A variety of illnesses come under the general term anaemia, the commonest of which results from an iron deficiency.

Pernicious anaemia is caused by the body’s failure to absorb adequate quantities of vitamin B12, and it can affect vegans whose diet may lack protein. Megaloblastic anaemia is caused by a deficiency of folic acid found in fresh vegetables and liver.

Chinese medicine regards anaemia as resulting from the spleen not transforming qi correctly. A herbal remedy widely used to treat iron deficiency anaemia in mainland China is called Return Spleen Tablets (guipi wan in Mandarin).

Chinese medicine acknowledges that anaemia is the result of an iron deficiency, but where Western doctors might prescribe iron supplements, the view in Chinese Medicine is that the body gets all the iron it requires from a properly balanced diet, therefore a TCM practitioners first concern must be to restore its own ability to absorb the iron effectively, by restoring the function of the spleen.

A similar Chinese Medicine treatment for anaemia can also be helpful for women who suffer from sickness or constipation through taking iron supplements during pregnancy, as it does not cause the side-effect of constipation. The herbs used enable the body to absorb and maintain iron, restoring haemoglobin to normal level. Pregnant women should always seek the advice of a doctor before taking any medicines.

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