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Some Helpful Chinese Herbs to Offset Anemia

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In anemia conditions, tissues of the body are oxygen-deprived because of a decrease in the amount of red blood cells circulating in the body. Anemia is a blood condition that has actually more than 400 types. Some of its symptoms include fatigue, weakness, burning tongue (vitamin B anemia), malaise (mild anemia, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath, bluish lips, yellow or pale skin, pale eyelid linings, pale gums and nail beds, motion problems, balance problems, palm, creases, confusion, slick tongue, memory loss, depression, and tingling in the extremities. Additional symptoms may include heart arrhythmia, poor concentration, lessened appetite, sleeplessness, and headache. Iron too much use of iron supplements can lead to the symptoms of iron overload like seizures, vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, and jaundice.

Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine or TCM terms anemia as deficient blood. Practitioners address this deficiency with herbal medicine and acupuncture. For fatigue, an herbal tonic known as Asian ginseng is used. As a blood tonic, Dang gui has been used for more than 2,500 years. For better results, this tonic is oftentimes accompanied with astralagus or Chinese foxglove root.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture


A study reviewed in 1990 by Zhou and Zhou revealed that the use of a principle known as bu-shen yi-qi led to an improvement of the symptoms of anemia. The study involved 60 participants all suffering from orthostatic dysregulation. Each person was randomly assigned to either a control group (who were given vitamins B1 and oryzanol) or a treatment group (who were treated Chinese herbs under the principle of bu-shen yi-qi). Herbs used as treatment were chosen for containing zinc, iron (to boost red cell production) and other trace elements. Results after a month showed that 4 members in the control group and 16 patients in the treatment group experienced significant improvements. Seventy one percent or 43 of the total group had clinical mild anemia symptoms. There was drawing of blood during pre and post testing. Red blood cell, hyper-chromia and red blood cell counts were measured. No improvement was seen in 17 patients of the control group while 20 in the treatment group experienced significant positive results.

A study reviewed in 1992 by Zee-Cheng showed that the use of 10 significant tonic decoction (Shi-quan-da-bu-tang or SQT) led to improvement of the symptoms of general weakness, spleen weakness, kidney insufficiency, fatigue, severe exhaustion, anorexia, and anemia. The decoction was able to bring back immune function to cancer-diagnosed patients, boost the effect of the treatment, and lessen the toxicity of anti-cancer drugs. Zee-Cheng showed that SQT treats anemia, among other conditions, by tonifying the blood and making Q (vital energy) stronger as shown on eight years of human and animal studies.

A study reported in 1995 by Chen, Hse, and Su dealt with the effects of Man-Shen Ling, a Chinese herbal formula consisting of astralagus and rehmannia, and other Chinese herbs for the treatment of anemia. The formula showed impressive outcomes and had no adverse effects on the kidney, heart, and gastrointestinal tract functions.
In 1995 Fan, Shi and Zhang authored a review of a study on 43 children all suffering from aplastic anemia who were given a transfusion of feta blood and were treated with vitamin C and Chinese medicinal herbs. About more than 62% of the blood transfusion-alone group showed improvements as compared to the 62.5% (acute plastic anemia) and 88.9% (chronic aplastic anemia) of the treatment group who were treated with blood transfusion and Chinese medicinal herbs.

Supplements and Foods

Because of the caffeine and the tannin in black tea which tend to inhibit iron absorption, cola and coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) should be avoided with meals for those with anemia. Instead, to help boost iron absorption, vitamin-rich citrus juices should be recommended. Chronic intake of alcoholic should also be avoided as alcohol can disrupt the body’s ability to absorb folic acid.

Recommended foods include foods rich in iron like red meat, poultry, liver, almonds, dried fruits, blackstrap molasses, dried beans, tomatoes, broccoli, and parsley (which promotes iron absorption).

The following foods should be minimally cooked or eaten fresh to preserve their folic acid content to help enhance red blood cell production: eggs, liver, pumpkin, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, milk, and dark green vegetables. Mackerel and salmon are high in vitamin B12, and folate can be found in lentils, beans, and black-eyed peas. At risk of vitamin B12 anemia are vegetarians because fermented foods and animal products are the only sources of this vitamin. Therefore, vegetarians should also include fermented foods, eggs, and dairy products as well as tempsch, tofu, and miso in their diet. Vitamin and iron supplements can provide too much iron that can be harmful.

Steven Goldfarb is a board certified and licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of alternative medicine. He is also the founder of Goldfarb Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center in West Orange, NJ.

Written by Valerie

November 29th, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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