Vani Moodley | Ep #33 | Can Anaemia & Iron Deficiencies be reversed?



hi everyone today we have dr vani moodly a licensed ayurvedic practitioner and panchakarma specialist with a background in pharmaceutical sciences and dr mani is

also the founder of prana wellness and she practices in milton keynes in little buckinghamshire clinic in england so welcome to doctor of the podcast dr vani we’re super excited to speak to you today and thank you for making the time thank you tasha and thank you for having me so uh welcome bonnie um and today we want to speak to you about um a very special topic that i think um a lot of female can relate to um and we want to start up the conversation as usual through uh one of our stats that we that we found and this one is according to an article published by uh the association of anaesthetists i’ve been practicing trying to say this word and i hope i did uh saying well so according to them uh iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia worldwide and affects approximately 1 billion people in particular the documented prevalence of iron deficiency in women range from 15 to 18 globally so what could be interesting to start off our conversation with yuvani is to understand what is the link and the difference between anemia and iron deficiency okay so anemia is a reduction in the red blood cells or the hemoglobin because if you look at the red blood cells the primary component of red blood cells is hemoglobin hemoglobin which is a globular protein molecule made up of four amino acids and the heme group four ion molecules around it so when that is deficient it’s classed as anemia and iron deficiency is the deficiency of the iron molecule itself the iron element in your blood and we both are interrelated because you need iron to make hemoglobin so if you’re lacking in iron you’re not going to make hemoglobin which means you will be anemic so they interrelated however the symptoms may be different the symptoms in recognizing anemia or they’re in deficiency yes is that correct yes yes yes so maybe you could tell us like what are the symptoms and how can you differentiate between anemia and iron deficiency if you’re trying to figure it out yes so um with anemic patients you’d find that the the color of the skin is very pale and also you find that uh they’re suffering from weakness whereas iron deficient patients you find that they they suffer from tachycardia excessive heartbeat fatigue because they’re unable to exercise you find the out of breath constantly chest pains and that is when it’s misdiagnosed as a cardiac problem because what many uh practitioners or gps tend to do they measure the hemoglobin levels and they find oh it’s all fine but a lot of and i think you do find a finger prick test for hemoglobin or anemia where you’d find the hemoglobin levels are absolutely fine but it does not you need a blood test a proper blood test to define the amount of iron in your blood serum so this is where we go wrong sometimes with misdiagnosis we need to know exactly how much of iron because iron deficiency has similar symptoms to a cardiac problem you know rapid heartbeat um unable to breathe properly constant fatigue so it’s always important to test the hemoglobin the red blood count as well as the iron uh within um the patient’s uh blood right and as you say in weakness and tiredness because you say anemia people tend to feel weak and then um for iron deficiency they tend to feel uh you know more fatigue and tired how would you really differentiate the two or is it kind of similar of an experience it’s very similar so anemia would be a lack of red blood cells and the function of red blood cells is to combine oxygen and take the oxygen to every cell in the body so if you’re deficient in red blood cells which is anemia you’re not getting enough oxygen so can you imagine yourself not getting enough oxygen you know how would you unable to breathe properly so with iron deficiency it’s it’s a different kind of fatigue it’s more intense where um the heart is having to overwork because of the the lack in iron so there’s no iron to make enough red blood sounds so it’s a different kind the symptoms are absolutely completely different right i get to um and you know interestingly like when we were doing our research as well we found that um you know worldwide anemia affects about 29 of non-pregnant women and 38 of pregnant women and particularly in the uk about 46 of women develop anemia at some point during their pregnancy um which is pretty much half the population of women who are pregnant um developing that is there is there some sort of insight you can give us to tell us you know why this might be more prevalent in when pregnant women absolutely so um you find that a lot of women they not uh conscience conscious of the body or the digestion or assimilation of the food prior to pregnancy so this is where ayurveda comes in if you’re planning to have a baby you know it’s almost doing an mot on your body you know making sure that you are fit to carry a fetus so you’re not going to be anemic during your pregnancy so it’s taking care of the body and changing the diet and making it more iron rich so you could prevent that so the reason women become anemic is because the developing baby once is developing its own blood its own organs so it depletes the mum’s iron and that’s why that’s the main primary cause of the iron deficiency in pregnant women what as a as an ayurvedic doctor or an ayurvedic practitioner how would you reverse anemia because what we’re trying to do usually is to patch up uh currently in the in the allopathic world you patch up your your levels what how does ayurveda kind of approach this type of problems right so um ayurveda would like i said the minute we have a patient with uh iron deficiency we’d look at the the agni so we’d be very interested in the digestion the excretion you know the color of the nails the color of the palms of the hands we look at the eyelids to detect the uh the extent of the iron deficiency or the anemia and then also accordingly we’d start off with um igniting so the agony imagine it to be a little fire and in the case of anemia this fire is dwindling it’s becoming weaker and weaker so we need fuel so you can imagine if i put fuel onto a fire i’m igniting this fire so that’s how i ever would ignite this ugly and that’s where the process or the wonderful panchakarma comes into being so where you have um over five to six days where you’re igniting this agony with things like medicated geese because here’s a fuel that’s used to ignite the acne so over five days you’re igniting the agni and then you probably look at a viretna or detox colon cleanse where you’re cleaning out toxins or free radicals from the system that may interfere with um iron absorption so you’re taking oh you you by doing panchakarma you taking everything into account you’re taking the absorption the digestion assimilation all of that into account so uh after the detox therapy that’s the after that we prescribe we look at the diet so we’ll be very interested in what they’re eating because if they don’t have an iron rich diet and according to whether they vatha pita or kapha we’re going to introduce some foods that are vata specific to iron or pita specific or kapha specific so it’s very very individualized and very very tailored according to the individual and we’d also we’d also besides the foods we’d also introduce supplements that’s most certain to the individual and that also we take things like age uh you know whether they pregnant how old they are whether it’s adolescents whether it’s old age all that into account before we prescribe because remember your digestive fire would be different according to your age or your your you know your pregnant whether you’re pregnant or so it really it’s different for every aspect or stage in your life yeah that makes complete sense um but so understanding the panchakarma um process so you said the first bit is to kind of looking at that fuel that ugly that fire um what at that point of time do they do you have a certain diet or you you’re kind of fasting is it like a a type of fast uh i would say fast but also uh we we assume that the patient is an you know a one or two-year-old child because what would you feed a one or two-year-old child something that’s very soft and easily digestible so the main food that we used during panchakarma is khichadi where it’s a combination of the yellow moong dal and rice cooked together with agni stimulating herbs like ginger and black pepper and cumin and things like that so that’s what they have to eat over three to five days and by the end of sixth day they don’t want to look at kitchety ever again yeah um i just want to ask you so you touched on the fact that you know you’d look at your patients as though they were a small baby or like an infant right um and feed them food accordingly so with anemia and iron deficiency can this be something that you’re born with um and kind of carry throughout your life or is it something that kind of develops um you know as you as you develop and grow up as a child both both because things like sickle cell anemia that’s hereditary it runs through generations uh anemia can be hereditary so if your mum you know was or someone in your family you’re probably going to inherit that you know to have low iron levels in your system and uh and then okay it can be acquired from a poor diet stress uh all of that can can affect your iron levels to our listeners i think you have a very very um interesting background that you started your career in the pharmaceutical industry which is um quite particular or can can work hand in hand sometimes with uh the integrative uh medical system um what was what is your perspective um of this of how to view the way you wanna handle a deficiency or a lack of of something in your in your system so um having worked as a research scientist and having dealt with lots of side effects of drugs and example would be if you look at the iron supplements that are normally prescribed by gps it’s either ferrosulfate or ferrous fumarate so these are quite harsh on the on the gut so you find with felt sulfate it onsets constipation with at least 80 percent of patients ferrous fumarate would onset uh indigestion acid reflux so um they’ve fantastic supplements they’ve been you know researched and they’ve been produced and they’re fantastic they i mean the combination of the iron and the sulfate it’s well thought it would work but um we need to look at um the the digestive power of the patient so this constipation and the side effects it’s having is because these patients don’t have the right digestive power so that’s where iverna can come in and work that’s why it’s you know complementary medicine really complement whatever the nhs is is prescribing by just allowing efficacy of you know more efficacy of the drugs that they’re prescribing by having the right digestive system the right uh fornite flora the right enzymes in your gut that’s going to bring out the efficacy of these medicines if somebody takes um supplements from for iron what would be typical things to do to help or complement this this treatment that an allopathic doctor would give you okay so uh when we have patients come to us that are already on ferrous sulfate ferrous humerate they always come to us with gut problems where they’re not happy about the you know how it’s being they affect the side effect of of the drug so we need to correct the the imbalance that the tablet the the prescription prescribed drugs have caused of the gut so we need to bring the gut back into balance and but that we probably also prescribe foods that are rich in iron and suited to the particular individual and then say to them right when you’re taking these and you you know on these certain herbs that’s gonna um pacify or bring the gut back into balance and then you know then start your uh supplements from from the gp so that’s we looked at correcting uh the gut balance um i mean some just just to be like playing devil’s advocate here so you know if someone is on medication and they’re trying to help themselves or supplements to help themselves improve their iron deficiency and and or their anemia um and then they go visit a ayurvedic practitioner simultaneously and they inform you of that and you do prescribe okay like uh certain herbs and certain types of nutrition that they need to be back uh following like wouldn’t would it be uh something that is counterproductive because if you’re if one one side of the medication which is the allopathic medication is affecting the the gut flora and fauna and then the ayurvedic side is supposed to uh you know heal it then would that be like a negative negative i mean like a you know it might cancel each other out yes absolutely so in most cases uh in in you know you find patients that come and say i don’t want to get off my my allopathic medicine because i’m it’s you know uh but you have to you have to ask yourself that why isn’t ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulfate um restoring iron in the system you know so uh this is when a lot of patients realize that they’ve been on this on the medication for for for months or even years and there’s no improvement in the iron levels all the hemoglobin levels so that that’s when um we would look at the panchakarma of cleaning them out you know of the effects of the the allopathic drugs and then replacing with the the herbal drugs interesting so like i said it all depends you you find a lot of the we get nurses and we get gps that also come to us and say you know can you help with this but some of them are not prepared they don’t want to come off the the ferrous humerate so um it’s it’s a compromise that we have to you know make sure that we’re keeping the gut balance intact but we know that it’s going to bring it back into square one you know you’re going to be back um with the same problems you know in a few months time if you’re still going to be taking those drugs that have caused the imbalance in your gut which is it’s which is tricky because like yeah for those people who who want to have the immediate effect and who maybe are under like going through certain life experiences and they can’t come off it then is it is it something that you advise your clients or would suggest to them to say like oh maybe maybe you should come back at a time where you are able to slowly bean off it as opposed to have this two two double system working and kind of canceling each other out so um i mean personally what what i normally do with my patients is i take them off the ferrous tumeric and ferrous sulfate and you introduce the ayurvedic medicines and ask them to do a blood test in a month’s time and in 99 of cases the iron has just shut up it’s only because we’ve adjusted the uh the agni we’ve adjusted the uh absorption capacity at an intestinal level of iron and that’s why the patients um the anemia is reversed i think that it’s the reason why it’s the case i think it’s also because it takes more time because you said one month right and so to go to complement what tasha was saying is that usually people when they come for this is that it’s it’s imminent they need a solution now and that’s why i i recently experienced the same not for for iron but uh having a back pain and saying i need a solution now and and um and when you speak to a complimentary uh practitioner they will say it will take time it will take time and and but the thing is that you’re not in a state of mind to hear this you just want to leave now and this is why i i find the allopathic world just fantastic for it but it does have collateral damages as you do it um won’t you think that so to kind of say to to counter uh counter your point of you take someone off their medication it’s like isn’t it better for them to find a certain level of comfort and then stop the medication and go into um into ayurvedic um an ayurvedic way of healing uh or counteracting iron deficiency so um what we do in most cases is we wean them off very slowly you know for patients that say no no i’ve been taking this and my body would feel the um the impact of not taking these medicines i’ve been taking it for two years so you can’t take it off immediately you know so whereas patients have been just for a few months and not seen any improvement in the iron levels they absolutely fine with going off immediately but those that have been on on for many years we have to wean them off so we’ll introduce the uh you know we probably do a little detox while they’re still on the um but when we’re doing the pancha karma over five or seven days they’re not allowed to take any supplements so no iron or anything because it’s a cleansing process and then um when we reintroduce the when we start the iron the uh ayurvedic iron supplement that’s when we uh we slowly win them off the put them back into ferrous frame rate but then wean them off you know at least um in a month’s time when they’re off the ferrous humerate because then they could feel the ayurvedic nets that the fumarate that the gps supplements you know reducing and then they feel the benefits of the ayurvedic medicines increasing and um and that’s when in a month’s time they offer it completely that sounds like a bit more of a uh a good transition i think and then and like something that you can just adjust your mind to as well um and i kind of want to shift to to what we were talking about a bit earlier where we are touching more on like women and anemia and iron deficiency and i think one of the things i wanted to cover is also how you know in women in in their lifetime they would have kind of major psycho uh that they experienced and which kind of defined the period of their life um pun intended but um you know they have adolescence and then they have uh sorry puberty and then there are fertility years and then menopause and for women who are kind of experiencing anemia and iron deficiency in those three different stages what is um the impact on the body you know in those stages and especially when they’re bleeding every month right um how does the body experience this and impact the iron deficiency and anemia would you be able to kind of touch on that okay so uh if you look at adolescents you know these diseases is uh be having women are having these growth spurts and be having this raging hormones and and women a lot of young girls i find that the body’s changing you know there’s more water they turning they become a bit plumpier so um the sad thing is they stop eating healthy food because they want to go on diet it’s the norm now young young 13 and 14 year olds uh are wanting to diet so they’re depriving the body of of good food of healthy food so the iron drops and that the low iron will impact the kind of periods that they have as well you know more severe periods with more cramps and things like that so this is how adolescents and having an iron deficiency in adolescence can be they feel more fatigued and it could lead to mental uh health issues all of that because it’s amazing a little thing like iron the effects that it could have on young people or young women especially those with adolescents and you need a healthy diet you need the iron to maintain this balance within the system and if you look at um so i think it’s more getting them to eat the right foods um you know getting them to uh even during the periods you know the intake of the right amount of iron-rich foods uh the right amounts of water smoothies that we’d recommend during the period also having smoothies that’s gonna restore the lost iron and uh if you look at um you know pregnant women as well like i mentioned earlier before you even think about um falling pregnant make sure your iron reserves are quite high within the body because that fetus is going to deprive your eye and you know your your own iron sorry to interject here but what do you mean by iron reserves how do you measure that okay so uh if you look at uh a ferret is a pro protein called ferritin that stores it’s a protein that stores iron in the cell and then it sends the iron out when it’s needed so if you have an iron-rich diet these ions will get stored as ferritin and that’s why if you in most cases if you find if i get a patient that’s uh iron deficient i’m also also going to test to make sure that the eye the patient is iron deficient i will test the ferritin because the ferritin will give me an idea of how much iron is in the body because how much if i have low reserve and i’m going to have low iron so they also they have to correlate the ferritin levels and so that’s how you’d be able to test iron reserves within the body as well so you know it boils down to diet and having the right foods and uh you know it’s the body the mind all of that being balanced uh you know eating according to your constitution or your your um uh your makeup according to ayurveda all of that plays an important role and then if you look at menopause menopause during menopause when the estrogen levels go down there’s a protein called hepsidine that goes up and when the hepatin goes up it interferes with iron absorption at an intestinal level so that is why you find menopause a lot of the women are iron deficient it’s because of hepatin that goes up and you know competes with um intestinal absorption of iron so we have to be so careful uh during menopause the minute we start entering menopause it’s a matter of having the right diet the right lifestyle exercising and all of that plays a very very important role yeah i think that what my conclusion of this is really it’s it can be so complex from one person to another not only according to your constitution according to what uh you know what you bring um in terms of is it is it something that was from your family is it a hereditary uh element is it and then what cycle or stage are you in your life so i think that what we are trying to do in allopathy in the allopathic world which is which is normal when you’re in a chronic stage you need something to to relieve the pain or the the situation but if you want a more sustainable solution you have to speak to someone who can help you figure out what is the right diet what are the right you know lifestyle components you need to add in your day-to-day so that you can actually make it a more sustainable um way of producing those healthy irons and then and stocking them and if you are to to to go into pregnancy uh having that um because then after i guess that your your diet when you are preparing to um get pregnant and your diet when you are pregnant will be different um so yeah i think bottom line is speak to a practitioner if you if you have this iron deficiency because i i think that even for the certain demographics that are more prevalent for it as well um for iron deficiency do you have have you do you have a theory or facts that kind of explain um maybe some some general prevalence according to demographics yeah so yeah we find that a lot of the asians especially the indians you know they they tend to be iron deficient so uh it could be you know our lifestyles it could be diet and then you find things like sickle cell anemia most prevalent in the african countries uh you know so it’s also so i think and it’s more in the west where there’s a less less occurrence of anemia uh for some reason so uh i think those are you know what just i just read uh very lightly on those demographics but i know that asian women tend to be more anemic than other other women and do you think it’s it’s because of diet or is it uh is it exposure to the environment the the climate is there is there a trend there or are we still clueless uh because otherwise i guess if we knew we wouldn’t be having this conversation i know you know that’s very interesting because i actually came across a research uh article the other day that said that they found that the consumption of turmeric can actually lower iron absorption so very interesting and finally something something that turmeric is not exactly great for yes because they did a study with any uh women that i make and they found that this over consumption of turmeric so there’s a lot of research going on at the moment now because i know you know the whole world is all turmeric and but uh you know also the way it’s consumed so vata people would have to take turmeric differently to pitha and pitta people differently to kapha so if you want the the you know the efficacy and the benefits of termite completely you need to be consuming it differently but this research about how excess consumption of turmeric can interfere with iron so uh very interesting so i’m probably going to look at the articles and look at more articles because that’s quite an interesting finding i think definitely i think because um yeah as you said today we have lattes turmeric lattes uh available uh and not only do we have it like full for more uh asian or south asian based food turmeric is put in like in most of the dishes but the different the thing is that not everyone knows it’s usually just a small spoon but the thing is that uh if you do it every day uh plus you have those lattes i only ever have those like i think in like certain uh indian cultures they call it haldi is it haldi yes something like that and so i only have it when i have a cold and i don’t like consume it for the fun of it or when i’m like feeling ill right but it’s now such a trend it’s like oh i love tumeric latte i’m like i know it’s just it’s just become know a big trend now or it’s just taken the world by storm everything’s about turmeric so yeah we need to be cautious i think everything has to be in moderation if you want to maintain good health for sure um so i guess like to kind of conclude what we were talking about where you kept saying to us that you know diet and lifestyle are one of the biggest factors right and so in terms of diet what can i i know you know disclaimer here is that you know not every food is for everybody type and yeah we are aware that you know uh for different constitutions require different types of food but on a general if you’re generalizing what are some foods that are good to consume to improve your iron intake or increase your iron intake and ultimately maybe reduce your chances of developing anemia or an iron deficiency okay so um the in ayurveda the most prized food for a quick iron absorption is black sesame seeds so you know either ground and put into some water and consumed every morning just a teaspoonful that’s fantastic red grapes beetroot carrot and beetroot juice consumed on an empty stomach first thing in the morning making a smoothie with the black sesame seeds nine red grapes i know why they specify nine um one beetroot leaf and some raisins and another food that’s very very rich in iron is coriander the fresh coriander extremely rich in oil love coriander yeah so and also um interesting enough um something that we don’t eat we don’t even consume that’s got phenomenal amounts of beach health is watermelon seeds so you know b12 is needed also for cyanide valve and is important function of red blood cells and pot so we need to look at consuming uh watermelon seeds to improve the bleach out and things like that so um yes i think you know a smoothie made with all of this and about 200 moles of water in your blender all of this and consumed on an empty stomach first thing in the morning you’ve got your iron you’ve you know that’s going to see you through the day that’s going to give you your energy you’ve got the iron that’s going to go into some reserves your ferritin may increase so i think that would be wonderful to have this so so here you gave us like a plant-based type of way of which is great because like i think that some of our listeners are kind of vegans or vegetarians but i remember growing up because i grew up in a very carnivore household um where they would say liver uh liver of um of chicken remember yeah i don’t know but it was disgusting absolute worse i can’t but they were saying that you know this was like a remedy grandma remedy type of thing what is your take on that uh i mean you know the level is where the blood is being made so uh absolutely i think a liver consumption but it’s a very rigorous process of you know your digestion and getting all those protein enzymes working and digesting ways this um so it absolutely even i know certain people that would eat beef liver and you know sheep’s liver and to to restore the iron it is it’s in it’s a lot of people it’s and it does work it has worked with people that have been anemic but uh so i guess what you’re saying is that comparatively to the the kind of the plant-based way of going about things is that you’re gonna put a strain a hard strain on your digestive system when it’s it comes from an organ that has already kind of processed it and and make it as ironed and and you having that is maybe not the most smoothest way to to get it in your system which makes sense but um yes because we go back to what we discussed in the beginning about your digestive fire and your your digestive capacity if you’re anemic already your digestion is impaired your digestive capacity is being impaired and then giving you liver which is quite a heavy food to digest you know are you going to get the maximum benefit of the iron in the liver whereas you look at a liquid plant-based that’s you know taken very quickly into the cells because the cells recognize the natural uh foods in there you know and the natural iron in there so it it works faster it facilitates movement into the cells and that’s where you can get relief from iron deficiency very fast very quickly with something like this plant-based that’s a great point so you you mentioned like the types of food we should consume better and are there any other factors that you would want to tell people to practice or incorporate in their life to improve their iron deficiency slash chances of getting anemia so i think you know a good lifestyle just practicing your breathing in the morning you know pranayama oxygenating your system going for walks into nature getting that oxygen into your system meditation you know prayer all of that important lifestyle changes that you can make and you reap the benefits um and then you know having starting your morning with like that smoothie i told you uh you know just looking after the body and making sure you’re having the right foods that are iron rich you know enough spinach enough kale enough coriander all of those lovely herbs beetroot beetroot leaves because i know a lot of the places where they chop the leaves and they just sell the beetroot but the leaf has got more benefits than the the the beet itself you know the beetroot itself so we need to um look at all of those you know valuable things full of benefits so we need to consider incorporating all of this into our diet raising simple raisins like just instead of stacking on chocolate or crisps a handful of raisins and you you’ve got your iron reserves in your eyes straws and raisins so little changes like that would be very beneficial yeah for sure um and i think so we’ve covered quite a bit and i hope that people can take away something to practice especially for those suffering from you know iron deficiency or anemia um and so thank you for that bonnie uh we appreciate that um and so i guess as we always conclude uh we do our rapid fire questions uh connie do you want to start with the first one sure um so vani um the first rapid question a rapid fire question to you is what is the worst health advice you’ve ever received in your life okay so i think it was years ago when i was looking after my body and you know going to an alternative health practitioner to before i felt pregnant because like i said i wanted to get my body in and i remember him telling me oh if you want to go you should have um a bicarbonate of bicarbonate of soda every morning and if you want a boy you should have some vinegar every morning and i [ __ ] this is really the world i think you should tell people in your circle not to go to that doctor i know i know i meant to go back to him i said please can you give me some evidence you know where did you get this from so i think that was the worst and i i don’t think i’d repeat it to anyone because i it’s just absolutely crazy where do they get this from i don’t know so this has been the most interesting answer so far in all episodes right but it just it goes to tell that you know you have to do your due diligence to whoever you’re kind of getting advice from especially if it’s a practitioner or even a you want to make sure that they know what they’re talking about that’s the scary one yeah blindly trust people anymore and the second one is if there was one habit that we should all adopt today what would that be start your day with pranayama or having even a five-minute walk in nature in the morning because you will benefit from the pure oxygen that’s in nature or you know we all breed superficially so even just pranayama increasing the oxygen capacity in your system would be phenomenal to anyone that’s the best advice i could give anyone great one too yeah and the last one if you were to put a song or soundtrack to your life or would it be oh definitely queen and we are the champions i love it i love it i love that he sort of summarizes my life when i listen to that song because you know he talks about we’ve been it’s been a challenge everything’s been a challenge you know me leaving um my fantastic job as a scientist and you know taking a year to find myself and uh going into ayurveda and just loving it right now i just feel like i’ve become a champion i’ve just won you know the whole struggle so um i love that that’s my song that defines my life completely i love it yeah i feel very inspired yeah i’m ready to go back and do like more work after this good good good good well thank you so much vani for sharing your wisdom and your insight and taking the time to be on our show we really appreciate it so thank you you’re most welcome and thank you for having me

Vani Moodley | Ep #33 | Can Anaemia & Iron Deficiencies be reversed?

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