ANEMIA AND OTHER BLOOD DISORDERS
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© September 2012, The Center For Development
Anemia is a very common and very important symptom. It basically signifies a low red blood cell count or a low hemoglobin level. It is a critical symptom because hemoglobin contained in the red blood cells carries oxygen from the lungs to every cell in the body. When one is anemic, oneÕs energy level decreases and one can become easily tired. If the condition is extreme, oxygen starvation occurs with many other problems such as fainting, low resistance to infections, inadequate oxygenation of the tissues, and many others.
How blood is produced. Blood is produced in the marrow of all the long bones of the body. This may seem like an unusual place for blood formation, but the reason for it is that the bones actually protect the marrow from most contamination due to various toxins, including toxic metals. Today, however, most people have some toxic metals in the bone marrow itself. This is one reason for blood disorders.
Once the red blood cells are formed in the marrow, they circulate for about four months before they are destroyed in the spleen. Their components are then recycled to make new red and white blood cells. This is actually a fascinating process and one that can go awry due to many factors.
Anemias are often divided into two types. The first is a failure to produce enough or high enough quality red blood cells. The second is too rapid or too much destruction of red blood cells by the spleen or for some other reason. Usually this occurs when the red blood cells are not healthy and robust.
SPECIFIC CAUSES FOR ANEMIA
Among the most common causes of anemia are:
1. Iron deficiency. This is most common in poor nations where people do not eat meat and eggs. It also occurs during pregnancy in some cases, and in young women who have very heavy menstrual periods. It can also occur in some vegetarians who do not eat meat or eggs. Finally, it can occur due to hidden bleeding in the intestines, for example, or somewhere else, perhaps due to an ulcer, cancer or to an accident or injury.
Iron deficiency produces a microcytic, microchromic anemia, meaning that the red blood cells are too small, and they are not very red when viewed under a microscope. This is a hallmark of this type of anemia.
Simple iron deficiency anemia is not that common in the industrialized world, and is easy to take care of by adding more meat and eggs to the diet, in most cases. One can also take an iron supplement, although most regular iron supplements are hard on the intestines and often cause constipation. Chelated iron or liver tablets are much better, if these are needed.
Beware, however, of three critical facts about iron deficiency anemia today.
A. In my experience, simple iron deficiency anemia is not that common in the industrialized nations, except among some vegetarians and young women with extremely heavy menstrual periods.
B. Copper anemia exactly mimics iron deficiency anemia, and is far more common. It causes a microcytic, microchromic anemia exactly like iron deficiency, can cause low ferritin, and it is extremely common. Doctors often give women iron for this condition, which only makes the women more ill! It is discussed below.
C. Iron is very toxic when in excess. Therefore, beware of taking iron or eating too much meat. In fact, iron overload is extremely common. Our bodies have trouble removing iron, so iron easily can build up in the body, where it causes or contributes to all the major diseases of our time. These include arthritis, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. For more on this, read Chronic Acquired Iron Toxicity on this website.
2. Copper-related anemia. This is often the most common type of anemia today due to widespread copper imbalance in the population. Many apparent iron deficiency anemias are caused by copper imbalance and require a nutritional balancing program to balance copper in the body. Signs and symptoms are those of a mild, chronic, microcytic, microchromic anemia. It occurs most often in young adult women and, at times, in children, though it can occur in anyone.
Biologically available copper is required for the conversion of iron from the ferric to the ferrous form, and back again, to produce hemoglobin. Bioavailable copper is also required to incorporate iron into the hemoglobin molecule.
While anemia due to copper imbalance appears
identical on blood tests to iron deficiency anemia, the cause and correction is
very different, and it will not respond well to supplemental iron. A hair mineral analysis can help
distinguish the two types. Taking
iron is not healthful for most people and unnecessary in most cases. In fact, taking iron supplements is
very harmful for some young women.
3. B12 deficiency, also called pernicious anemia. This is a less common anemia that occurs mainly in older people, in some vegetarians, and in some people who low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach or low digestive enzymes, in general.
Most people lose some ability to absorb vitamin B12
from their food as they age. This
is a serious problem for many over the age of 60 or perhaps younger, especially
if the digestive tract is in poor condition or if one is under a lot of
stress. Vitamin B12 is found
mainly in animal foods, so vegetarians, especially vegans, are much more prone
to this serious condition.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a macrocytic or so-called pernicious anemia. It can cause permanent brain damage with symptoms of confusion, memory loss, dementia and even death. It is often missed by doctors in its early stages. A mild B12 anemia may also occur in vegetarians, or others who do not eat much meat or eggs. The cost of supplementary vitamin B12 is so low that this simple problem ought to receive more attention by the medical community. It is also a reason why everyone needs a digestive aid, especially older people.
4. Lead and other toxic metals. Lead
poisoning is well known for causing a type of anemia that can be fatal. Hidden lead toxicity may be responsible
for anemias of chronic disease. This is seen commonly with cancer and
other degenerative diseases.
Elevated lead is often not revealed on any tests until it is eliminated
from the body using a nutritional balancing program or some other method. Lead is often hidden because it is
deposited deep within bone marrow and other inaccessible areas of the body.
One or more years may be required to mobilize hidden lead with nutritional balancing science. Chelation therapy with EDTA and other drugs only removes more superficial lead deposits, in general, and unfortunately also removes essential minerals such as calcium and zinc. Therefore, we never recommend chelation and we donÕt require it to remove lead and all the toxic metals.
5. Combination anemias and other blood disorders. Toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury and others may also affect the bone marrow and interfere with zinc or copper metabolism. This occasionally causes unusual types of anemias and other blood problems that can leave doctors scratching their heads. As health improves, these unusual blood disorders often improve on their own without the need for other treatment.
OTHER VITAMIN AND MINERAL IMBALANCES ASSOCIATED WITH ANEMIA
Vitamin C deficiency may interfere with iron absorption.
Vitamin E deficiency affects the stability of the red blood cell membranes. Low vitamin E also causes a macrocytic anemia with shortened lifespans of the red blood cells.
Copper deficiency can impair iron absorption and incorporation of iron into hemoglobin. This is essentially identical with the copper-induced anemia described above but is due to a frank copper deficiency instead of bounavaliabe copper.
Zinc deficiency can cause a higher copper, which, in turn, interferes with iron metabolism.
Vitamin B6 deficiency can inhibit synthesis of the heme portion of the hemoglobin molecule.
Vitamin B2 or B5 deficiencies, while rare, may cause anemias.
Rarely, excess zinc intake can interfere with iron absorption and cause a copper deficiency. It also decreases copper and iron levels in the liver. This can affect the incorporation and release of iron from liver ferritin. It may also increase the fragility of red blood cells.
Folic acid deficiency, while rare, can cause a macrocytic, macrochromic anemia similar to B12 deficiency anemia.
OTHER CAUSES FOR ANEMIA
Drug-caused anemia. This is another extremely common type of anemia due to internal bleeding, usually from the stomach. It is most commonly seen in older people who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aleve and the others. These drugs damage the stomach lining and cause chronic internal bleeding in thousands upon thousands of people. Some die as a result. Stopping the drugs is usually sufficient to correct the cause of the anemia. I would suggest always avoiding long-term use of these drugs for this very reason, as often the bleeding is hard to detect until the anemia is far advanced.
Chronic infections. These may cause anemia by an interesting mechanism. The body may sequester iron to keep it out of the blood stream during some infections because iron tends to favor the growth of certain bacteria in the body. One must correct the infection and the anemia most often subsides.
Other infective organisms such as beta-hemolytic strep may destroy red blood cells.
Cancers. Cancers develop extensive networks of blood vessels and these sometimes rupture, causing internal bleeding. This will result in an anemic condition, at times with no other symptoms at all.
Parasitic infection. In
some areas of the world, leeches, other blood-sucking parasites, and worms that
may live inside the body can siphon off enough blood to cause anemia. This is rare in developed nations,
Chemical poisoning. Pesticide exposure or something else will occasionally cause unusual blood disorders of many kinds. In general, the chemical poisons the bone marrow in some way and this impairs proper blood formation. However, other mechanisms may be present as well, such as weakening the red blood cells and hastening their destruction. Nutritional balancing programs can usually remove most toxic chemicals from the body.
Sickle cell anemia and thalasemias. These are more genetically-related anemias found respectively in negro populations and Southern European populations. They are due to enzyme deficiencies. It is possible that nutritional balancing, however, may even help to keep these anemias in check.
VEGETARIAN AND SEMI-VEGETARIAN DIETS, AND ANEMIA
Diets low in meats and eggs are a critically important cause of anemia today. These diets are low in good-quality iron and they are too high in copper. In addition, they are low in zinc, which protects the body against too much copper. Such diets are also low in vitamin B12, especially strict vegetarian and vegan diets.
As a result, these diets cause both pernicious anemia due to low vitamin B12. However, they cause an anemia that looks exactly like iron deficiency anemia, even if one takes iron. The anemia, as explained in the sections above, is due to biounavailable copper. This is a widespread cause of fatigue, lowered resistance to disease and other problems today, especially for women.
ANEMIA AS A SYMPTOM OF A HEALING OR PURIFICATION REACTION
Oddly, we recently had a client whose longstanding anemia became worse, all of a sudden, during a nutritional balancing program. Her anemia had been chronic for year, and unresponsive to conventional medical therapy. She was also diabetic for years.
I determined that the anemia was probably due to lead or copper toxicity. During her nutritional balancing program, she went through a significant release of lead into her bloodstream as it was mobilized from storage sites in her pancreas, liver and elsewhere. When this occurred, she felt more tired and a blood test revealed a worsening of her anemia.
Doctors were frightened and even considered surgery to look for internal bleeding, although she had no other signs of distress. Fortunately, on repeated blood tests every few days, doctors found that her anemia was mysteriously improving on its own. This is exactly the sequence of events of a typical healing reaction, with spontaneous improvement in signs or symptoms without a need for medical intervention of any kind. However, it was the first time I ran across a worsening of anemia as part of a purification reaction.
As an aside, her diabetes improved at the same time. Lead and other toxic metals easily accumulate in the pancreas and can be responsible for some cases of diabetes.
OTHER BLOOD DISORDERS
There are many unusual types of blood disorders, most of which are uncommon. They may affect the red blood cells, white cells, the platelets or other blood components. In my limited experience with these conditions, improving the nutritional balance and removing toxic metals and toxic chemicals from the body in the systematic fashion that is possible with nutritional balancing science can have a beneficial effect in these cases. Each case is different, however, so one cannot generalize more than to suggest that this method be tried first, as it is simple and non-invasive.