Thalassemia has two main types–alpha and beta–and many subtypes, PubMed Health explains. Two proteins, alpha-globin and beta-globin, form the protein called hemoglobin. When there are defective genes in alpha-globin, the result is alpha-thalassemia. Likewise, if the genes involved in beta-globin production are damaged, you develop beta-thalessemia. Both alpha and beta thalassemia manifest as thalassemia major and thalassemia minor. Thalassemia major is the most severe form of the disease and can result in failure to grow, fatigue, facial bone deformities and jaundice. This type is treated primarily through folate supplements, routine blood transfusions and sometimes bone marrow transplants.

Folate-Rich Herbs

Folate supplements are given to those with thalassemia major. This naturally occurring B vitamin is now available in a synthesized form as folic acid. Folate helps build red blood cells and is involved in the production of DNA. Green leafy herbs are a rich source of folate, including nettle leaf, red clover leaves and oatstraw, explains the Wise Woman Tradition website.

Herbs High in Zinc

Zinc is a crucial mineral that is needed for cell metabolism and immune system function and to promote healthy growth in children, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. Patients with thalassemia sometimes have low zinc status and taking zinc supplements appears to help with linear growth. One disease associated with thalassemia-major patients is osteoporosis. According to, a current clinical trial is under way that involves children with thalassemia major who are given zinc supplements to prevent osteoporosis. Herbs high in zinc include rose hips, alfalfa, nettle, parsley, dandelion, burdock root and chickweed, according to the book “Natural Health Techniques.”


Homeopathy is a healing modality codified two centuries ago by a German medical doctor named Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopaths give highly diluted medicines primarily made from plant tinctures that seek to stimulate the natural healing process, according to the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” A clinical study evaluating homeopathic treatment for thalassemia patients showed promising results as reported in a 2010 article in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.”


Wheat grass juice raises hope of thalassaemia breakthrough

Prithvijit Mitra, TNNAug 2, 2012, 04.24AM IST


KOLKATA: A wheat grass juice extract, that prevents iron deposits in body organs after transfusion, could soon be turned into a drug for thalassaemia patients. It promises to reduce the frequency of transfusions which are expensive and help to expand the lifespan of E-beta thalassaemia patients who don’t survive more than 20 years. Animal trials for the drug will commence soon and the results could be out by September. Experts believe this could be a major step in thalassaemia treatment and prove to be a godsend for thousands of patients who survive on transfusion.

It was in 2006 that the scientists from NRS Medical College, Netaji Subhas Cancer Research Institute ( NSCRI) and National Research Institute for Ayurvedic Drug Development (NRIADD) got together to analyse the properties of wheat grass. After a study of the juice, they identified a compound that absorbed iron. It led the team to further examine the compound and they were pleasantly surprised by what was revealed.


“It is a chlorophyll-like thing that acts as a good chelating agent, absorbing iron and helping to discharge it from the body. We realized that it could work wonders for thalassaemia patients, who have to undergo regular transfusions. The iron deposit left by the transfusion damages the liver, lungs, spleen and heart. Medicines like Desferral and Desirox help to get rid of iron but they are very expensive. Also, this extract will be a more natural and effective way of getting rid of iron deposits,” said Shubhra Mandal, assistant director, chemistry of NRIADD, who was a member of the research team.

Wheat grass juice is easily available and the compounds have no side-effects, the researchers claimed. “All you need is 8-10 day-old wheat plants. So, the drug will be cheaper and benefit thalassaemia patients, many of whom are forced to discontinue treatment due to the costs involved,” said Monoj Kar, biochemist and researcher at NRS Medical College who played a key role in the research. A paper on the work was published in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants.