Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder which involves the defective production of hemoglobin, the protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide. The most familiar type of thalassemia is beta thalassemia, which is again divided into thalassemia minor and thalassemia major. People with thalassemia minor have at most a mild anemia, and do not require any treatment. Thalassemia major, also known as Cooley’s anemia, is a serious disorder. It is more frequent in people of Italian and Greek origin, and is therefore also called Mediterranean anemia. Symptoms include pale skin, irritability, growth retardation, enlargement of the liver and spleen, jaundice, and hemolytic anemia. Currently, periodical blood transfusion is the only feasible treatment option for thalassemia major.
The Ayurvedic treatment of this condition is aimed at improving the production of normal hemoglobin to the extent possible with medicines; and reducing symptoms and further complications. Medicines used are: Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Abhrak-Bhasma, Heerak-Bhasma, Suvarna-Parpati, Suvarna-Sutshekhar-Ras and Suvarna-Bhasma. Since most presenting patients are children, these medicines have to be given cautiously in very small doses, in combination with other herbal medicines. These medicines include: Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Arogya-Vardhini, Punarnavadi-Qadha, Sutshekhar-Ras, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut, Daadimadi-Ghrut, Shatavari-Kalpa, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Sunthi (Zinziber officinalis), Marich (Piper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum), Kumari (Aleo Vera), Laxa (Purified wax) and Manuka (Vitis vinifera).
In addition, medicines which modify and regulate the production of the ‘Rakta’ dhatu (tissue) of the body are used in this condition. These include: Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Chopchini (Smilax china), Suranjaan (Colchicum luteum), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Khadeer (Acacia catechu) and Bhrungraj (Eclipta Alba).
Since this is a major inherited disorder, medicines need to be used judiciously for prolonged periods, with a few drug-free intervals in between. It is important to note that all such patients should be under the regular care and supervision of a Hematologist.