More than three million people have anemia in the United States alone, which confirms this is a very common condition. This causes people to experience constant fatigue, headaches, pallor, muscle weakness and, in some cases, depression and memory loss. However, there are many different types of anemia, and they are classified depending on their causes and the exact effect they have on blood composition.
Types of Anemia
Anemia can be genetic (like sickle cell, thalassemia, or pernicious anemia), or caused by either malabsorption issues (such as most cases of megaloblastic anemia, where surgery or certain medications inhibit the synthesis and storage of vitamins B12 and folic acid) or nutritional deficiencies, when it is most commonly related to the lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet, particularly iron and vitamin B12. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is found abundantly in meats, dairy, and eggs.
Since there are no reliable plant sources for vitamin B12, vegetarians and vegans are strongly advised to take supplements.
On the other hand, iron deficiency is a much more common cause of anemia. Iron is an important mineral that can be found in meat and liver, as well as in nuts and dark-green leafy vegetables, and it is vital for the production of hemoglobin (a protein stored in the red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body). Many things, like prolonged dieting, famine, a recent surgery, an accident, or chronically heavy menstrual periods can negatively affect hemoglobin production.
Herbs for Anemia
Using herbs for anemia treatment can work great as a complementary choice. The following herbs can do wonders for anemia recovery:
1. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Also known as stinging nettle, this is an herb with a very high iron content, but what makes it even more valuable is the presence of vitamins A (retinol), B group, C (ascorbic acid), and K, which improve iron absorption in the body. Whether as a tonic, tea, or supplement, consuming nettle for anemia recovery can be of great help, and it also can be used in the same way as spinach, another leafy green vegetable with good amounts of iron, to prepare pesto sauce and salads.
2. Avocado (Persea americana)
Avocados are likely one of the most prestigious fruits to come out of the Americas, because of their soft, creamy texture, highly palatable flavor, and micronutrient profile. They contain large amounts of iron, making them an ideal dietary add-on after a major surgery. Although dietary folic acid (vitamin B9) deficiency is rare in Western countries thanks to the widespread fortification of flour, if perchance there is still need for a little boost in folic acid levels, avocados are useful for that as well.
3. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley, a popular green herb native to the Mediterranean, is excellent for overcoming anemia. This is because it contains an impressive concentration of iron. Individuals who have trouble taking iron supplements are often advised to drink parsley juice on tea. Parsley is far more than just a garnish, but rather a powerful medicinal plant for those fighting anemia. Other great sources of iron are amaranth, soy sprouts, and quinoa.
4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
There are two potential causes for iron-deficiency anemia: either you are not eating enough iron-rich foods, or your body is not absorbing it properly. In any case, dandelion has you covered. Its leaves not only contain high levels of iron, but they also enhance body's ability to absorb this important mineral. This is an herb that can be paired with others in order to boost its benefits, try this Anti-Anemia Dandelion and Nettle Tea for a quick recovery.
5. Lemon (Citrus limon)
Adding iron to your diet will be useless if it is not properly absorbed by the body. Citrus fruits are all rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is known to facilitate iron absorption. Lemon, though quite a bit less acidic than lime, has been shown to provide good amounts of this water soluble nutrient. Other great sources of vitamin C are bell pepper, camu camu, and orange .
Whether you do not get enough iron through your diet, need a little boost after a major blood loss, or your body is unable to absorb this vital mineral, these herbs for anemia will help you overcome it. Iron deficiency anemia can strongly get in the way of one's life, so employing these herbs for assistance will help raise your energy levels, clear your mind, and restore your overall health.
- National Health Service, Vitamins and minerals - Iron | Red blood cell count
- Office of Dietary Supplements, Vitamin C - Health Professionals Fact Sheet
- The British Journal of Nutrition, The effects of fruit juices and fruits on the absorption of iron from a rice meal, 1987
- USDA Nutrient Database, Spices, parsley, dried | Avocados, raw
- University of Maryland Medical Center, Stinging Nettle | Anemia | Dandelion