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Moringa, others boost red blood cells

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Moringa plant

Scientists have identified more plants that can boost red blood cells and beat anaemia.

A recent study by India researchers concluded: “Moringa oleifera effectively corrected haemoglobin levels in moderately anemic and included in the daily diet as a preventive and maintenance strategy for women. It should be given due consideration.

“Similar remedies can be designed with the other mentioned species also. It is necessary to formulate a complete natural remedy to fight against iron deficiency using these four-ignored species in mere future.”

The study was published in the journal Annals of Plant Sciences.

The researchers led by Dr. Madhu Malleshappa, an Associate Professor, School Of Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Garden City University, Bangalore, India, noted: “Anaemia is one of the most widespread nutritional deficiencies of blood which affect the populations of all ages throughout the world, children and adolescents being at a significantly higher risk for the condition. Medicinal plants have been a source of succour in the control of many diseases in developing countries and anaemia is no exception. Treatment of anemia involves an iron-rich diet, iron and vitamin supplements. Iron supplements that are commercially available, if consumed too much of which can lead to circumstances like haemochromatosis, neurogenic disorders and sometimes-even cancer.

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“In this study, extracts of different plants (Moringa oleifera, Psidium guajava, Cymbopogon citratus, and Trigonella foenum-graecum) were examined for their iron content to formulate some natural iron product to put forth as a solution to iron deficiency. The total iron content in the standard solution and samples of selected plant were obtained by phenanthroline method modified using analysis by absorption spectrophotometer. The spectrophotometric studies reveal the amount of iron content and hence the efficiency of the species in combatting anaemia.

“Since these are natural sources, the food supplements designed from their extracts are expected to provide a solution to the disease without causing the harmful effects of the commercial iron supplements and also alongside provide other nutritional benefits to the individual.”

Earlier studies had identified and validated more effective natural ways to boost red blood cell levels and improve quality of life of persons living with sickle cell anaemia.

Nigerian researchers had in clinical studies shown that extracts of date palm, beetroot, nettle, fluted pumpkin, cowhage or velvet bean, pawpaw, fig tree and sorghum could be effectively used to improve blood count, as an alternative or compliment to blood transfusion, and heal anaemic conditions such as in sickle cell anaemia and malaria.

Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents. The most common type is known as sickle-cell anaemia (SCA). It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells.

This leads to a rigid, sickle-like shape under certain circumstances. Problems in sickle cell disease typically begin around five to six months of age. A number of health problems may develop, such as attacks of pain (“sickle-cell crisis”), anaemia, swelling in the hands and feet, bacterial infections, and stroke. Long-term pain may develop, as people get older.

Anaemia is a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness.

Until now, a healthy diet is a prerequisite for any anemic patients. Nutritionists recommend foods that are rich in Vitamin B12, folic acid and Vitamin C in the diet apart from most important ingredient iron.

Beetroot intake increases haemoglobin readings
Researchers have shown that intake of red beetroot juice caused increase in blood parameters.

The study published in ISABB Journal Of Food And Agriculture Science is titled “Effect of red beetroot (Beta vulgaris) intake on the level of some haematological tests in a group of female volunteers”.

Nora M. Al-aboud of the Department of Biology, Umm Al-Qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia led the researchers. The study discussed the effect of taking 8 g of beetroot for 20 days on the blood samples of female volunteers where the haemoglobin levels before and after the study was recorded

The results showed mild increase in haemoglobin readings, decrease in total iron binding capacity (TIBC), increase in ferritin and decrease in transferrin. Ferritin is found in most tissues as a cytosolic protein, but small amounts are secreted into the serum where it functions as an iron carrier. Plasma ferritin is also an indirect marker of the total amount of iron stored in the body; hence serum ferritin is used as a diagnostic test for iron-deficiency anaemia.

Transferrin is the main protein in the blood that binds to iron and transports it throughout the body. A transferrin test directly measures the level in the blood.

The study concluded: “In this study, we recorded obvious increase in serum iron level, mild increase in hemoglobin and ferritin after taking 8 g of beetroot for 20 days and thus it can be stated that beetroot might have some therapeutic properties for iron deficiency. So, it is suggested that beetroot be put within the dietary protocols for women at childbearing age after doing more advanced studies in this regard.”

Several studies have shown that beetroot is one of the richest sources of folate. Beetroot is also a source of fiber, potassium, manganese, iron, vitamin C, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. Results from several in vitro studies have demonstrated that betalains from beetroots possess powerful antiradical and antioxidant activity.
Medicinally, the roots and leaves of the beet have been employed as a folk remedy to treat a wide variety of ailments.

Recent studies have provided compelling evidence that beetroot ingestion offers beneficial effects for several pathologies, such as; hypertension, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera, dabino in Hausa) boosts blood parameters
Nigerian researchers have demonstrated that date palm boost blood parameters orally administered.

The study published in International Journal of Biological and Medical Research (IJBMR) is titled “Haemopoietic activity and effect of crude fruit extract of Phoenix dactylifera on peripheral blood parameters.”

Haemopoietic means pertaining to or related to the formation of blood cells.

Phoenix dactylifera (date palm), has been reported to posses a variety of pharmacological activities which indicate its usefulness in various kinds of diseases and disorders.

The results revealed dosage dependent significant increase in Absolute values, Red Blood Cell (RBC), Haemoglobin (Hb), Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Reticulocytes and Platelet count in both aqueous and methanolic extract when compared with the controls. The total and differential white blood cell counts and bone marrow examination did not differ significantly when compared with the controls.

Fluted pumpkin
Commonly called fluted pumpkin, Telfairia occidentalis is called Ugu in Ibo; Aworoko, Eweroko in Yoruba, Ikong or Umee in Efik and Ibibio, and Umeke in Edo

Nigerian researchers have shown the efficacy of fluted pumpkin vegetable extracts in the management of severe anemia in children.

According to the study published in The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine and Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, case reports of two severely anaemic patients, whose parents refused blood transfusion and were subsequently managed with oral intakes of the fluted pumpkin vegetable extracts, with satisfactory rise in the haematocrit levels.

The results showed that the pre-pumpkin extracts administration pack cell volume of 15 per cent in both of them, rose to 20 per cent in one and 25 per cent in the other, 24 hours post administration of the extract.

The researchers concluded: “The fluted pumpkin vegetable extract was efficacious in the management of severe anaemia in these two children and may be useful in pediatric patients with severe anemia whose parents refuse blood transfusion. The vegetable extract may have an even greater role in the prevention of anaemia if intake is instituted early. Wider studies are needed to investigate these hypotheses.”

Cowhage and fig tree
Commonly called cowhage, velvet bean (Agbala or Agbaloko in Ibo and Werepe in Yoruba), the leaves and seeds of Mucuna pruriens could be effectively used to boost blood levels and fertility in women.

So patients with low blood levels may no longer have need for blood transfusion and taking of blood capsules or tonics. Also, women that are looking for the fruit of the womb need not despair.

A study published in journal Biokemistri by researchers from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, comparative effects of ethanolic extracts of Ficus carica (fig tree) and Mucuna pruriens leaves on haematological parameters in albino rats.

Results showed that the extracts significantly increased the haemoglobin concentration, Packed Cell Volume (PCV) and red blood cell count by the 14th day when compared with the control.

F. carica was found to be more effective than M. pruriens in elevating the red blood cell count, especially by the 14th day. The two extracts, however, significantly decreased the total white blood cell count, as well as the percentage neutrophils, when compared with the control group, but not significant between test groups, even by the 14thday. Phytochemical analyses showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, cardiac glycosides and carbohydrates in both plants. Tannins were present in F. carica but not in M. pruriens. These results thus justify the ethnobotanical use of these plants as blood building herbs.

Sorghum
Also, researchers have demonstrated the anti-anaemic potentials of aqueous extract of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) stem bark in rats.

Sorghum bicolor belongs to the plant family Poaceae. It makes a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, kunu-zaki (in Hausa), and tasty pap, akamu (in Ibo), and thick porridge, tuwo dawa (in Hausa). It is fermented to make sorghum beer called burkutu or pito, or made into flour and mixed with bean flour then fried to make dawaki.

Temidayo Oladiji, T. O. Jacob and Musa Yakubu of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, published the study in Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

The results revealed that extract administration has restored the anaemic condition in the iron deficient group and thus lend credence to its use in folklore medicine in the management of anaemia.

Avocado, mango, pawpaw combo used for the treatment of pain, blood deficiencies
Another study published in African Journal of Biomedical Research evaluated pharmacological effect of a Nigerian Polyherbal health tonic tea in rats.

The researchers from the Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology/Forensic Medicine, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos, conducted a fourteen day study, designed to investigate the haematological and biochemical effects of single, daily oral doses of 100 – 600 mg/kg of a Nigerian Polyherbal Tonic Tea (PHT) in four groups of adult Wistar rats.

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Acute oral toxicity test of PHT at the limit dose of 5000 mg/kg was also conducted using Up-and-Down Procedure on statistical software programme (AOT425StatPgm, Version 1.0.). Results showed PHT to induce significant dose-related elevation in the PCV, platelet, total leukocyte counts and lymphocyte differentials, while causing significant suppression of granulocyte differentials in dose-related fashion. PHT, also, induced a significant dose-dependent rise in the fasting blood sugar, which was at variance with its folkloric use as an oral hypoglycemic agent. PHT did not induce mortality at the tested limit oral dose, indicating its relative oral safety up to 5000 mg/kg on acute exposure.

PHT is one of the several polyherbal remedies in Nigeria, used in folkloric medicine in Southwest Nigeria for the treatment of an array of diseases affecting humans. It is composed of pulverized, dried leaves of Persea Americana or avocado (Lauraeae), Morinda lucida (Rubiaceae), Magnifera indica or mango (Anacardiaceae), Carica papaya or pawpaw (Caricaceae), Vernonia amygdalina or bitter leaf (Compositae) and Cassia occidentalis or stinging weed/coffee weed (Caesalpiniaceae), all combined in equal weight ratio.

Morinda lucida belongs to the plant family Rubiaceae. It is commonly called Brimstone tree. It is Oruwo or Erewo in Yoruba, Eze-ogwu or Njisi in Ibo.

PHT is used for the treatment of pain, blood deficiencies, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, malaria, fever, inflammations, as immune booster and in the improvement of blood circulation.

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