White blood cells, Red blood cells, Platelets and other numerous cells are present in human blood, performing their own specific work to support our good health. Platelets are components of blood which are responsible to stop bleeding when there is an injury anywhere on the outer or inner side of the body. A decrease in platelet counts, results in minor bleeding from bruises or tiny cuts to disastrous bleeding around the brain or inside the gut. It can affect overall health and make the person weak.
What are Platelets?
When lining of blood vessels get damaged, blood starts coming out from them. Then, the work of platelets begins to check bleeding, they team up and merge to plug the damage. In simple words, blood clotting cells present in our body are known as Platelets. The Normal value of Platelets is between 1.5 lakh to 4 lakh per microliter of blood. Decrease in this normal value of Platelets is termed as Thrombocytopenia whereas increase in their value is termed as Thrombocytosis. It is quite interesting to see the shape of platelets. They stay in the shape of plates when they are inactive, but when they turn active, they mold themselves into sticky structures like tentacles to plug on the site of bleeding.
Disorders due to Thrombocytopenia
The condition when platelets are decreased from 1.5 lakh per microliter is termed as thrombocytopenia. This condition gets complicated by bleeding around the brain, in the stomach and bowel. Decrease in normal value of platelets can occur due to dengue, viral fever, and chemotherapy drugs given for treating cancer, bone marrow conditions like lymphoma or leukemia and alcohol consumption in excessive amounts. It seems quite difficult to increase platelet counts with diet and exercise alone, so some effective drugs are needed. In serious cases, infusion of platelets is given intravenously to the patient but they have many adverse effects further and also provide a temporary relief for a very short period of time. Decreased level of platelets can be easily treated by some herbal medications along with some dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Natural Dietary way to Increase Platelets
Let us take a look on some natural diet tips for increasing platelet count to normal:
1. Food Containing Folate
For healthy blood cells, folate is an essential class of Vitamin B. An adult should take 400 micrograms, while pregnant women should take 600 micrograms of folate in their diet daily. Folate is richly available in foods such as: Oranges, Kidney beans, Yeast, Rice, Fortified cereals, Black eyed peas, Beef liver, Dark and leafy vegetables like spinach and Brussels sprouts.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for production of RBC (red blood cells) whereas deficiency of Vitamin B12 may lower the number of platelets in blood. Adults require 2.4 mcg whereas pregnant women need 2.8 mcg of Vitamin B-12 on a daily basis. Animal based foods rich in Vitamin B12 are Fish (salmon, trout, tuna and clams), beef, beef liver and eggs. While vegetarians can get Vitamin B-12 from soy milk, almond milk, fortified cereals and supplements.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C enhances our immune system as well as required for supporting platelets in their functions. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron well, which is also essential for platelets. It can be obtained from Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Kiwi fruit, Strawberries, Red and Green bell peppers and Citrus fruits such as Grapefruits and Oranges.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for proper functioning of bones, nerves, muscles and immune system. Vitamin D promotes the working of bone marrow cells which produces platelets and other cells. Persons between the age group 18-70 need a minimum of 15 micrograms of Vitamin D every day. It can be easily obtained from sunlight but most people can’t get enough sunlight due to busy schedules. So, they can obtain Vitamin D from sources such as fortified milk, yogurt, fish liver oil, fatty fish (mackerel, tuna and salmon) and egg yolk. Vegetarian foods rich in Vitamin D include fortified cereals, UV exposed mushrooms, soy milk and soy yogurt.
5. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is also an important factor in blood clotting mechanism and healthy bones. People taking sufficient amounts of Vitamin K are at low risk of platelets reduction. Required amount of Vitamin K in adult males is 120 mcg and 90 mcg in females. Foods rich in Vitamin K are Spinach, Turnip greens, Collards, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Soybean, Soybean oils, Cereals, Eggs and Fish.
Iron provides support to the healthy platelets and red blood cells. Iron has a great impact on the platelet count that is why it is required in sufficient amounts daily. Males over 18 years and females over 50 years of age require a minimum of 8 milligrams (mg) of iron every day. While females between the age group of 19 to 50 require 18 mg and pregnant women need 27 mg of iron daily. Iron can be easily obtained by Eggs, Dates, Spinach, Lentils, Dark Chocolate, Tofu, Cereals, White beans, and Kidney beans, Beef liver and Oysters, Pomegranate.
Papaya is another best natural edible to increase platelets. Other than eating papaya, a smoothie / juice of papaya leaves can also be prepared which is also beneficial for patients. Patients of dengue having symptoms of very low levels of platelets can have wonderful results by consuming juice of Papaya leaves.
Foods to Avoid
It is mandatory to avoid some foods to increase platelets naturally. Such foods are:
- Aspartame (artificial sweeteners)
- Quinine (compound in bitter lemon and tonic water)
- Cranberry juice
- Packaged Food
- Fried and fast Foods
Complications due to Reduced Platelets
If a person is living with reduced platelet count for a long term then it will lead to various clotting & hemorrhagic disorders. Modern Science states following complications due to reduced platelets:
- Recurrent & easy bruising
- Episodes of epistaxis (bleeding from nose), gum bleedings, hemoptysis (blood in sputum) etc.
- Malena (blood in stool), hematuria (blood in urine) and hematemesis (blood mixed vomiting).
- Chronic Anemia which leads to breathlessness on exertion.
- Heavy menstrual bleedings.
- Splenomegaly (Enlargement of spleen)
- Hemorrhage in vital organs such as the brain which could lead to death.
In nutshell, the complications include excessive blood loss due to lack of necessary & adequate clotting factors (i.e. platelets).
Acharya Sushruta had described the complications due to excessive blood loss in
Sushruta Sutrasthana 14/31
The Shloka states that due to excessive blood loss, the complications such as headache, reduced vision which may lead to blindness, glaucoma, cataract formation, and seizures because of depletion of bodily tissues, paraplegia, and hemiplegia like deformities, hiccups, breathing / respiratory disturbances, cough, anemia and even death can happen.
We can increase our platelets in a natural way with the above given methods. Platelets are important cells required in our body to prevent excess loss of blood and from infections like Dengue. It is mandatory to take care of platelets as other body components. It’s best to have your routine blood investigations at least twice in a year to avoid any such complications due to low platelet count. Other than this, the best method to take care of platelets is to add enough vitamins in daily diet as advised above.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.