TCM for Anaemia

Oct 07, 2010

What is Anaemia?

Anaemia is a condition rather than a disease itself that results due to a dysfunction in the body.  The condition indicates lower than normal levels of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the body. Red blood cells use haemoglobin (a protein) to carry oxygen around the body, which then in turn performs its various duties.  Low levels of hemoglobin and RBCs cause the blood supply insufficient amounts of Oxygen to the tissues, thus forcing the heart and lungs to work harder to pump additional oxygen to where it is needed.

Different types of Anaemia

  • Iron Deficiency Anaemia

This occurs when the body runs low on Iron, mainly due to inadequate dietary intake, diseases such as gastritis and stomach cancer, and menstruation.

  • Pernicious Anaemia (B12 Deficiency Anaemia)

This kind of Anaemia is caused by inadequate absorption of vitamin B12 from the diet. B12 if most commonly sourced from animal food sources thus placing vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk of developing pernicious Anaemia. It may also be caused by diseases that affect absorption such as stomach cancers, ulcers and small intestine disease.

  • Megobalstic Anaemia (Folic Acid Deficiency Anaemia) This type of Anaemia is usually caused by excessive alcohol consumption and inadequate intake of dietary folic acid.

Causes of Anaemia

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Blood loss, most often caused by heavy menstruation, trauma, surgery and disease.
  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Chronic diseases
  • Dietary deficiency, such as low dietary intakes of Vitamin B12, Iron and folic acid.
  • Medications, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and anti-coagulant drugs.
  • Hormone disorders
  • Infection
  • Inherited disorders
  • Malabsorption issues/conditions
  • Rapid Growth periods, such as puberty and pregnancy.

Symptoms of Anaemia

  • Abnormal food cravings
  • Angina
  • Appetite loss
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Orthostatic Hypertension – rapid drop in blood pressure upon standing from a lying/sitting position.
  • Pale skin
  • Reddened/ cracked tongue
  • Shortness of breath

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a broad term used to describe a number of Ancient Chinese healing practices, including massage, acupuncture and herbal Medicine. TCM takes a holistic approach to healing that attributes good health to the efficient flow of ‘qi’ (life force energy) along certain meridians (energy pathways) in the body. It sees ill health and disease as a result of blocked chi in the body which it aims to unblock and resolve via its many different modalities.

How does TCM treat Anaemia?

TCM sees symptoms of Anaemia as indicative of blood that has become too thick, too poor in quality or produced in too little amount (no matter what type of Anaemia is presenting). This is seen to be due to an insufficient flow of ‘qi’ energy, and resolved by stimulating individual organs to produce better quality blood hence an improved flow of qi.

Acupuncture for Anaemia

Acupuncture employs the use of thin needles on the skin to restore the flow of qi and consequent health to the body. When treating Anaemia, a TCM practitioner will stimulate points that increase a flow of qi to the stomach, liver and blood-producing spleen.

Chinese herbs for Anaemia

Chinese herbalists may use singular or a combination of herbs to treat symptoms of Anaemia. These herbs aim to improve blood supply and the movement of qi throughout the body. Some of these include:

  • White Atractylodes rhizome-, which provides the body with qi and improves the quality of the Spleen.
  • Angelica, which invigorates and harmonizes the blood, tonifies (strengthens) blood, and dispels cold.
  • Dang shen - for nourishing the blood and body energy.
  • Licorice root, which tonifies stomach and spleen qi.
  • Astragalus propinquus, which tonifies blood and spleen qi.
  • Deer antler, which strengthens yang energy whilst tonifying the blood and qi.
  • Rehmannia, which nourishes yin energy and stimulates fluid production.
  • White peony rhizome, which nourishes the blood and astringes yin energy.

Chinese Massage (Tui Na) for Anaemia

Chinese massage works on a similar sort of principle to that of acupuncture as it stimulates certain points on the body to increase the flow of qi around it. Anaemia if often treated by Chinese masseuses who focus on hand and foot massage to stimulate the production of blood in the spleen and the overall flow of qi energy around the body.

If you are interested in finding out more on how TCM practices may assist with Anaemia, please speak to a professional TCM practitioner for more information.

Find more information about effective natural treatments for anaemia.

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Wellness inspiration of the week

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. — MARCUS AURELIUS