Pallor, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, depression, slow healing, loss of sex drive, bruising, brittle nails, nervousness, shortness of breath, and palpitations. Additional symptoms from Chinese medical diagnosis: white or coated tongue, pale tissue beneath fingernails, white tissue inside lower eyelid (pull lower lid down and see tissue within).


What is Anemia?

From Modern Western Medicine

The most common form of anemia is caused by an iron deficiency that results in reduced hemoglobin in the blood. Causes include abnormally heavy bleeding during menstrual periods, various disease states, dietary deficiencies of iron-rich foods, and poor assimilation of iron. An iron-rich diet and iron tablets may be recommended.


From Traditional Medicine

Anemia is seen as a blood deficiency and is usually caused by inadequate intake of nutrients, by inability to absorb nutrients, by the loss of blood because of gastrointestinal bleeding, by excessive menstrual flow, or by a deficient liver that is not producing adequate enzymes to metabolize iron. In addition to eating iron-rich foods, natural healers often recommend increased intake of vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folic acid to aid in the absorption of iron and other nutrients. Interestingly, iron deficiency very often is not the cause of anemia, as indicated by blood levels of adequate iron. This usually indicates that either absorption or liver deficiency is the underlying cause.

Who Gets Anemia?

People most often affected are the elderly, especially those who eat narrow or simple diets, children, and pregnant women (due to the increase need for nutrition, especially iron and other minerals, in the developing fetus).


Foods to Eat

  • A wide variety of fresh of unrefined vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds provide abundant protein, copper, and the B vitamins needed for iron absorption
  • Raw or lightly steamed greens or sprouts supply the necessary folic acid to aid absorption of iron
  • Foods rich in B12, such as fish, eggs, bitter almonds, apricots, prunes, apple seeds, grapes, miso, wheat, sunflower seeds, and spirulina aid absorption
  • Foods rich in iron, such as fish, egg yolks, blackstrap molasses, dark green vegetables (such as asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, parsley, celery, kale, cucumbers, leeks, and watercress), dried fruit, berries, beets, carrots, yams, beans, grains, and grape juice
  • Sautéed radish leaves, chiso leaves, and miso soup improve blood quality
  • Pounded sweet rice with mugwort, a popular Japanese build-builder


Foods to Avoid

  • All dairy products
  • Coffee and black tea reduce iron absorption


Herbs to Treat an Anemia

  • Amla: one of the most effective tonics for anemia, made with fresh Indian gooseberries. Take ½ -1 tsp. each morning followed by warm water and herb tea.
  • Blackberry and raspberry: fruit and juice (9 – 15 gram (g) of the berries); blood tonic
  • Grapes: 9 – 30 g of grapes or fruit juice for blood deficiency
  • Huckleberry: 9 – 15 g of berries for anemia
  • Teas made from dandelion, comfrey, yellow dock, raspberry, and fenugreek


Chinese Medicine

  • Lycii (known as wolfberry in America) treats anemia by strengthening blood. Take 5 – 15 g in decoction.
  • Peony nourishes the blood. Take 6 – 16 g in decoction.



  • Vitamin B complex: 50 mg, three times a day
  • Vitamin B6: 3 mg, daily
  • Vitamin B12: 4 mcg – 1 mg daily
  • Folic acid: 400 mcg – 5 mg per day
  • Vitamin C: 500 mg per day (increases hemoglobin production and folic acid usage and increases iron and B12 absorption)
  • Vitamin E: 200 – 400 IU per day
  • Calcium: 800 mg per day
  • Iron chelate or ferrous gluconate: 25 mg per day (only when iron deficiency has been diagnosed)
  • Copper: 3 – 5 mg per day or 1 mg per every 10 – 15 mg of zinc