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Anaemia, which is known as pandu roga in Ayurveda, is a condition characterised by low haemoglobin content in the blood. This disease can arise due to vitiation of any of the three doshas, and sometimes all three doshas are vitiated. Loss of blood due to presence of krimi (worms) or diseases like kamala (jaundice) and arsha (haemorrhoids), or loss of blood due to a surgery or accident can also result in anaemia. The main signs of anaemia are whiteness of skin and nails, fatigue, loss of appetite and palpitations of heart. Treatment primarily aims at improving haemoglobin levels in blood. One of the panchkarma (five treatments) suggested for pandu roga is mridu virechana (mild purgation), which is done after pretreatment with snehana (oleation) and snehapana (consuming oil or ghee [clarified butter]).  Herbs and minerals such as lauha (iron), amalaki (Indian gooseberry), draksha (grapes) and dadima (pomegranate) are given in the form of churna (powder) or infused ghrita (clarified butter). Many formulations which are combinations of haematinics (increases haemoglobin) along with absorption enhancers such as pippali (long pepper) and shunthi (dried ginger) are useful in increasing the blood count. The condition is completely curable. Prompt consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner along with regular medications can help relieve symptoms and also avoid further complications.

  1. Ayurvedic view of anaemia
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for anaemia
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for anaemia
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for anaemia patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for anaemia
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for anaemia
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Anemia

Pandu roga is a disease wherein the normal colour of the skin changes to white colour because of the deficiency of rakta or blood. It is caused due to an imbalance in doshas and pitta aggression. The excess pitta is forced into the arteries and veins attached to the heart. Through the blood vessels, pitta spreads throughout the body under the influence of vata dosha. Pitta then vitiates kapha and affects the skin, blood, and muscles, causing them to turn yellowish white. According to Ayurveda, there are five types of anaemia.

  • Vataja: Vata is the dominant factor in this type of anaemia. This is the most commonly occurring iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Pittaja: Pitta is the dominant factor in this type of anaemia. Megaloblastic anaemia can be categorised under this type.
  • Kaphaja: In kaphaja anaemia, kapha is the dominating factor, and this is a chronic condition.
  • Sannipataja: In this type of anaemia, all three doshas are in conjunction with each other and generally sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and aplastic anaemia, which are the severe forms of this disease, are of this type.
  • Mridbhakshanjanya pandu roga: It is caused due to excessive eating of clay or mud that leads to indigestion and infection from krimi.

Symptoms of pandu roga involve kshaya (decrease) of varna (colour) and bala (strength). Thus, your skin and nails appear white in colour, and there is fatigue and loss of strength. You may experience annadvesha (dislike for food), body ache, and jwara (fever). Breathless on performing physical activities and muscle pain is also experienced.

The causative factors for anaemia are a deficiency of some nutritional factor like vitamin B12, folic acid and iron, intake of incompatible food or excessive blood loss. Blood loss from haemorrhoids, digestive problems due to infestation by krimi or threadworms can also eventually lead to anaemia. Diseases like jaundice or haemolytic jaundice can also result in anaemia.

Anaemia can be easily diagnosed and treated completely. A wide variety of herbs are available to treat this condition. The treatment mainly aims at removal of the predominant dosha, which is responsible for the condition. Ayurvedic medicines containing amalaki, haritaki (chebulic myrobalan), dadima and minerals like lauha have hematinic effects and increase the haemoglobin, which generally falls below 12 gm/dL in pandu roga. Adraka and pippali improve the absorption of these ingredients in the body, thus increasing the bioavailability of micronutrients. Vidanga (false black pepper) acts as krimighna (worm-destroying) and thus aid in curing anaemia. Many Ayurvedic formulations like drakshavaleha, which is a semisolid preparation of grapes and lauha bhasma and iron are used to treat pandu roga.

In cases of severe anaemia where the haemoglobin falls below 6 gm/dL, blood transfusion is advised. Adherence to the pathya (do’s) and apathya (don’ts) brings the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes and helps in improving the condition.

  • Snehana
    • Both internal and external oleation is suggested in the treatment of anaemia.
    • External oleation involves massaging the whole body with lukewarm oil.
    • It helps in the lubrication of dry skin that is caused due to anaemia.
    • During snehana procedure, body is massaged for 15-35 minutes.
    • Medicated oils such as narayana taila and kshirabala taila are commonly used for removing the vitiated doshas in case of anaemia.
    • Snehana improves blood circulation in the body.
    • Snehapana is internal oleation, which is done before the virechana karma.
    • In this treatment, ghrita is administered for internal lubrication in the body. Pathya ghrita is used for internal oleation in anaemia treatment.
  • Virechana
    • In the case of anaemia, because of the existing weakness, mridu virechana is suggested with an aim to remove the doshas out of the body and enhance nutrition.
    • Avipattikara churna, a powder of various herbs such as clove, ginger, black pepper, etc., is used for purgation therapy so as to empty the contents of stomach.
    • Shushka draksha kwatha, a decoction of dried grapes, is also used for virechana as a part of the shodhana (purification) for treating anaemia.
    • Pregnant or menstruating women should not be given this treatment.
  • Vamana
    • Emesis is suggested for patients only if they are strong enough to tolerate it.
    • It helps in removal of the vitiated dosha.
    • Vamana is done as a part of shodhana therapy, using herbs with snigdha and tikshna (lubricating and incisive) properties, like bitter herbs.
    • It is not recommended in pregnant and menstruating women.

Ayurvedic herbs for anaemia

  • Amalaki
    • The sour-tasting fruits of amalaki are used in many different disease conditions, especially pitta-dominating ailments.
    • These fruits are rich in vitamin C and are helpful in treating circulatory disorders.
    • In case of anaemia, amalaki fruits help generate blood and increase the red blood cell count.
    • Amalaki churna can be taken every morning with warm water.
  • Haritaki
    • The powdered rind of haritaki fruit is used in the treatment of anaemia.
    • Haritkari churna churna is taken with warm water or guda (jaggery).
    • It is contraindicated in pregnancy or in cases of excessive dehydration.
    • Haritkari is also used as an ingredient in triphala churna.
    • It acts on the digestive system and aids in restoring proper absorption of nutrients, which, in turn, helps in increasing blood in anaemic people.
  • Punarnava (red hogweed)
    • The entire herb and sometimes roots of punarnava are used in the treatment of anaemia.
    •  It is usually taken in the form of a churna or kwatha (decoction) and is commonly prescribed in garbhini pandu (Anaemia during pregnancy treatment).
    • Punarnava has proven its clinical efficacy as a pitta-kapha shamaka (pacifier of vitiated vata and pitta). It restores digestion in pregnant women and increases iron absorption and blood formation.
    • Its mild laxative effect also helps in improving digestion.
  • Pippali
    • The fruits of pippali are used in the treatment of anaemia.
    •  It is taken in the form of a churna with honey or warm water to relieve anaemia symptoms.
    • Pippali is a natural carminative and digestive (improves digestion). It aids in the absorption of essential nutrients.
    • Due to this property, pippali increases the bioavailability of iron and other essential vitamins in the body and is used in many compound formulations to treat iron deficiency in anaemia.

Ayurvedic medicines for anaemia

  • Dadimadi ghrita
    • It is a preparation of ghee infused with the properties of dadima, pippali, ginger and coriander.
    • Dadima has pitta shamak properties (pacifies vitiated pitta). The fruit is also a good haematinic. Coriander improves digestion and is also an appetiser. Pippali increases the absorption of iron and other micronutrients in the body. Shunthi also improves digestion.
    • This preparation is used in anaemia during pregnancy; the sweet taste of dadima makes this preparation taste sweet so that it is easily consumed.
  • Dhatri lauha
    • Amalaki and lauha are the main ingredients in this preparation. The other ingredients are shunthi, maricha (black pepper), pippali and haridra (turmeric).
    • It is an effective haematinic preparation used in the treatment of anaemia.
    • It can be taken with honey or water and is available as a churna.
    • Lauha increases rakta dhatu and is responsible for the haematinic properties of this formulation.
    • Maricha, pippali and haridra nullify the symptoms of anaemia, provide an acidic environment for better absorption of iron, and also improve digestion.
    • Anaemia symptoms such as tiredness and loss of skin lustre are relieved by this preparation.
  • Navayasa churna
    • This preparation contains amalaki, haritaki, vibhitaki (belleric myrobalan), shunthi, pippali, maricha, chitraka (leadwort), musta (nutgrass), vidanga, and lauha bhasma.
    • Navayasa churna increases haemoglobin and serum ferritin levels.
    • Iron is also present in amalaki and musta, while pippali and maricha help in the absorption of iron.
    • Vibhitaki has essential vitamins and minerals necessary for digestion.
    • Vidanga has krimighna properties, thus treating anaemia caused by worms.
    • This preparation is taken as a powder or tablets with warm water or honey.
  • Drakshavaleha
    • This is a semisolid preparation containing draksha, pippali, yastimadhu (mulethi), amalaki, shunthi, vanslochan (bamboo resin) honey and sugar.
    • Draksha acts as a blood tonic.
    • Amalaki is rich in vitamin C and iron, pippali increases the absorption of iron.
    • The other ingredients have antioxidant properties and thus relieve oxidative stress.
    • This preparation should be taken daily before meals.

Do’s

Don’ts

  • Avoid eating black gram, beans, sour substances, mustard and hingu (asafoetida).
  • Do not sleep in the daytime.
  • Avoid exposure to the sun. Stress and anger should also be avoided.
  • Do not smoke or consume alcohol. (Read more: Effects of alcohol on the body)
  • Do not suppress natural urges such as urinating, bowel movements etc..
  • Avoid excessive physical activity and take rest.

Anaemia is a condition that affects your quality of life as its main symptoms are tiredness and fatigue. Anaemia treatment aims at increasing blood count by rectifying doshas and improving the absorption of micronutrients and minerals. Ayurvedic medicines are highly effective in increasing the bioavailability of nutrients in food, improving digestion and providing the necessary haematinic effect to improve haemoglobin levels. Sometimes, treating the underlying disease condition is also necessary to cure anaemia.

A research study carried out in 35 pregnant women with anaemia showed the effectiveness of dadimadi ghrita in these women. On administration of this formulation, skin paleness, whiteness of the nails, fatigue and lowered blood counts improved significantly in about 30 days.

A clinical study documented the use of navayasa churna in case of iron-deficient anaemia and a significant rise in haemoglobin was observed in all individuals within around 90 days. It was further concluded that these medicines are safe and can be used in children as well as in pregnant women.

AThe ayurvedic treatment of anaemia includes the use of various medicines along with a few panchakarma therapies. These medicines are clinically proven to be safe for use in children and in patients of all age groups without any known side effects. However, some of these treatment methods and medicines may have side effects depending on an individual’s physiology. For example, iron preparations can lead to constipation and dark-coloured faeces. This can be taken care of by the use of snehapana, in which preparations made in ghee can be given to patients to avoid constipation. Mridu virechana is also advised in these patients as strong purgation might not be tolerated well in the already weak patients.

Anaemia or pandu roga is a common disorder affecting a wide range of population. The reasons for the condition can be lack of nourishment or some underlying disease such as arsha, kamala, accidental blood loss or krimi. The condition can be easily diagnosed by checking haemoglobin values, and symptoms such as pale colouration of the skin and nails and fatigue. A number of ayurvedic medicines contain ingredients with hematinic properties. Proper consultation of an  Ayurvedic practitioner and regular medication can avoid further complications arising due to anaemia. Most of the treatment modalities used for the treatment of anaemia in ayurveda are safe and strict adherence to a balanced diet along with medication can cure the condition.

Dr. Ravikant Sharma

Dr. Ravikant Sharma

Ayurveda
5 Years of Experience

Dr.Roomy

Dr.Roomy

Ayurveda
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Man Singh

Dr. Man Singh

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Poonam Kalia

Dr. Poonam Kalia

Ayurveda
14 Years of Experience

References

  1. National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage [Internet]. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences: Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India; Pandu Roga.
  2. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, and Longevity. Sat Yuga Press, 2007 - Body, Mind & Spirit .
  3. Lakshmi C. Mishra. Scientific Basis for Ayurvedic Therapies. CRC Press, 29-Sep-2003 - Health & Fitness.
  4. Deepika A Khandelwal et al. Clinical efficacy of Punarnava Mandura and Dhatri Lauha in the management of Garbhini Pandu (anemia in pregnancy). Ayu. 2015 Oct-Dec; 36(4): 397–403. PMID: 27833367
  5. Abhimanyu kumar and Ashish Garai. A clinical study on Pandu roga, iron deficiency anemia, with Trikatrayadi Lauha suspension in children. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2012 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 215–222. PMID: 23326094
  6. Pournima Sandip Aranakalle. Effect of Dadimadi Ghrita in Garbhini Pandu (Anaemia in Pregnancy). Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine. Vol 2, No 3 (2014)
  7. Ragamala K C et al. Dhatri loha in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia. International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, 2010, 1(1):74-80. Vol 1 No 1
  8. Sharma Alok et al. Evaluation of antioxidant potential of drakshavaleha a poly herbal formulation. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2017, 11(4) 331-335. VOL 11, NO 04
  9. Joshi N, Dash MK, Dwivedi L, Khilnani GD. Toxocity studies of lauha bhasma (calcined iron )in albino rats. Anc Sci Life. 2016 Jan-Mar;35(3):159-66. PMID: 27143800
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