New study shows herbal medicine has protective effect for people with haemochromatosis


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A new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2010, tested an extract of St Mary’s thistle seed for its ability in binding iron and thereby reducing non-haem iron absorption.

The fix is phlebotomy, where blood is drawn off the person, generally a few times a year. For some time there have been anecdotal reports of reduced requirements for maintenance phlebotomy in hereditary haemochromatosis patients taking St Mary’s thistle (Silybum marianum) extract.

In a pilot, crossover study conducted in the United Kingdom, 10 hereditary haemochromatosis patients consumed 13.9 mg of iron via a vegetarian meal with either 200 mL of water, 200 mL of water and concentrated standardised extract of St Mary’s thistle (140 mg of flavanolignans calculated as silybin), or 200 mL of black tea (containing 170 mg of polyphenols as gallic acid equivalents) on 3 separate occasions. Patients received phlebotomy to maintain their serum ferritin within the normal range, but were not phlebotomised during the study. Consumption of the extract resulted in a significant reduction in the postprandial (after food) increase in iron blood levels compared with water and tea.

This is another confirmation of how beneficial Herbal medicines can be when taken on a daily basis for the maintenance of health for people in Ireland with this very prevalent, and often under-diagnosed condition. There are also certain herbal medicines which contain high levels of constituents called Polyphenols and Tannins that are beneficial here too

Research has shown that drinking a cup of the following teas before a meal (compared to water)

  • Chamomile tea reduced iron absorption of the meal by 47%
  • Lime flower reduced iron absorption of the meal by 52%
  • Black tea reduced iron absorption of the meal by 80%
  • Meadowsweet tea is high in tannins and therefore has an inhibitory effect of iron absorption
  • Peppermint tea is high in tannins and therefore has an inhibitory effect of iron absorption

Also worth noting:

Frequent consumption of dietary fenugreek had been associated with anemia in Ethiopian children due to inhibition of iron absorption therefore adding fenugreek seed to food can help

Rosemary extract with high Polyphenol content significantly reduced iron absorption when co administered with a meal therefore adding rosemary herb to food can help

People with haemochromatosis should also look after their liver and keep liver function healthy throughout their lives. This can be achieved with dietary recommendations and specific herbal medicines.

For more information on how to obtain the proper extract formulation of St Mary’s Thistle ring the clinic on 0719142940.

In Health,
Gabriel

Call Clinic on +353 (07191) 42940