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Blood Disorders (Anemia, Leukopenia, and Thrombocytopenia)

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Blood Disorders (Anemia, Leukopenia, and Thrombocytopenia)

Blood is a body fluid that carries essential nutrients to tissues throughout the body. Abnormalities in the number of cells in the blood can produce several conditions:

  • Anemia, an abnormally low number of red blood cells or low hemoglobin
  • Leukopenia, an abnormally low number of white blood cells
  • Thrombocytopenia, an abnormally low number of platelets

Fortunately, integrative interventions like shark liver oil, astragalus, and a specialized form of iron can help improve levels of these cells in the blood.

Risk Factors for Blood Disorders

Anemia:

  • Iron deficiency, which is estimated to cause anemia in nearly 2 billion people worldwide
    • Advancing age, with >20% of people over 85 diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia
    • Ethnicity and gender, as it occurs more frequently in African Americans and women due to menstrual blood loss
    • Vegetarian diets

Leukopenia:

  • Viral infections that affect the bone marrow, some heritable bone marrow diseases, and certain autoimmune conditions
  • Chemotherapy, radiation therapy
  • Drugs, like clozapine (Clozaril), chloramphenicol, minocycline (Minocin)

Thrombocytopenia:

  • Drugs, like hydroxycarbamide, interferons alpha and beta, heparin, quinine, vancomycin, cimetidine, naproxen
  • Alcoholism
  • Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency
  • Autoimmune platelet destruction and impaired platelet production

Symptoms of Blood Disorders

Anemia:

  • Iron-deficiency anemia symptoms include fatigue, pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, cold hands and feet

Thrombocytopenia

  • Broken blood vessels beneath the skin, scattered bruising, GI or vaginal bleeding, excessive bleeding after surgery

Conventional Treatment of Blood Disorders

Anemia:

  • Supplemental iron, especially the form iron protein succinylate for iron-deficiency anemia
  • Vitamin C, which facilitates the absorption of iron
  • Vitamin B12 and/or folate for anemia due to vitamin deficiency
  • Hydroxycarbamide, a drug that increases a form of hemoglobin that does not participate in sickling in those with sickle cell anemia

Leukopenia:

  • Antibiotics for leukopenia caused by cancer or fever (ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, ceftazidime, vancomycin)
  • Granulocyte-macrophage and granulocyte-stimulating colony factors can be used as a preventive measure to stimulate bone marrow to produce more white blood cells

Thrombocytopenia:

  • Avoid all drugs that impair clotting
  • Corticosteroids like prednisolone for autoimmune destruction of platelets
  • Rituximab, a drug that inhibits B-cells
  • Romiplostim and eltrombopag to induce platelet production

Integrative Interventions

Anemia:

  • Multinutrient formulas (multivitamins): Supplementing with a multivitamin has been shown to increase hemoglobin levels young girls with iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Taurine: Adding taurine to iron supplementation resulted in significantly better improvements in hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and iron status compared to iron alone.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D can help stimulate red blood cell synthesis and a deficient blood level is significantly correlated with anemia in heart disease patients.
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC): NAC has been shown to increase hemoglobin and reduce oxidative stress in anemic patients with end-stage kidney disease and in patients with sickle cell anemia.

Leukopenia and Thrombocytopenia:

  • Shark Liver Oil: The alkylglycerols in shark liver oil have been shown to prevent the decline in leukocytes and thrombocytes in patients undergoing radiation treatment.
  • Chlorophyllin: In patients with leukopenia, chlorophyllin was found to be as effective as a granulocyte-colony stimulating factor medication in the treatment of leukopenia.
  • Astragalus: Astragalus was found to increase white blood cell counts in a dose-dependent manner in patients with leukopenia.
  • Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC): Animal models of leukopenia have shown an increase in white blood cell counts and prolonged survival with AHCC supplementation.