the hormone erythropoietin, which is produced by the kidneys
- inadequate dietary intake of iron, vitamin B-12, or folate
On the other hand, any disorder that destroys red blood cells at a rate that’s faster than they’re made can cause anemia. Factors that increase red blood cell destruction include:
- hemorrhage from:
- gastrointestinal lesions
- excessive uterine bleeding
- cirrhosis, which involves scarring of the liver
- fibrosis, or scar tissue, within the bone marrow
- hemolysis, which is the rupture of red blood cells that can occur with some medications or Rh incompatibility
- disorders of the liver and spleen
- genetic disorders such as:
- glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency
- sickle cell anemia
Overall, however, iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. Iron intake is a major index for the health assessment of nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 2 billion people worldwide have anemia, and many have it because of iron deficiency.
What Are the Symptoms of Anemia?
The symptoms of anemia vary according to the type of anemia, the underlying cause, the severity and any underlying health problems, such as hemorrhaging, ulcers, menstrual problems, or cancer. Specific symptoms of those problems may be noticed first.
The body also has a remarkable ability to compensate for early anemia. If your anemia is mild or has developed over a long period of time, you may not notice any symptoms.
Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:
- Easy fatigue and loss of energy
- Unusually rapid heart beat, particularly with exercise
- Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise
- Difficulty concentrating
- Pale skin
- Leg cramps
Other symptoms are associated with specific forms of anemia.
There are different causes for the bleeding from different parts of the body , and if the anaemia is due to any one of these, then the cause of the bleed!ng is to be treated first.
For nutritional deficiency, food ingredients containing iron are to be taken.
If the pandu roga is caused by the malfunction of any of the organs or viscera of the body · like liver, stomach and bone-marrow, then the medicine commonly used by expert Ayurvedic physicians is Punarnavadi mandura or Punarnava mandura which contains about 22 ingredients. The most important ingredient of this formula is mandura which is a by-product of iron-ore and is. considered to be rich in an assimilable form of iron. Various. pharmaceutical processes have been prescribed for preparing it in powder or bhasma form and also to make it moreassimilable.
Punarnava, the next important drug in this formula, possesses rejuvenating properties. The viscera or part thereof, the vitiation of which produces anaemia, gets rejuvenated by the use of this drug. Other drugs included in this formula also stimulate the affected organs and regulate their functions. Some of them increase the appetite of the patient, and thus, food is properly digested, absorbed and assimilated.This medicine has no toxicity, It can be given even to a healthy man, and it will serve as an elixir.
Normally 15 grains of this drug is given, four times a. day. This should be well mixed with honey or any other suitable syrup and made to the consistency of a linctus and taken. For children, the dose may be proportionately reduced.
In pandu raga, sour things specially curd, and fried things, which come in the way of the normal functioning of the liver, are prohibited. Green vegetables are considered to be useful. Sweets prepared by adding til seeds in a syrup prepared of jaggery (sugar candy) is considered to be very useful. This is specifically given when the liver function is affected. The outer of husk of til seed contains a lot of iron, and therefore, it should not be removed while preparing sweets.
Good sources of dietary iron include:
- chicken and beef liver
- dark turkey meat
- red meats, such as beef
- fortified cereals
Folate is the form of folic acid that occurs naturally in the body. Males and females over the age of 14 require 400 micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (mcg/DFE) per day. For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the recommended intake increases to 600 mcg/DFE (pregnant) and 500 mcg/DFE (lactating) per day.
Examples of foods rich in folate are:
- beef liver
- great northern beans
You can also add folic acid to your diet with fortified cereals and breads.
The daily adult recommendation for vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg. Women and teens who are pregnant need 2.6 mcg per day, and women who are breastfeeding require 2.8 mcg daily.
Beef liver and clams are two of the best sources of vitamin B-12. Other good sources include:
- other dairy products
Vitamin B-12 is also available as a supplement for those who don’t get enough from their diet alone.
Pandu roga, according to Ayurveda, is considered to be caused by the vitiation of pitta. Purgation is considered to be the best therapy for correcting pitta. Therefore, while treating a case, constipation is corrected in the first instance. In a constipated patient, the medicines mentioned above do not work well. Punarnava mandura, itself, works as a mild laxative when administered in a large dose. But if the patient remains constipated even thereafter, tripliala water is prescribed to be taken every day in the morning, on an empty stomach apart from the medicines described above, there are many other medicines mentioned in Ayurveda, which are to be given in specific types of anaemia. Some of these medicines may become a little toxic if not used in the proper dose. In serious cases of anaemia, these drugs are to be used under the proper supervision of an Ayurvedic physician.