According to WebMD, anemia develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia — like fatigue — occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly.
My doctor first noticed my hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were decreasing during my comprehensive blood test on 8/21/12. I saw a Hemotologist and discovered I have slight anemia. The 1st page of my stool test shows the iron deficiency, 2nd shows the out-of-range blood levels, 3rd page is blood in stool (internally bleeding), and the last shows the percentage off of the normal range with anemia.
UPDATE 7/1/13 – After taking a functional medicine test, it was determined that I should not take an iron supplement as it contributes to oxidative stress.
Anemia Natural Supplement Fix
Based on the 1st page on iron deficiency test, the Hemotologist recommended I take an iron supplement. Although there are many available both prescription and over-the-counter, I ended up finding a supplement made out of crushed curry leaves called Rainbow Light Plant Source Iron. It’s certified QAI organic and contains no fillers. I saw energy level improvements within 2-3 days. A side effect of taking it (which in my case is good) is that it binds the stool some more plus it makes it a dark brown color.
I have taken a 30-day supply and am now taking one every couple of days until it runs out. In order to keep my iron levels up until my gut heals, I am taking foods with iron:
- Red meat
Egg yolks (food intolerant)
- Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
- Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
Iron-enriched cereals and grains (food intolerant)
- Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
- Turkey or chicken giblets
Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans (get flare-ups)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Black Strap Molasses (great alternative to typical sugar)
Also, if you eat iron-rich foods along with foods that provide plenty of vitamin C, your body can better absorb the iron according to WebMD.
So much has happened since my last blog post almost 2 months ago, that I have decided to create multiple blog entries throughout this week and next week (if you have not done so, subscribe to my blog on the upper-right corner of my web page and you’ll see some great new recipes this week). In this post, I will be focusing on what has happened to me overall with my autoimmune condition & leave the details to those future posts.
- Chiropractor: I have skipped around a month going to the chiropractor and allowed my body to heal through other ways of stretching and exercise. Starting 11/7, I am going back 1X per week for an adjustment and using the power plate for rehabilitation exercises. I stopped using head weights and home traction for over a month.
- Walking 10-20 minutes 1-2 times per week.
- Pool exercises 2-4 times per week in the past two months. Times range from 1/2 – 1 hour and consist of exercise gloves, aqua fitness jogger (biggest help in my rehabilitation for legs), push-ups, tricep dips on stairs of pool, and climbing in/out of the ladder (increase strength in thighs, butt, and shoulders). Since the weather has changed in the past week, I am usually going 1-2 times per week.
- Gym 1 time per week. Using the elliptical machine, dumbbells / free weights, and nautilus machines (for chest, shoulders, back), and leg press.
- Wii Fit + for stretching and Yoga exercises in the morning. I try to do this 2-3 times per week.
- Until the end of the year I will go to the gym, swim, and power plate 1X each per week. Wii Fit + 2-3 times per week.
- Massage Therapist: Found a licensed massage therapist who has Hashimotos disease (an auto-immune condition dealing with the thyroid) and really understands what I’m going through. Started off at 1X per week and now down to 1X per 2 weeks. Her treatments are definitely helping and I’m getting more mobility due to the massages and exercises she suggested at home.
- Acupuncture: I tried 3 separate sessions and they did nothing to improve my health. I have a feeling it’s because I have a systematic issue, not a specific area of pain.
- Sleep: Sleep has been tricky lately. While I stopped needing to go to the bathroom bad throughout the night, I am still waking up 2 – 3 times per night due to stiffness and/or pain. I can tell, though, this is a transitional period and as long as I go to bed by 10pm & take a nap during the day, I usually get enough sleep. I’m still figuring out when to take the ibuprofen – if taken too early, it’s hard to fall asleep. Take it too early and I get up usually 3 times a night.
- Supplements: I have removed a majority of my normal supplements about a month ago. For now, I take acacia fiber & iron, vitamin b complex, and vitamin D3 (5000 i.u.). No more fish oil, Probiotics, HCL, chromium, digestive enzymes, and magnesium. Also the Aloe Vera juice made my condition worse, so I stopped taking it.
- Ibuprofen: Over the past couple of weeks, I’m noticing my gut starting to do normal functional processes (do I really need to go into detail?). My ibuprofen has reduced to 1-2 per day, but starting this week I’m able to bring it down to 1 per day (it isn’t easy, but I can do it).
- Blood Pressure Results
- April – 94/60
- Sept. 6 – 104/66
- Sept. 20 – 110/60
- Sept. 27 – 100/60
- Oct. 11th – 100/60
- Oct. 30th – 90/50
- Nov. 5th – 106/70
- Although it fluctuates to lower amounts, there has been no concern from the doctor. On Nov. 5th, I was on the Wii Fit + and found out that this does increase my heart rate.
- Testing My Body: On 10/23 I drank 3 alcoholic drinks (coconut rum with pineapple & cranberry). The last time I drank was when I was in Costa Rica. Both times I did not notice a major flare-up. On 10/19, I stayed at a party till 1:30am and it took me a day to recuperate. On 10/12 & 11/1 I took ballroom dancing lessons. The 1st one was difficult and I was very stiff. The 2nd was much better after 5-10 minutes into the lesson. I needed 1 ibuprofen for both lessons.
- Current Areas of Concern: I have been diagnosed with anemia and possibly Crohn’s Disease (verified with a blood test and CT scan, but final verification is needed with a colonoscopy on 11/19). Since June 14th (Week 21), I’ve had issues with my neck & shoulders due to chiropractic manipulation and inflammation. I still only drive locally since I almost got into an accident because a few months ago. I could not turn my neck and the driver was in my blind spot. Massages and neck exercises along with health improvements with food are helping – some days I have good motion, others are not good (especially during a flare-up). Still battling stiffness and soreness, but the length of these issues is getting shorter (depending upon the types of food I eat & testing “fringe” foods). My weight is stable, but I’m still underweight. Still mainly sleep on my back and sometimes on my side, but still cannot do a full night of sleep.
- Areas of Improvement: I know my game plan for healing. Although I have not gotten the confirmation on the Crohn’s disease, I know my issue has been gut related the entire time. Once I get confirmation, I’ll be on a safer low-dose medication than ibuprofen and the doctors will know (and fix) any damage occurred throughout this year. My gut is starting to function properly and I’ve gone from 6 ibuprofen a day (just a few months ago) down to 1. My SED rate went from 101 down to 34 on 8/21/12 with my comprehensive blood test and I no longer need to do the Th1/Th2 test due to the significant decrease in the markers of inflammation (Natural doctor confirmed this with me a month ago). I can stay out longer at night, I have moments where I feel “close to normal”, and I’m able to bend / pick up things easier than before. I can test foods and no within an hour or two if I’m going to flare-up. I’ve drastically reduced my supplements and am feeling better and the nutrients in the foods I’m eating are being better absorbed.
- Enbrel: It has been almost 9 months since my last shot.
- My lowest weight was 127 lbs. and a BMI of 17.75. Although I cannot verify it, Crohn’s disease makes it difficult to absorb nutrients. Over time (I’m guessing within the next 3 months), I will start to see my weight increase while the Crohn’s disease is in remission.
- My End of 2012 Goal: I am going on a 4-day dance cruise in early December. My goal is to be able to control the disease and focus on having fun! It’s my reward for all the hard work I’ve done in 2012.