Chronic Anemia
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: February 10, 1999

I am a 38 year old female who had a gastric bypass in 1982. Since I had the procedure done I was diagnosed with chronic anemia caused by the gastric bypass. My body is no longer able to absorb the iron it needs so consequently I now have to have iron shots once a month for the rest of my life. I have also found an increase in fatique and simply have no energy and no sex drive. I recently started taking korean ginsing twice a day and dong quai twice a day also. I guess my question is this, are these the right herbs to be taking for my fatigue and low libido? And when should you stop taking the dong quai before your cycle and how long after your cycle should you start taking it again? I have also started taking a multi vitamin. This is all new to me, but I have heard that if you take the right combination of herbs you can get your body back on track.

I suggest that you work with your doctor or a specialist who understands your medical history and the process of iron absorption. Because the cause of your fatigue is anemia, you are more likely to see results by working to improve the iron absorption process than by taking energy enhancing herbs. Ginseng will likely deplete your energy, because it works to stimulate a reserve of energy that you may not have. Following are some ideas that you can research and discuss with a medical practitioner.

Iron absorption requires hydrochloric acid from the stomach for absorption. Supplementation may be beneficial. When hydrochloric acid is insufficient, ascorbate (vitamin C) promotes absorption and is often used in the treatment of anemia.

The liver is an important storage site for iron, protecting the body from a deficiency. It is important to keep your liver healthy by keeping your diet low in foods that cause the liver to work hard: all fats, alcohol, drugs.

Foods that contain phytates (whole wheat bread) and tannins (coffee, tea and many herbs) limit iron absorption. They bind with iron to make it insoluble. A cup of coffee can reduce iron absorption by 30% when taken with iron containing food.

Taking a multi-vitamin is helpful, because iron absorption is impaired by deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

For more information, please see our website at In the "Q&A" section, choose "Medicinal Herbs and their Uses" and select the entry "Anemia".

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