Ask an Herbalist: Anemia

Question, 28 year old female: “My latest blood test showed I am anemic and my doctor prescribed an iron supplement. But, it is making me constipated and I’m wondering if I can do this naturally? Do you help people reverse anemia?”

Answer: Yes! I very much enjoy helping people build their blood strength while avoiding some of the digestive problems associated with the iron pills that many western physicians prescribe. Anemia, a condition characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells, can leave you feeling fatigued and weak. It can even cause easy bruising. While conventional treatments often focus on iron supplements, you are not alone in looking for natural approaches to address anemia. I've personally seen the power of blending traditional herbal wisdom with modern understanding to combat anemia effectively. Here I want to help explain how I approach the issue using a three-pronged protocol that leverages personalized Chinese herbal formulas, organ meat capsule supplements, and probiotics to treat anemia naturally.

Understanding the Root Cause

In the Chinese Medical approach, before delving into treatment strategies, it's crucial to identify the underlying causes of anemia. In Chinese medicine, each individual's constitution and health condition are unique, requiring personalized diagnosis and treatment. Factors such as digestive weaknesses, stress-induced adrenal overload, menstrual issues, or other patterns can hinder nutrient absorption or utilization, contributing to anemia. By pinpointing these root causes, we can tailor our approach to address the specific imbalances in each patient's body.

The Three-Pronged Approach

1. Personalized Chinese Herbal Formula

Central to our approach is the use of personalized Chinese herbal formulas. These formulations (combinations of herbs) are crafted based on the individual's Chinese Medical diagnosis/pattern, incorporating herbs that not only replenish deficient Blood but also address the underlying imbalances contributing to anemia. For instance, herbs like Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) and Bai Shao (Paeonia lactiflora) are commonly used to “build blood”, while Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus) may strengthen the digestive system, enhancing nutrient absorption.

2. Organ Meat Supplements

In addition to prescribing a personalized herbal formula, I advocate for the inclusion of dehydrated-encapsulated grass-fed organ meat supplements that contain liver, spleen, and bone marrow. These organs are the richest sources of iron and other essential nutrients involved in blood formation, such as vitamin B12 and folate. Organs are food, so we know the body knows how to absorb it. In most cases, organ meat has enough iron to replace the vitamin based iron supplement. You can talk with your herbalist about how many capsules you need to take in your situation. Incorporating dehydrated/capsule form of organ meat into the regimen ensures a concentrated source of bioavailable nutrients, supporting the body's ability to produce healthy red blood cells, while not requiring you to eat organs (since many in modern times do not do this anymore). This natural approach aligns with the principle of using whole foods to provide comprehensive nourishment. (Of course, we can also discuss your eating habits, if those a part of why you are anemic; but many people I’ve helped have well-rounded diets but still find themselves with low iron.) 

3. Probiotics

An often-overlooked aspect of addressing anemia is gut health. The gut plays a pivotal role in nutrient absorption, and an imbalance in the gut microbiota can impede this process. By introducing probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support digestive function, we aim to optimize nutrient absorption and enhance the efficacy of other treatments. Probiotics can help restore gut integrity, alleviate inflammation, and promote overall well-being, complementing the herbal and nutritional interventions in our protocol.

Individualized Treatment

What sets this holistic approach apart is its emphasis on individualized treatment. By combining a personalized Chinese herbal formula with organ meat supplements and probiotics, we create a multilayered approach to anemia. This three-pronged approach not only addresses the symptoms of anemia but also addresses the underlying imbalances that contribute to its onset. 

Dr. Kim Drolet, DACM, LAc

Kim Drolet

Kim Drolet

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