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.
Fight Anemia with These Herbs
Several herbs are excellent complementary choices that will help you overcome iron deficiency anemia. The following are some great options you probably never thought about:
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, this herb can help you recover.
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.
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.
5. Lemon (Citrus limon)
Adding iron to your diet will be useless if it is not absorbed. Citrus fruits are all rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is known to facilitate iron absorption. Lemon juice has been shown to most profoundly exert this effect. Other great sources of vitamin C include camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) and orange (Citrus aurantium).
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 will help you overcome it. 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.
- USDA Nutrient Database, Spices, parsley, dried | Avocados, raw
- University of Maryland Medical Center, Stinging Nettle | Anemia | Dandelion
- Office of Dietary Supplements, Vitamin C - Health Professionals Fact Sheet
- National Health Service, Vitamins and minerals - Iron | Red blood cell count
- The British Journal of Nutrition, The effects of fruit juices and fruits on the absorption of iron from a rice meal, 1987