Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder that affects the red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. When you have sickle cell anemia, your blood cells are crescent-shaped and stiff, rather than flexible, making it difficult for them to glide smoothly through the blood vessels.
Due to this abnormality, the blood cells may get stuck inside smaller blood vessels and cause episodes of chronic nerve pain, swelling in the hands and feet, and organ damage. Blood clots, arthritis-like joint pain, and infections are also common. Natural sickle cell treatment can help relieve symptoms.
Further, while healthy red blood cells typically have a lifespan of 120 days, the abnormal blood cells in people with sickle cell anemia only live for about 10-20 days, which can cause anemia. When you have anemia, you have fewer red blood cells delivering oxygen throughout the body, so you tend to get tired more easily.
In the US, sickle cell anemia is most common among African Americans and Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry.
Underlying Causes of Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease that’s caused by a mutation in the HBB gene that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It is passed down to a child when both the mother and the father have the defective form of the sickle cell gene.
Natural Remedies for Symptoms of Sickle Cell
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, and sickle cell anemia tends to cause the most severe symptoms and limitations of all sickle cell diseases. However, several treatments are available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Natural remedies can be implemented into your pain management regimen to reduce chronic neuropathic pain and joint pain.
Research indicates its effectiveness also increases over time.
What’s more, a new study suggests that medical cannabis can also improve the mood of patients with sickle cell anemia and associated chronic pain.
Due to these medicinal benefits, sickle cell anemia is often listed as an approved medical condition for medical marijuana certification. If you’re interested in getting a medical marijuana card, book an appointment with Heally, and we’ll connect you with a licensed physician in your state to get the process started.
Balanced nutrition is always important, but it can be especially good for your health if you have sickle cell anemia. Research suggests people with sickle cell anemia may have an increased need for nutrients due to absorption and digestion issues, which can cause deficiencies, including zinc, vitamin E, vitamin D, copper, iron, folic acid, and pyridoxine.
A well-rounded diet rich in these nutrients can help prevent complications and improve quality of life:
- Eat enough calories to combat malabsorption
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Eat enough healthy fats, including nuts, avocado, milk, olive oil, and seeds
- Eat enough protein that’s high in iron, including grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
- Consume foods high in folate, including chickpeas, lentils, spinach, and broccoli
- Drink plenty of water to maintain good circulation
Unfortunately, it’s common for those with this disease to have nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional supplements is a natural sickle cell treatment option that can help prevent deficiencies while improving the health of your red blood cells and reducing pain. Always talk to your doctor before introducing supplements to your diet.
- Fish oil supplement: Can reduce the frequency of severe pain episodes
- Zinc: Helps prevent cell damage and speed healing
- Arginine: May help those with pulmonary hypertension, a life-threatening complication of sickle cell anemia
- Folic acid: To reduce the frequency of pain episodes
- L-Carnitine: To improve pulmonary hypertension, improve heart function, and reduce the frequency of painful crises
- Beta-Carotene: Helps protect cells from oxygen-related damage
- Magnesium: To reduce the number of pain episodes
- Vitamins A & C: Helps protect cells from oxygen-related damage to prevent deficiency
- Vitamin B6: Research shows it has an anti-sickling effect on red blood cells
- Vitamin E: To help reduce the number of diseased cells
Relaxation, Sleep, and Stress Relief
Patients with sickle cell anemia can overexert themselves more easily, which can reduce the levels of oxygen in their blood. That’s why relaxation, sleep, and stress relief are important to prevent overexertion and fatigue. It’s best to avoid physically demanding and stressful tasks, such as vigorous exercise, and to get plenty of rest to give your body time to recover.
Interested in more natural remedies for the symptoms of sickle cell anemia? Book a telehealth appointment to talk to a functional medicine doctor online