SICKLE CELL ANEMIA

Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

Sickle cell anemia is caused by a genetic mutation of the hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Sickle cell means the red blood cells are sickle shaped. Abnormal hemoglobin cause blockages in arteries, veins and capillaries. When blood vessels are blocked by sickle-shaped red blood cells, parts of the body are deprived of oxygen. This can cause severe pain and damage to the organs and tissues that are deprived.

SYMPTOMS: Anemia, pain, swollen hands and feet, frequent infections, vision problems.

medical illustration of the effects of sickle cell anemia

TREATMENT

– It is extremely important to live according to the principles included in the HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN and control stress, anxiety, depression by positive thinking and implementing all the recommendations found in the section dealing with EMPOWERMENT.

– Drink plenty of DISTILLED WATER to avoid crisis. In order to control the pain use a heating pad, hot bath or fomentation. Go to HYDROTHERAPY to learn more about those simple and very effective home treatments.

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Work with your family doctor to set goals for the management of your pain. Becoming more actively involved in your treatment will help you better manage your disease.

– UNREFINED PLANT BASED DIET (mostly raw) or HALLELUJAH DIET >

– Best quality IRON SUPPLEMENTS. Chlorella and Spirulina are the best natural sources of iron. Avoid Ferrous sulfate, a form of iron found in many multivitamins, including children’s multivitamins as it is relatively toxic. A safe form of supplement is carbonyl iron. Iron phosphate is also good (organic iron). Take it with foods such as molasses, beetroots, spirulina, chlorella, dried fruits, seeds, nuts, prunes, green leafy vegetables, nettle leaf, etc.

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CHLORELLA: 3 x 10 tablets 30 min before meals with 2 glasses of distilled water. Apart from being one of the best sources of iron, it is very high in chlorophyll which works like haemoglobin and transports oxygen which is the most important in case of SCA. Instead of Chlorella you can also use Clean Greens powder (Pukka) or Wheat grass juice powder (only from Pukka as it is 30 x higher in chlorophyll than regular powders). You can also use all three alternatively.

– A study demonstrated that “regular intake of LIME JUICE may be of great therapeutic and nutritional relevance in children with SCA”.

– Seaweeds are the greatest food you can eat and are the most oxygenating plants on the planet and greatly increase and enhance oxygen throughout the body. The best seaweed you can consume is Blue Green Algae.

– FOLIC ACID: Often consume black eyed peas, raw spinach, parsley leaf, and  lentiles as they are high in folate (vitamin B9). If you do add 400mcg of FOLIC ACID a day. If you don’t eat these foods on a regular basis take 800mcg daily with meals.
– DITOXIFY BLOOD: chlorella, charcoal, nettle leaf powder, dandelion, spirulina will do the job.
– Frequent DEEP BREATHING is very important as oxygen also plays a role in reversing iron deficiency disorders.
– Liquid oxygen drops products can prove most helpful in cases of sickle cell anemia.
VITAMIN D3 – 20.000 to 30.000 IU a day with food. High doses of vitamin D3 demonstrated to have a therapeutic role in certain cases of chronic pain associated with sickle cell anemia. The same day you use vitamine D3 you must take about 800mg of good quality magnesium (citrate, etc.) as vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium defficiency. Also Vitamin K2 MK7 (from fermented Nato) plays important role in absorption of vitamin D3. Whenever it is possible expose your body to the sunlight between 10am and 2 pm as it is still the best way to get vitamin D.

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– Magnesium supplements were successfully used in one experiment to reduce erythrocyte dehydration in patients with sickle cell disease.
– Avoid caffeine products, black tea, sugar, green tea, cola drinks, chocolate, sugar, white flour products, meat, dairy, hot spices, stimulants.
– ZINC is thought to have a stabilizing effect on the cell membrane of red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease. Take 15-30 mg of zinc 2 x a day after meals.
– OMEGA 3 (1000 mg) – 3 x 1 with meals. Must be good quality and with antioxidants such as the one made by Viridian (organic in liquid form without capsules and with antioxidants to prevent oxidation). A very small double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found evidence that fish oil may reduce the frequency of painful sickle cell episodes.
– Taking daily alkaline baths (in Celtic salt or sea salt) will help to alkalize the body. And if you have an oxygen or ozone machine, you can take an oxygen bath. If you add half a box of Celtic or sea salt to this bath, it should significantly reduce the symptoms as it will increase alkalinity and the amount of oxygen in the body.
THIOCYANATE is known to have anti-sickling properties. Thiocyanate has been proven to greatly reduce the sickling of red blood cells. Foods rich in Thiocyanate are: yams, cassava, banana, all legumes (beans, lentils, black eye peas, chickpeas, etc.), millet, buckwheat, humus, oatmeal, almonds, raspberries, cabbage, carrots, cashew nuts, cauliflower, strawberries, and broccoli. At the time when yams and cassava (high in thiocyanate) were consumed in Africa on a regular basis, sickle cell anemia was non-existent.

Suma (Pfaffia paniculata) – a plant that grows in South America has demonstrated to be beneficial in the treatment of sickle cells.

– A study revealed that citrulline and spirulina should be used in the management of sickle cell disease.

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There is also an evidence that the following natural remedies are also very helpful in controlling symptoms of SCA:

– Alpha lipoic acid: 200mg a day or more.

– Coenzyme Q10

– NAC

– B12 (sublingual methylcobalamin, not cyanocobalamin)

– Garlic (aged)

– L-glutamine

– Bee propolis, Bee pollen

– Pau d’Arco

– Vitamin B6 – 100mg daily

– Turmeric (organic raw powder) – 3 times 1 teaspoon before meals

– Milk thistle

– It is extremely important to live according to the principles included in the HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN and control stress, anxiety, depression by positive thinking and implementing all the recommendations found in the section dealing with EMPOWERMENT.

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Agatha M. Thrash, M.D. on Sickle Cell Anemia

Red blood cells are usually round discs that are thin in the middle. A person who has sickle cell anemia will produce a certain percentage of the cells in a crescent shape, or some other abnormal shape. The reason the cells are distorted is that the hemoglobin molecules are structurally abnormal producing an elongated shape and pressing the red blood cell capsule into a curve or sickle shape.

Two and a half million black Americans have sickle cell disease of one form or another. That is almost one of every ten blacks in America who have the disease. Occasionally a Puerto Rican or person of Mediterranean origin may develop sickle cell trait or disease.

The disorder is genetically determined and occurs in two forms: the “sickle cell trait” and the “sickle cell disease.” The “disease” is severe, disabling, and chronic, manifested by bouts of acute episodes called “crises,” and by chronic breaking down of the red blood cells. The crises are produced by plugging of small blood vessels by the crescent shaped red blood cells. When hemoglobin forms an elongated shape it is of the so-called hemoglobin S variety rather than hemoglobin A which most adults have. It is of interest that there are other forms of hemoglobin in addition to S and A; hemoglobin F is produced in the unborn baby and during the first year of life. It is a normal type of hemoglobin only during that period and produces disease when it appears at other times of life. Hemoglobin C and other abnormal hemoglobins may also produce anemia; they are less common than hemoglobin S.

The diagnosis of sickle cell anemia or trait is made by determining the amount of hemoglobin in the blood, and by a simple test to reduce oxygen in the blood which increases the amount of sickling. If all things are ideal, even a heavy sickler may show no sickling at times. When the environment deteriorates even slightly, sickling begins. If only a few red blood cells form the crescent shape and the hemoglobin is not very low the disorder is spoken of as sickle cell trait, but if the sickled red blood cells are numerous and the hemoglobin is quite low, the disorder is spoken of as sickle cell disease. When the crises occur, any area of the body can be involved, including bones, hands or feet, spleen, lungs, brain, or gastrointestinal tract.

How can one treat genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease? The disease should be studied and every attempt made to minimize the load and correct deficiencies of the body. Recent reports are indicating that one of the best ways is to consume a low salt diet. In this way the sickling molecules in the red blood cells can be redistributed, as with low sodium the red blood cells may swell slightly with water, dispersing the hemoglobin molecules better and preventing the abnormal shape. From infancy the sickler should be taught to enjoy food completely without salt. The family can join in this crusade as it will not harm the relatives of a person with sickling to be totally salt-free. Read labels, allow no salt, and buy no junk foods. All dairy products are quite high in salt, and should be avoided.

Sickle cell patients should drink large amounts of water and should eat much raw food with its extra amount of water. They should not use concentrated foods as these tend to dehydrate the red blood cells and make the blood more viscid or thick and heavy. Concentrated foods include all animal products—meat, milk, eggs, and cheese—also all other foods that have a high calorie concentration per unit volume of food – nuts, wheat germ, oil, margarine, mayonnaise, fried foods, free sugars, and most refined foods.

Regular exercise is good for sickle cell patients, as the appetite for food is better controlled and the appetite for water is promoted. Exercise causes oxygen to perfuse all tissues better, including red blood cells. While it should not be overdone, exercise is an important adjunct to any treatment routine for sickle cell anemia.

All other diseases should be fought earnestly, as an infection or a degenerative disease can precipitate a sickle cell crisis. All over-the-counter drugs should be avoided, but particularly those that cause contraction of blood vessels or an acid condition. That would include all the opiates, LSD, and other hard drugs. Since sickle cell patients are already suffering under the handicap of a chronic disease, even prescription drugs should be avoided as completely as possible to protect the patient from the extra burden that any drug can give. For pain, the sickle cell patient should be treated not with pharmaceuticals, but with hot fomentations, ice packs, poultices, heating pads, hot foot baths, massage, passive and active exercise, and other physical therapeutic measures rather than with drugs. If jaundice develops the patient should be treated with charcoal tablets by mouth, 8 tablets in the middle of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon to reduce the amount of bile being reabsorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. Splenic infarcts are a frequent source of abdominal pain in the child. These may be treated with alternating hot and cold packs to the left upper abdominal quadrant, by charcoal poultices at night, and by heating compresses.

Pulmonary signs of coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath may be due to pulmonary infarcts and can be treated with moderately hot chest packs maintained for 20 to 50 minutes, ending with a brief, mildly cold application, and followed by a heating compress to the chest or a charcoal compress. A heat lamp to the chest can often be helpful, as can a heating pad.

Bone pain should be treated with massage, hot or cold compresses, and by passive or active exercise. It should be remembered that fresh air is a must in the treatment of sickle cell disease. When red blood cells lose their oxygen they are much more susceptible to sickling.

The diet should be well-balanced and chiefly of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. All other food items should be taken sparingly or omitted, as the influence on the water content of the red blood cells and the capsule must be carefully guarded by preventing increased osmolarity of the plasma. Heavy and concentrated foods give heavy and concentrated plasma with loss of fluid from the red blood cells to the plasma. Since sickled cells themselves make the blood more viscous, nothing should be done that will promote heavier plasma with dissolved sugars, drugs, lipoproteins, and dispersed fats. Only whole grains should be used, and a high fiber diet should be aimed for. Whole grains and legumes contain vitamin E which seems to benefit sickle cell patients. A diet high in folic acid should be taken, which means plenty of greens and other vegetables. Rest should be abundant, particularly in children. Adults need around 8 hours of sleep and some may require a bit more. A half-hour nap taken just before dinner can be very good. Since a rhythmical pattern has been noted in the development of sickle cell crises, a Herculean attempt should be make to keep the patient on a regular schedule 365 days in the year. Watch out for irregular mealtimes, bedtimes, arising times, exercise times, and elimination times. Exercise should be described as vigorous though not violent.

A person with sickle cell disease should stay away from alcohol entirely. Red blood cells do poorly when exposed to alcohol. They tend to cluster together and impede flow into capillaries. Avoid getting chilled as the slowed circulation can reduce the oxygen content of the red blood cells, and the low tissue oxygenation can cause a crisis.

The person with sickle cell disease should avoid areas of decreased oxygen tension. That would include hiking or camping at high altitudes and flying in unpressurized airplanes. If at all possible one should avoid surgery because of the stress of anesthesia. Dentists should not use nitrous oxide or any other form of general anesthesia. A warm climate at or near sea level represents the best geographical location for the patient with sickle cell disease, and a rural setting is by far the most conducive to health.

For more information contact: Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center, 30 Uchee Pines Road #75, Seale, Alabama 36875, Tel. 334-855-4764, www.ucheepines.org