'Thalas' means sea in Greek while 'emia' means blood. Thalassemia thus means 'blood of the sea.' In Thalassemia, a genetic mutation makes red blood cells irregular. The mutation confers immunity to malaria, which is more prevalent near the coastline (hence the name). Unfortunately, the irregularity also leads to the early death of red blood cells. While normal red blood cells live an average of 120 days, those of a person with thalassemia minor die in 30 days.
Choleric Heat & Black Bile
The churning and recycling of red blood cells that characterizes hemolytic anemias such as thalassemia and sickle cell congests the liver and spleen. The spleen filters the dead red blood cells while the liver breaks the hemoglobin down into bile. The excess production of bile acids produces what Greek medicine calls 'Choleric Heat' - characterized by pre-jaundice conditions: high bilirubin levels in the blood lead to yellow eyes, yellow teeth, a yellow tinge to the palms or olive complexion. Bile is firey and pitta like in nature. It increases metabolism, aids the inflammatory response, thins the blood, breaks up mucus, lowers cholesterol, and irritates the nervous system.
Over time, high metabolism burns up oil and fat reserves (ojas) leading to a characteristic thin, lanky Vata appearance of those with thalassemia. Eventually, the high concentration of uncongugated bilirubin in bile crystallizes and may form gallstones of a jet black color (most gallstones are yellow), giving rise to the name 'Black Bile' in Greek medicine.
Take Care of Your Liver & Spleen
Individuals with thalassemia minor should take special care of their liver and spleen. Liver & spleen stress makes a person firey, irritable, anxious and defensive. Those who suffer these intense emotions will need frequent affirmation from friends to feel good about themselves, or withdraw from relationship when insulted. Their heightened sensitivity to shame may also causes them to dominate close intimate relationships. They may be intolerant of a messy house and sensitive to alcohol and chemical exposure. Liver stress can make you critical, judgmental and argumentative.
Individuals with liver stress are visually sensitive. They may be sensitive to bright light and sun. Liver stress can cause frequent migraines and a low pain threshold. On the other hand, individuals with liver stress love beauty & grace. Beauty, delicate smells & a cooling atmosphere may be soothing, such as sitting in a rose garden with fountains at night under the light of the cool moon.
As symptoms progress, you may notice pain in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen and eczema in your extremities, both signs that your liver may need to be decongested and/or nourished. Decongestion may be accomplished simply through twisting yoga poses, which can also provide immediate emotional relief from liver stress symptoms. Avoid harsh liver cleanses, which can further weaken your liver. Instead, focus on nurturing your liver (90%) and cleansing (10%).
The best way to nurture your liver is rest and stress reduction. Keep a good eating and sleeping routine. Avoid late nights. Get to bed on time. Take naps, especially in the afternoon.
Sweet, oily, cooling & sour foods nurture your liver. Bitter & sour foods cleanse the liver. Notice sour is on both lists. That's why many individuals with thalassemia will crave sour foods like vinegar, lemons & pickles. However, vinegar's harshness must be tempered with something sweet, like maple syrup. Strawberries & blueberries are perfectly packaged for relief from thalassemia. Naturally swet & tart, their deep red/blue hue is a sign of beta-carotene, which stimulates the liver. Applesauce is also wonderfully sweet and tart for thalassemia. Coconut oil is cold and oily. Recipes with mild cleansing action include the bitterness of kale tempered with coconut oil, coconut flakes, raisins & fennel.
Look Out for Hyperactive Fatigue
Heavy physical activity, stress, and exposure to heat can increase the die-off rate of red blood cells, making you anemic. This will reduce your stamina and increase fatigue. At the same time, spleen and liver stress will make you hyperactive. The condition of "hyperactive fatigue" is most noticable at night after 10pm, during the "second wind". Avoid working this time of night, which is a natural time of high liver activity (10pm-2am). When you notice you, or a loved one, is hyperactive, it is a sign that of exhaustion, not extra energy, and a good time to take a rest, and nourish your body.
Avoid High Heat
The symptoms of hemolytic anemia differ radically from those of iron-deficient anemias. Instead of exhaustion and the pale color normally found with iron-deficiency, a person with a hemolytic anemia will have radiant, yet delicate skin perhaps tinged with a yellow or olive hue.
Heat, spicy foods, rigorous exercise and anything that increases blood movement further weakens the spleen and liver. While moderate exposure to the sun aids the liver and reduces jaundice like symptoms, prolonged exposure to the strong heat of the afternoon summer sun aggravates thalassemia symptoms.
High stress and lack of sleep increases the rate of red blood cellular death. You may notice slow wound healing & a low pain threshold, which can make you fearful. Through counseling and emotional awareness, you can find greater courage.
Avoid Strenuous Physical Activity
You may notice heavy breathing when playing sports, and long breath recovery times. Through training, this can be overcome. You may notice you get a runner's stitch when you exercise. Individuals with thalassemia minor often have low blood pressure, and dizziness upon standing.
Liver tonics that are sweet and oily are best for thalassemia minor, especially coconut. Favor cooling summer berries like blueberries and strawberries. Mild bitters like well cooked kale cooked with coconut oil help flush liver toxicity without draining the liver of strength (ojas).
Misdiagnosed individuals with thalassemia minor may be given iron supplements for anemia, which can have serious consequences. Iron supplements will not help a person with this type of anemia, unless it causes heavy menstruation. A high rate of red blood cell death will release freely circulating globin and iron in the person's bloodstream. You may even notice a metallic taste in your mouth. Too much iron in the blood may weaken the heart & liver. Black tea blocks iron absorption and may be helpful in that case. Folic acid and B12 supplements help your body rebuild red blood cells, and may relieve symptoms in some individuals.
Disclaimer: Conditions such as 'Thalassemia Minor' that cause tissue changes could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Thalassemia Minor'.
Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution.
Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care.
Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'THALASSEMIA MINOR'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
According to Ayurveda, one or more of the following
and biocharacteristics may aggravate 'Thalassemia Minor'.
If you have an excess of one of these doshas or biocharacteristics below, Ayurveda recommends reducing foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate them.
Click on the biocharacteristic to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be reduced.
Symptoms Tell A Story
The first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms.
Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances.
Symptoms show you where your body is weakened.
Ultimately, all disease has a root in tissues too weak to defend itself.
Ayurveda describes these patterns of weakness using doshas & biocharacteristics.
If you notice a biocharacteristic or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms,
it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Everything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using biocharacteristics (gunas).
Biocharacteristics are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body.
Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism.
Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism.
For 'Thalassemia Minor', you should select foods with the following biocharacteristics.
Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
FOODS TO FAVOR
CONDITION IN YOUR BODY
ABOUT COLD BIOCHARACTERISTIC
Cold refers to anything that reduces body temperature, metabolism, and blood flow.
Literally, an herb that restores the proper function of the body. In practice, alteratives are usually blood cleansers and blood chemistry balancers. They were traditionally used to revitalize and detoxify after a long winter.
An herb that strengthens the liver. It is helpful for people with a history of substance abuse, chronic liver issues from hepatitis and hemolytic anemias. Generally, liver tonics are oily, cool, sweet, mildly sour, or has beta-carotene.
THALASSEMIA MINOR IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance.
Most people have a weakness in one or more organs.
These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.'
They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point.
Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease.
At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease.
You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area.
At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Thalassemia Minor'.
See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type.
Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Biocharacteristics of the 169 People Reporting Thalassemia Minor
On average the biocharacteristics
of people reporting Thalassemia Minor were less aggravated than 59% of other symptoms.
From the 169 people who reported Thalassemia Minor in this research study of 74,671 individuals,
average deviation in biocharacteristic levels were the following:
Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic,
systemic approach, instead of focusing only on the disorder in question. Ayurveda
shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them
using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't
take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you.
Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an
exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?
Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type,
which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths).
It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders.
Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder.
It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of biocharaceristics (gunas).
For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc.
This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalanced biocharacteristics.
By eating an optimal diet that balances your biocharacteristics, your whole body is strengthened
and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease
are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies -
such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance
To get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body
type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so
by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.