Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture for Sickle Cell Anemia TreatmentEach year in the United States alone one thousand babies are born with sickle cell anemia a hereditary blood disorder where red blood cells become abnormally shaped. These abnormal cells (usually in the form of a C) are caused by the clumping together of hemoglobin an oxygen carrying protein. This inevitably blocks oxygen and blood flow causing systemic complications such as infections, low iron (anemia), bone / joint problems, leg sores and ulcers, kidney problems, pulmonary hypertension, eye damage and stroke to name a few. There is an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people in America afflicted with this genetic illness and a worldwide total of 500,000 babies. It primarily afflicts African Americans but other races such as Indian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastrn and Hispanic can also be at risk. The lifetime expectancy of someone afflicted with sickle cell anemia is an estimated forty to fifty years or in some cases even more. Currently, a bone marrow transplant may be a potential cure however finding a match donor is difficult.

Symptoms include:

  • Hand and feet swelling
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Abdomen, limb and joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Delayed puberty
  • Jaundice
  • Irritability

Conventional medicine attempts to reduce pain and infection associated with this disease by prescribing antibiotics, pain relief medications and attempted preventive formulas such as Hydroxyurea aka Droxia. Blood transfusions can help avoid stroke and increased anemia and iron overload as well as chelation therapy (removing excess iron) may be used.

Traditional medicine under the guidance of a professional naturopathic doctor can also treat the pain and infection of sickle cell anemia. This is especially true when using traditional remedies such as acupuncture, clinical nutrition and botanical medicine. Finding the best approach naturally could mean the difference between allowing the body to embrace its own healing energy or rely on synthetic often toxic approaches that could be accompanied by challenging side effects.

Acupuncture Addresses Sickle Cell Pain
The pain associated with sickle cell can be very difficult to endure. It may range from throbbing, sharp, intense episodes in the lower back, abdomen, leg or hip to trouble breathing with acute chest pain. Working with a licensed acupuncturist specific meridians (pathways) can be targeted to considerably reduce this pain without the use of drugs.

Published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, a study partly titled ‘A Retrospective Review of Acupuncture Use for the Treatment of Pain in Sickle Cell Disease Patients’ it was stated that, “To our knowledge, this is the largest retrospective review of acupuncture use in the sickle cell population. This analysis describes the use of acupuncture and raises the possibility of its use as an adjuvant [prevention] for pain management in this population.” The study also cited that, “75% of patients in the outpatient setting described their pain as improved compared to [the] prior session.”

Botanical Medicine Applications for Sickle Cell Relief
Turning to plant extracts for sickle cell anemia treatment is similar to going back to the beginning. Most pharmaceuticals are derived from botanicals so what better way to approach healing than to go to the source. This approach however should never be attempted without the counsel of a naturopathic doctor versed in the specific contraindications of herbal supplement administration. Below are a handful of botanical remedies used for centuries to control the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – Used to treat muscle and joint pain by steeping 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dried root / leaves into a tea or taking under the tongue as a tincture. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals.”

Spirulina – This is one type of blue-green algae that packs a high concentration of vitamins and minerals, especially iron which is essential to hemoglobin health. It can be taken in powder, flakes or capsules. According to a study done by the Department of Aquataculture in Taiwan, spirulina showed significant immune-boosting properties.

Alfalfa, Dandelion, Burdock and Yellowdock Roots – The combination of extracts from these three roots has been linked to improving hemoglobin levels and lessening overall anemia symptoms.

Clinical Nutrition: Targeting Sickle Cell With Food
Another tool in the arsenal against sickle cell is the incorporation of specific food choices. A naturopathic doctor can guide one to specific foods (or supplemental compounds thereof aka nutraceutical supplementation) that hold some healing capabilities especially when combined with a Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) protocol. Here are a handful of clinical nutrition approaches and how they may apply:

  • Brown rice – Strengthens lungs and spleen.
  • Garlic – Builds Yang energy, relieves cramps, expels dampness and cold.
  • Beets – High iron content, strengthens blood and oxygenates the system. Tonifies kidneys, liver and bladder.
  • Folic Acid (figs, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables) – Encourages red blood cell formation and aids in appetite.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – (fish, flaxseed, eggs) – May reduce sickle cell crises, alleviate anemia and increase white blood cell count.

These and many other naturopathic medicine approaches could make a big difference in sickle cell anemia treatment. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

2 Responses to “Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture for Sickle Cell Anemia Treatment”

  1. Katwere Godfrey says:

    Thanks for the Info.

  2. Livingston Thomas, Jr. says:


    Thanks for the information. Such information was so inspiring.

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