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Common Diseases > Anaemia - An Ayrvedic View

Pandu Rog Chikitsa (Treatment of Anemia)
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

Anemia is called pandu rog (pallor disease) in ayurved. In this disease, the body turns pale and lusterless and thus the name pandu rog. There is deficiency of blood in quality and/or quantity and this could happen due to a number of reasons.

Several symptoms such as a pale yellowish appearance of the skin, mucous membranes and eyes, lifeless and sluggish movements, fatigue, lack of energy and motivation, low grade fever at times, burning of palms and soles, tingling, numbness, yellowish and/or scanty urination, anorexia and/or indigestion, vertigo, fainting, dyspnoea at rest/ on exertion, etc. can be observed in anemia. Amongst women, additional symptoms such as no periods or short or scanty periods, with or without leucorrhoea (white discharge per vagina) may occur.

Among the general causes of anemia are malnutrition, faulty nutrition, wrong dietary habits, alcohol consumption and drug addiction (marijuana is mentioned in ayurvedic textbooks). Anemia may result from problems such as traumatic injury with profuse internal or external bleeding (aghat), bleeding piles, fistula (arsh), fissures (bhagandar), febrile diseases, diseases damaging the quality or quantity of blood, diseases of the liver (for example, jaundice (kamala)) and/or spleen disorders), tuberculosis (rajayakshma), ascitis (udar) and cancer (karkarog or arbud or granthi.) In the case of women, pregnancy related anemia and anemia related to menstrual problems are additional causes. Ayurved mentions one additional cause for anemia, which is excessive sexual indulgence. According to ayurved, it depletes the ojus (the subtle principle that reflects vitality, intelligence, strength, etc.) but modern medicine may not agree with this.

Women are more prone to anemia than men. This is because of the monthly loss of blood due to periods. During pregnancy or lactation, if women do not take additional supplementary diet, there are chances of becoming anemic. Children may suffer from anemia due to worms and old people may suffer from the same due to low intake of food.

In general, ayurved suggests a nutritive diet and possible supplementary foods and metal ashes like loh bhasma for anemic conditions of the body. Non-vegetarian products such as meat, fish and milk are also recommended. Pomegranate and black grapes are some of the fruits that are good for creating new blood. Green leafy vegetables, sprouted legumes, beet, carrots etc., add to the iron content in the blood. Honey, jaggery and molasses are dietary supplements which help in building blood. Dates, raisins and prunes are good supplementary dry fruits.

Important ayurvedic herbs suggested in treating anemic conditions are kumari (aloe vera), amalaki (emblica officinalis), haritaki (terminalia chebula), saffron, shatavari (asparagus racemosus), manjishtha and punarnava. Chyavanprash, kushmandpak, dhatrirasayana, etc., are a few ayurvedic tonics that help in providing the necessary micronutrients to an anemic person.

Chandraprabha, arogyavardhini and chandrakala are some of the ayurvedic tablets which are to be given with milk when suffering from anemia. Ashwagandharishta and kumari asava are decoctions and medicated fermentations used in anemic conditions after careful examination of the patient.

Shatavari churna with milk or shatavarisidhdha ghrut (medicated ghee) is recommended for women suffering from anemia especially due to the loss of blood through periods.

A mixture of ghee and turmeric powder twice a day helps in alleviating post disease convalescence and anemia occurring due to that. Along with this, bowels should be regulated with mild laxatives as in most liver disorders. Laxatives help to stimulate liver function by draining excess bile.

In the era of ayurved, no pathological techniques to measure the exact blood hemoglobin level were available but ayurved suggests examination of nails, skin, eyes, lips, etc., to determine the level of pandu (pallor) and accordingly decide upon treatment. In general, we can say that if one follows the ayurvedic life style which changes from season to season, then one may not land in the territory of anemia at all and thus will not need any drastic treatments to treat it.




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