Anemia is the medical term for the condition of decreased hemoglobin percentage. It means, reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. People usually understand this condition as ‘reduced blood’.
Normal Hb% : Males – 13.5 – 18 g/dL.
Females – 12 – 16 g/dL
Children – 11 -16 g/dL
If the percentage reduces beyond this level, the condition is referred to as anemia. In Ayurveda system of medicine, it is correlated with a disease named Pandu. Word meaning of Pandu is pallor. As the body color changes to pale yellow or pallor (husky white), this condition is referred to as Pandu.
Traditional Ayurveda references, causes for the manifestation of anemia, clinical features and line of treatments are mentioned below. Few of the effective formulations of my clinical experience are also included along with the diet restrictions.
Usual clinical presentation
Debility, lethargy, loss of interest in work, breathlessness during stepping up, worm infestation, giddiness, sleepiness/drowsiness etc.
Pallor of the body, dryness, body ache, numbness, edema ,yellow discoloration of urine, loss of body luster, head ache, giddiness etc
Reasons for manifestation
Reasons for the manifestation of Anemia:
1. Heavy exercise (vyayama)- Excess of work, mental strain, loss of sleep etc lead to indigestion and mal-absorption and hence the required nutrients are not absorbed properly.
2. Sour and salty food (Amla-lavana ahara) – Intake of large amount of salty and sour substances lead to reduced circulation and cause tissue toxicity and hence the damage to the body parts (organs).
3. Alcohol intake (Madyapana) – Liver and spleen are the master organs in relation to the hemopoietic system. As the alcohol is the main cause for hepatic toxicity considerable burden is caused to the relative organs and hence direct effect is produced on the blood and its circulation.
4. Day sleep/sedentary life (diwaswapna/aalasya) – Proper body exercise is essential for the proper metabolism of the food. Sedentary life, reduced exercise, day sleep etc lead into the improper digestion and metabolism; hence they become the reason for nutritional deficiencies.
5. Food which are spicy and penetrating / causing burning sensation (teekshna-vidahi ahara) – Regular intake of food and beverages which are spicy, penetrative, burning in nature etc cause damage to the tissues and organs. Ultimately they act as the free radicals and hinder the free flow / movement of the essential nutrients.
6. Intake of mud (mridbhakshana) – Even though it is uncommon now-a days to find mud intake as a cause (directly), still in undeveloped parts of the country and in areas where people are not aware of bare foot walking, defecation in the public (outskirts) etc, the infected soil goes inside the body and causes infection or damage to the internal organs. As today the industries are developing rapidly, the wastes flushed out by these industries are not managed properly. Those chemicals are mixed-up with the soil and water and the same effect of ‘mud consumption’ may result.
In olden days, as this was very common, they have highlighted it as a separate reason for anemia (as mridbhakshana janya pandu).
Origin of the disease
Due to the above said causative factors the digestive fire is hampered directly or indirectly and hence proper nutrients are not absorbed in the required amount. This leads to poor nourishment of Rasa dhatu and thus the Rakta dhatu (which is nourished by Rasa dhatu) which declines in terms of its quality and quantity. Thus the disease Pandu (anaemia) is resulted.
Types of the disease
According to the doshic vitiation, Pandu roga is mentioned as 5 types.
Features of each type of Anemia:
a) Vatic anemia – Dryness of the skin and eyes, reduced urine output, black discoloration, tremors, pricking sensation, burning sensation and giddiness.
b) Paittic anemia – Yellow discoloration of the skin, urine and eyes, burning, thirst, fever, diarrhoea and dark yellow discoloration of the body parts.
c) Kaphaja anemia – White discoloration of skin, urine and eyes, nausea, oedema, drowsiness, laziness and heaviness of the body parts.
d) Tridoshic anemia – Mixed features of all the above said three kinds of anemia.
e) Anemia due to mud intake (originated by soil contamination) – Dryness of the body, fatigue, indigestion, debility of the sense organs, loss of libido and luster of the body, swelling beneath the eyes, chin, foot, umbilical area and genitalia, diarrhea and stool with blood are found.
Line of treatment
In severe conditions, after purification (by Vamana – emesis and Virechana – purgation) various medicines are administered along with honey, ghee and sources of loha (iron resources like loha bhasma, lohasava etc). Based upon the severity of the illness, stage of the disease and one’s body constitution the apt formulation is selected. It is very essential to take suitable wormicidal medicines (krimighna yoga) before starting the medication for pandu (anemia).
Single drugs in anemia
Amalaki – Emblica officinalis Gaertn.
Punarnava – Boerhavia diffusa Linn.
Bhringaraja – Eclipta alba (Linn) Hassk.
Draksha – Vitis vinifera Linn.
Pippali – Piper longum Linn.
Haritaki – Terminalia chebula Retz.
Musta – Cyperus rotundus Linn.
Vidanga – Embelia ribes Burm. F.
Kumari – Aloe vera Tourn. Ex. Linn.
Guduchi – Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers.
Shunti – Ginger – Zingiber officinale Rose.
Shilajatu – Asphaltum punjabinum (Black bitumen)
Daruharidra – Berberis aristata Dc.
Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus Willd.
Whole wheat bread
Tomatoes – Vitamin C is the main ingredient in tomatoes along with lycopene. Vitamin C in tomatoes helps in easy absorption of iron. Tomatoes are also rich in beta carotene and Vitamins E and hence help in natural conditioning of the hair and skin.
Beans (kidney, lima, Navy) – Beans are a great source of iron and vitamins. Soybeans are considered to be the beans that has high iron content. It contains phytic acid that prevents the absorption of iron. Soybean is a low fat and high protein food that fights anemia.
Nuts – Nuts are a great source of iron and will help you to easily boost the iron levels in your body. It helps you immensely to gain iron levels in your body even when you are on the move.
Apple And Dates
Formulations useful in this condition:
Read related: Gudashtaka – Effective remedy for Anaemia
Navayasa loha choorna
Saptamrita loha choorna
Wholesome diet and habits
Barley, wheat, red rice, flesh of the desert animals, green gram, red spinach, milk, buttermilk, brinjal, guava, inflorescence of banana, leaves of drumstick, sugarcane juice, dry grapes, well ripened banana, pomegranate, gooseberry, ghee, lemon etc.
Unwholesome diet and habits
Sour-salty and pungent food, spicy food, hard food, dry food, bitter gourd, mustard, pickles, horsegram, alkaline substances, alcohol, exposure to sunshine, heavy exercise, excess of sexual indulgence, anger, jealousy etc.
Dear easy ayurveda readers, understand the causes for the manifestation of anemia and stay away from it. If you are a sufferer, on due consultation with authentic and confident Ayurvedic physicians, have the treatment and be cured at the earliest, without complications and adverse reactions. Ayurveda prescribes the way of safe and effective treatment modalities for diseases like anemia.
Article by: Prof. Dr. MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD (Ayu)