If you suffer from anemia (an iron deficiency) then you know how it feels to have cold hands and feet, tiredness all the time and a sluggish energy you can’t shake with a huge load of coffee. Many of us turn to iron supplements to battle our anemia, myself included, but I find myself always forgetting to take them regularly, and they always seem to make me nauseous. Since I take a huge interest in herbal uses, I decided to look into the herbs I take every day to see if they help with anemia so I don’t need to worry so much about the iron supplement I take that more often than not sits stagnant on the microwave. I was surprised with what I learned.
Iron supplements are the most prescribed medication for anemia, but the pills have to be taken with Vitamin C to be absorbed properly in the body. Also, too much iron can cause stomach upset and constipation, which would explain the nausea I got every time I took them, which is half the reason I “forget” to take them in the first place. I suspected that I had a sensitivity to the pills, but was unaware that they actually can cause stomach upset when too much is absorbed at once (average daily amount to be taken comfortably is 27 mg, whereas iron supplements are often 40 mg or more).
Luckily, there are herbs that we can use to treat anemia without having to worry about overloading on iron. Yellow dock root, a common weed that can be purchased in capsule form in the health food store, is an excellent herb for raising iron levels. Within a few weeks one can actually raise their hemoglobin levels and discontinue using the herb after their iron levels have been stabilized. In too high dosage Yellow dock root can cause diarrhea, but a moderate amount should not have any side effects.
Stinging nettle, when cooked or boiled and consumed in a tea with lemon or raspberry leaf, if excellent in treating iron deficiency as well. It can also be purchased in capsule form.
Dandelion helps the body absorb the most nutrients out of food, allowing your body to utilize more of the iron you consume daily rather than flushing it out. You can pick dandelion leaves in your yard and boil them for a delicious tea (add honey or lemon) and dandelion eases stomach upset, boosts your metabolism, and is a natural energy booster. I use dandelion tea daily for its seemingly never-ending health benefits. It is a natural detoxifier as well.
Alfalfa tea is another great iron-boosting supplement. It has an oddly creamy grassy taste and has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. It is rich in its ability to help the body absorb nutrients and iron naturally, and has iron itself. You can find alfalfa leaves anywhere in any field and it is simply delicious. Make a tea or mix its leaves in your salads. Yummy.
Parsley is another great iron supplement as well. Not only is it a great natural odor eliminator for your breath, it has anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body absorb and utilize iron better.
If you suffer from anemia and don’t take an iron supplement, or have difficulty with an iron supplement and its side effects, perhaps one of these herbs will work for you. Personally, I drink dandelion tea every day and have noticed a great boost in my energy, and become dizzy and cold far less. Works for me. I also consume more spinach, legumes, and leafy veggies that help me absorb more iron naturally.
Talk to your doctor of course prior to deciding to use a natural method of managing anemia. They can alert you to any precautions you should be adhering to, and can help you choose the right iron management treatment for you.