Anemia, or literally ?bloodlessness?, in former time was
indeed developing mainly due to blood loss and,
consequently, iron deficiency. In the sixteenth trough the
nineteenths centuries sluggish girls from wealthy families
who suffered from it were called pale sluggishness, and the
actual sickness was called ?chlorosis? or, in the English
version, "green sickness" because of the greenish tint of
skin, accompanied by severe weakness, palpitation, edema of
the feet, thrombophlebitis and digestive disorders. In the
nineteenths century in Europe, Dr. Pierre Blaud became
famous for treating chlorosis with iron sulfate and
potassium carbonate salts.
From 1890 to 1920 the number of cases of iron deficient
anemia declined sharply, but not because of metal-therapy,
but because ... tight corsets came into fashion, squeezing
the liver and internal organs of the ladies and causing,
among others, the difficulty of their liver function and an
impairment of gastric secretion that in turn caused another
type of anemia..
Presently, despite the known causes of iron deficiency
anemia, worldwide there are about 2 billion of patients,
which in third world countries, is primarily due to poor
quality of food and parasitic diseases.
In the U.S.
anemia affects 52% of pregnant women and 39% of
preschoolers. Fifteen percent of adolescent girls have iron
deficiency. The most frequent causes of illness in adults in
developed countries is bleeding, that often goes unknown to
patients. For example, a long-term intake of aspirin-like
drugs, that causes elevated bleeding of the mucosa of
gastrointestinal tract (GIT), or the presence of bleeding
polyps in the intestines, etc. The cause of anemia may be a
subtle long-term loss of blood in urine [microhematurea],
observed in several renal diseases, stones, neoplasm. For
many, especially children and adolescents, a lack of iron in
foods or the inability to utilize iron is observed.
Iron accumulates in the body. Its daily requirement (22-24 mg)
is brought about by dissipated red blood cells. It major
physiological losses (0,6-1,2 mg / day for males and 1,5-2 mg /
day for women) should be supplied by the iron coming from food.
Iron absorption is regulated by the stomach and the bowel walls:
it increases during its deficit and inefficient formation of red
blood cells and should be blocked when in surplus. The transport
of iron from the intestinal wall to the bone marrow and
cell-depot, called macrophages, is made possible by the blood
plasma proteins - transferrin. Any malfunction of the
gastrointestinal tract due to reduced secretion of digestive
juices, enzymes and damage to the mucous membrane, for instance
the presence of food allergies, celiac disease, dysbiosis,
gastric resection, etc., leads to an impairment of absorption
and transport of iron. American Academy of Pediatrics released a
warning in 1992 that states that intake of cow's milk by young
children is accompanied by damage to mucosal GIT and hidden
bleeding, which, consequently, leads to anemia.
Symptoms of anemia are a result of insufficient supply of oxygen
to the tissues, as low levels of iron cause impairment in the
development of hemoglobin [hem], which should deliver oxygen and
to ensure full function of the organs.
Adults become sluggish, experiencing dizziness, difficulty
swallowing, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, muscle
weakness, fainting, numbness, and various neurological symptoms
which is explained by the overall oxygen-starved tissues.
Unfortunately, the memory loss, decreased concentration,
confusion, and poor sleep accompanied by anemia is considered a
?natural? process of aging, not requiring treatment.
Iron deficiency is sometimes ?written? on the patient?s
appearance: pale puffy face, ?polished? inflamed tongue, ?a
spoon-shaped? bulged nails, depressed nail phalanges of the
thumb, usually on the right hand.
Children with iron deficiency lag behind their peers in the
physical and intellectual development, are irritable, have
difficulty concentrating, which is often mistakenly regarded as
having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the
best scenario, these children are treated by natural therapy, in
the worst - with psychotropic drugs ...According to Dr. Oski
(1993), for the healthy development of the child, assessment of
iron levels, (I would say, all the indicators of blood formula),
should be done as early as infancy.
Because people have high compensatory ability and hemoglobin
decreases slowly, the child?s body adapts to live in a perpetual
state of hypoxemia (reduced oxygen levels in the blood), which
undoubtedly has a negative impact on the child?s development.
Iron deficiency, with or without the presence of anemia in the
test results, leads to mental and physical retardation. If the
treatment is not begun in time, the process may take an
irreversible turn. Such children usually have developmental
delay or mental retardation, and faster heart rate because the
heart tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
In fact, recent studies show that the function of hem in the
blood and in the brain is different. If in the blood it causes
the tissues to be enriched by oxygen, in the brain it inhibits amyloid formation in neural cells. The accumulation of amyloid
appears as a manifestation of aging, and one of the signs of
Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Children with anemia, drag in mouth inedible things
(dirt, chalk, charcoal, clay, toothpaste), chew ice, have as
addiction to raw products (dough, grains, ground meat), and to
unusual odors (gasoline, acetone, shoe polish, naphthalene,
Typically, an overall analysis of the blood is done in
children from the ages of 6-18 months, but in my practice, it
would not be an unusual case where a doctor would never perform
an overall analysis of the blood for children 4-12 years old,
who already have a wax paleness of skin. I see anemic children
more and more often which may be due to the fact that the
American style of eating ?lifeless? food out of boxes, bags and
cans, ?from the cradle? does not give the body everything
necessary for full growth and proper circulation.
Anemia caused by iron deficiency is such a well-known
disease that many do not even suspect that there could be other
reasons for the reduced hemoglobin and lowered red blood cell
count. The prescription of iron drugs in such cases not only
will fail to improve the condition of the patient, but also can
lead to severe and irreversible consequences.
For example, one of the causes of anemia unknown to public,
but one that is increasingly common in men, children and
especially pregnant women, is a deficiency of vitamin B6. Method
of taking drugs with iron does not normalize the levels of
hemoglobin. Rather, iron absorption is increased, which leads to
its accumulation in internal organs (iron is a heavy metal).
This state, by manifestations, is compared with fatal hemosiderosis - once rare, but now is seen with increasing
Another unknown form of anemia occurs as part of vitamin E
deficiency, which is not only characterized by an impairment of
hemoglobin synthesis, but also a shortened lifespan of
erythrocytes. This disease often occurs in newborns, whose
mothers had a deficit of vitamin E during pregnancy.
When red blood cells ?contact? with inspired oxygen in lungs,
they are destroyed rapidly and a pigment forms, giving the skin
a yellowish color, as newborn kidneys cannot timely expel the
pigment out of the body.
By the way, the human kidney is one of the regulating organs
in the generation of red blood cells - erythropoesis. During
hypoxemia, they produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EP)
which stimulates the production of bone marrow. ET also
stimulates the production of platelets, sometimes up to high
numbers (700 000), which can be explained by a defense response:
even a drop of blood lost by an anemic person may cost him his
life; therefore the blood should clot faster, which is ensured
by the platelets.
In young children, the elderly and in the presence of
kidney disease, PE is not formed in sufficient quantities which
can serve as one of the reasons for the development of anemia.
Unfortunately, the costly pharmaceutical drug PE (Epogen,
Procrit, Aranesp), applied in the form of injections in cancer
patients and in renal insufficiency, has not fulfilled the hopes
of doctors and, as demonstrated by recent studies, may
accelerate the fatality of patients by eliciting an enhanced
growth of tumors and their metastases and an increased
thrombosis in the legs and lungs. This has prompted the FDA to
administer a special warning for this drug (Washington Post,
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Severe anemia, sometimes with irreversible neurological
disorders is observed during a deficit of vitamin B12 and folic
acid. The complexity of detecting B12-deficiency anemia arises
from the fact that normal blood levels are not a valid
indicator. The numbers in the ?normal range? or above, tell us
Indirect signs of B12-anemia that mimic coronary heart
disease are increased heartbeat, shortness of breath during
physical activity, pain in the chest and edema. Patients are
usually bloated, with a puffy face. Some patients may experience
a change in psyche: anxiety, depression, psychosis. Intake of
food and medicines can cause a burning sensation and a feeling
of heaviness in the stomach, which provokes the doctor to
prescribe ?gastric? treatment. Acute pain, abnormal urination,
changes in vision, hearing, taste, smell and behavior are
consequences of the destruction of nerves and brain during B12
deficiency, additionally, the neurological symptoms may occur
without anemia in the blood. Typically, these patients have
elevated levels of ?bad? cholesterol (LDL), at 35-50%, and the
dysfunction of the thyroid gland. Treatment is also complicated,
because the B12-cyanocobalamin, which is most
often prescribed to such patients, in many cases, especially in
elderly and children, is not absorbed well in a tablet form, or
does not enter the cells with injection ? where it is directly
needed. Other more active forms of vitamins are needed.
The increased reduction of gastric juices with age, the
utilization of a variety of medications against heartburn,
laxatives, and calcium supplementation leads to a reduced
absorption of iron and vitamin B12, with all its consequences.
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In many cases, toxic environmental factors and the
accumulation of heavy metals (mercury, lead, strontium, cadmium,
etc.) from the exhaust and cigarette smoke, dental fillings
(amalgam), food (in cans, fish, etc.), drugs (vaccines,
antacids), pesticides and etc. lead to the development of
anemia. For example, mercury, that has entered the body from
different sources, often causes symptoms similar to the
manifestations of iron deficiency anemia, because it reduces the
bonding effectiveness of hemoglobin with oxygen by 25% (Hal
Huggins, DDS). There appears a paradox: the test result is
normal, yet the patient is sick... Lead intoxication also often
accompanies iron deficiency (Nicholls and McLachlan, 1990).
In recent times, as paradoxically as it may sound, a
growing number of Americans have parasite infestation of the
digestive tract, which obviously is as much due to the large
number of traveling as to the growing number of immigrants
arriving and carrying along their parasites from the most
exotic countries. Taking into consideration that Americans not
very often wash their hands before eating (as the statistics
show - only 45%), the quantity of worms they host should not
come as a surprise. But many of these uncalled for "guests" may
cause anemia (Necator, Ancylostoma, Trichuris). Thus, for an
anemic patient, even one who has not traveled the world, stool
analysis is mandatory.
We know that aging is related to the systemic decline of
all of the functions of the body, which also explains the
accumulation of toxins in the body, and a decrease in the number
of physiologically active cells in tissues. Circulation of blood
also slows down. The amount of bone marrow decreases and blood
cells become more vulnerable to damage.
The developing anemia contributes to the development of chronic
diseases. It is a constant companion of many deficits and
various pathological processes occurring in humans. And, as a
rule, evolving slowly and often unrecognized in time, it
exacerbates the duration of illness or appears as a ?normal
process? of aging. However, if the body is well supported by all
the necessary metabolic components, among which vitamins and
minerals play a primary role, biochemical processes occur within
the normal range of ageing.
In the so-called ?anemia of chronic illness?, found in various
autoimmune, inflammatory, infectious and oncology- related
processes, the patient does not have iron deficiency, rather,
the intake of iron as a supplement is ineffective and dangerous.
This type of anemia was first "recognized" 50 years ago, but
only in the last 10 years its causes were studied. The chief
trigger among which is the reduction in production of PE by the
kidneys and the synthesis of recently discovered protein
gepsidin by the liver, which stops the absorption of iron in
digestive tract. Interestingly, in the presence of this anemia,
the life of erythrocytes is shorter by half, but if these
erythrocytes are transferred to a healthy human, the period of
their lives is restored. This shows that despite the changed
?biochemical environment? the of the patient?s body (changed
acidity, vitamin deficiency, etc), the blood cells are
Interesting also the fact that the rate of absorption of iron is
affected by the mood of the patient, and medicine that is taken
for treatment of psychosis (Zyprexa, Seroquel), are able to
increase the level of hemoglobin. At the same time, some
psychotropic drugs (Ritalin, Carbamazepine, Felbamate,
Ticlopidine, etc.) can cause severe anemia.
Thus, the identification of the causes of anemia, its form,
and good nutrition with adequate intake of the necessary
vitamins can help to regain health. The main thing to know is
what to do, when and in what form should food supplements by
used. This is the core of my medical practice.