Alternative Treatment For Thalassemia

Thalassemia is the condition of production of abnormal hemoglobin due to mutation. The curative therapy is out of the reach of majority of patients and thus, the symptoms can be managed. For the management, various alternative therapies are in practice.

Alternative Treatment For Thalassemia

Alternative Treatment For Thalassemia

Besides the main treatment, which are generally related to the allopathic system of medicine, there are various other treatment which comes under the category of complementary and alternative treatment. This alternative treatment for thalassemia either contains foods, or other herbs which are mentioned in the therapeutics books. The alternative treatment also confined to a specific territory and is used from ancient time. Following are the alternative treatment which can help is either improving the condition of the patient or are able to reduce the side effects of the main therapy:

Wheatgrass: Wheat grass juice, which is extracted from the pulp of wheatgrass, is generally used in thalassemia and studies have concluded that the administration of this juice has reduced the frequency of blood transfusions. The mechanism involves the increase in production of heme due to the rapid absorption of chlorophyll. The basic side effect of the blood transfusion is the iron toxicity. Wheatgrass acts as an iron chelator and reduces the side effect of frequent blood transfusion.

Hydroxyurea: Although the use of hydroxyurea in thalassemia is very limited but the clinical trials involving the administration of hydroxyurea in thalassemia intermedia shows promising results. It increases the level of hemoglobin in the body, reduces the bone deformation, reduces the frequency of blood transfusion and decreases the incidences of splenomegaly. Further, it also improves the level of energy in the patients.

Iron Chelators: Iron chelators are one of the important adjuvant therapies with blood transfusion prescribed in the patients of thalassemia. Frequent blood transfusion increases the iron load of the body leading to the accumulation of iron in vital organs such as liver and heart leading to organ failure. Thus, drugs such as deferasirox, an iron chelator are used to reduce the level of iron.

Mint Juice: It is an effective herbal remedy for gastric discomfort which occurs in thalassemia. The treatment is illustrated in traditional Persian medicine. The mint has the soothing and cooling action that helps the gut to relax. It also improves the rate of gastric emptying thereby provide relief from gastric discomfort.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important nutrient when it comes to the supplementation thalassemia. It has a number of functions to perform in thalassemia. In thalassemia, the iron load increases and the iron get accumulated in the vital organs such as liver and heart. Vitamin C helps in taking back the iron form the tissues. Further, it also increases the efficacy of iron chelators administered to the patient to reduce the concentration of iron. The patient with thalassemia has high oxidative stress. Vitamin C helps in reducing the oxidative stress.

Garlic: The toxic effect of iron overload is due to increased reactive oxygen species wherein the iron catalyzes the reaction involved in the production of oxygen species. This results in the inflammatory reactions in the body. The study concludes that garlic helps in decreasing the toxic effect of iron.

Chamomile: Chamomile is also helpful in relieving the symptoms of thalassemia such as intestinal discomfort.

Ginger: The symptoms are severe in cases of infection in the patients suffering from thalassemia. Thus, ginger is used to increase the immune system. Further, ginger has antioxidant effect that reduces the oxidative stress.

Honey: Honey is rich in anti-oxidant nutrients and also increases the level of glutathione reductase and beta-carotene.

Folic Acid: Thalassemia is also characterized by tiredness and fatigue. Folic acid is used to reduce these symptoms.

Milk: Milk contains various nutrients apart from calcium. These nutrients help in the management of symptoms of thalassemia.

Calcium And Vitamin D: Bone deformation occurs in the patient of thalassemia. Calcium and vitamin D supplement help to strengthen the bones.


Various alternative therapies for thalassemia include herbal therapy including garlic, ginger, mint juice and citrus fruits. The supplemental therapy includes folic acid, milk, calcium and vitamin D.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 15, 2021

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