Anemia may be defined as a condition in which there is a decrease in the quantity of haemoglobin, in the number of red blood cells, in the volume of packed cells, or in any combination of these. It usually results from consumption of refined foods and is among the most common diseases affecting the human beings.
Nearly half of the blood flowing in our veins and arteries consists of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the tissues. Approximately, one trillion ( 100 million) new blood cells are formed daily in the bone marrow.
The raw material required in the production of these cells are iron, proteins, and vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B12. Of these, iron and proteins are essential in building up the red colouring matter, called haemoglobin.
Red cells live approximately 120 days and are being destroyed and replaced daily. Each person should have 100 per cent of haemoglobin or about 15 grams to 100 cc of blood, and a blood count of five million red cells per millimeter. A drop in the haemoglobin content results in anemia.
The patient usually complaints of weakness, fatigue, lack of energy and dizziness. Other symptoms include a haggard look, premature wrinkles, dull and tired looking eyes, poor memory, shortness of breathe on slight exertion, headache, slow healing of wounds, palpitation of heart and mental depression. The skin and mucous membranes look pale, the nails appear brittle and there may be sores at the corners of the mouth.
Low formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, either due to defects in the bone marrow itself or to an inadequate intake of iron , vitamins and protein, is one of the main causes of anemia. Other important causs may be heavy loss of blood due to injury, bleeding piles and excessive menstruation in women.
Besides, a lack of digestive acid or hydrochloric acid needed for digestion of iron and proteins or emotional strain, anxiety and worry which interferes with the manufacture of hydrochloric acid in the body could also lead to anemia.
Intestinal parasites or worms are yet another cause of anemia. Hookworms, pinworms, roundworms and tape-worms feed on the supply of blood as well as the vitamins.
Symptoms of intestinal worms are itching at the rectum, restlessness during night with bad dreams, diarrhoea, foul breath, dark circles under the eyes and a constant desire for food. Garlic, fresh papaya and grated raw carrot can help vanquish some types of intestinal parasites.