Aplastic anemia is a serious medical condition in which the bone marrow is unable to produce the desired, normal quantity of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This condition is more common in teenagers and among the elderly. While there is no known cause for the condition in about 50% of patients having aplastic anemia, the other 50% have known causes such as exposure to chemicals, drugs or radiation; infection; immune diseases; and heredity. This condition can be diagnosed by a bone marrow biopsy which demonstrates a predominance of fat instead of the normal 30 to 70% blood stem cells. Anemia, easy bruising and bleeding, and an increased risk of infections are common signs and symptoms of aplastic anemia. If left untreated, this condition can lead to death in about six months. Conservative treatment is with the help of blood transfusions, steroids and immune-suppressive drugs or stem cell transplant, which can bring about a five-year survival rate of about 70%. Relapses are common in this condition.
Though this condition is quite rare, of late, more and more young patients can be seen suffering from aplastic anemia in day-to-day practice, possibly due to increased use of highly toxic drugs and exposure to chemicals and radiation. Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be successfully utilised to treat this serious medical condition, which has a grave long-term prognosis. Aggressive treatment with the use of high doses of herbal medicines is required in order to bring about a rapid increase in the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, so as to prevent risk of bleeding and serious infections. Most patients who approach alternative medicine practitioners are already receiving blood transfusions on a regular basis in order to maintain a stable blood picture.
The regular use of herbal medicines stimulates the bone marrow and modifies the immune status of affected individuals so as to bring about an increase in blood counts within the first few months of commencing treatment. Affected individuals notice a definite change and increase in haemoglobin and blood cells within two to three months, and report that they do not require blood transfusions after about three to four months of commencing Ayurvedic treatment. A majority of individuals taking Ayurvedic treatment go into a complete remission within six months of commencing herbal treatment.
After confirming a complete remission, affected individuals are then continued on the same treatment for another one or two months, after which the medicines are gradually tapered and then stopped altogether after another three to four months. However, patients still require regular monitoring in order to watch for a possible relapse and treat the same in a timely manner. Relapses, if any, can be treated with another two or three months of herbal therapy. Herbal medicines like Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Patha (Cissampelos pariera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmes indicus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Guduchi (Tribulus terrestris) and Musta (Cyperus rotundus) have been found to be very useful in the successful management and treatment of aplastic anemia. However, it is pertinent to note that the response of affected individuals to medicines can differ significantly; hence, it is important to individualize treatment so as to bring about maximum therapeutic results.
Ayurvedic treatment and herbal medicines thus have a significant role to play in the successful management and treatment of aplastic anemia.