Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Iron Deficiency Anemia: Part One
Blood is made of up four basic components--red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Red blood cells (which contain hemoglobin) are critical because they help transport oxygen to the tissues of our body. Anemia can lead to breathlessness, fatigue, and pallor among other things.
It is commonly believed that anemia is addressed by taking iron. While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, it is not always the underlying cause. If you have been told that you are anemic, it is important that you determine if it is an iron deficiency anemia or anemia by another cause. If you take iron without testing, your anemia may not get better because the cause is not being addressed. Furthermore, excess iron can have pro-oxidant effects. Remember how antioxidants in our food help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Well, excess iron can have a counter effect. Taking iron supplements for long periods of time when one is not iron deficient or at risk for iron deficiency can be potentially harmful.
Anemia is determined by testing hemoglobin or doing a complete blood count (CBC). However, those two tests cannot determine if one is iron deficient or not. A CBC can provide a clue about iron deficiency by describing the size and color of the red blood cells, but it is not a definitive test for iron deficiency. Physicians may request a CBC first, and if it is suggestive of iron deficiency anemia, then they will order an iron panel. CBC's are generally more affordable than running an iron panel, so they are a good place to start. Just remember to complete the process by running an iron panel to follow up.
If you are found to be iron deficient, make sure you have a follow up with your doctor to periodically retest your iron levels after taking iron supplementation. You likely will not need to take a high dose of iron indefinitely. It is good to monitor that you are getting enough and not too much with supplementation.