Also called hemochromatosis, high ferritin is manifested by an excess of iron in the blood. Often characterized by intense fatigue, this illness can have repercussions in everyday life. However, the symptoms that accompany high ferritin levels are reversible. With regular bleeding, subjects with hemochromatosis can overcome this hyperferritinemia. But beyond blood sampling, there are natural remedies and solutions to lower iron levels in the body. Discover all the tips: diet, good gestures to adopt, use of plants… Everything you need to know about the effects of high ferritin and overcome it.
High ferritin: What is that ?
First of all, it is necessary to define what ferritin is. It is an iron storage protein. It is found in large quantities in the liver and white blood cells. Ferritin regulates the intestinal absorption of iron. And from a blood point of view, the protein is present transiently.
Ferritin levels can be high (hyperferritinemia) or low (hypoferritinemia). In addition, high ferritin, also called hemochromatosis, is generally a sign of excess iron in the body. But other causes are sometimes the cause of hyperferritinemia (tumor, polyarthritis, hepatitis, etc.).
The evaluation of the ferritin level is carried out by blood sampling generally at the level of the fold of the elbow.
Note that the normal level of ferritin in the body is between 18 and 270 ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre) in humans. And it is between 18 and 160 ng/ml in women. Iron levels are found to be lower in females due to variations in the menstrual cycle (pregnancy, menopause) and breastfeeding. Finally, be aware that iron levels are high in infants and then decrease during childhood (between 7 and 140 ng/ml).
Several possible causes can explain the occurrence of high ferritin:
- primary or secondary hemochromatosis (excess iron in the body). This may be related to repeated transfusions or treatment with iron;
- a tumor of the liver, lung, pancreas, kidney or breast;
- homeopathy (Hodgkin, acute leukemia);
- an infectious syndrome;
- viral hepatitis or other acute hepatitis. These diseases destroy cells (cytolysis);
- an inflammatory syndrome (polyarthritis);
- hemolytic or sideroblastic anemia, or major beta thallasemia.
Namely: it is the most common hereditary genetic disease. In France, one in 300 people is affected by hemochromatosis. Not to mention the many patients who ignore each other.
Several signs announce high ferritin:
- unexplained fatigue which can be of great intensity. We then speak of asthenia;
- sexual disorders with decreased libido;
- abnormal skin color (swarthy appearance). It is then a melanoderma;
- joint pain (forms of arthritis) usually with a painful handshake;
- liver damage: cirrhosis, carcinoma, hepatomegaly, etc.;
- right and upper abdominal pain;
- heart damage such as arrhythmias or left ventricular failure;
- endocrine disorders (diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism).
To note : all of these symptoms are only noticeable in the event of very high ferritin. On the other hand, the symptoms are similar to those of other pathologies (eg hepatitis C). Therefore, it may delay making an accurate diagnosis. Ultimately, an excess of ferritin in the blood represents a real health risk: liver damage (cirrhosis, cancer), joint damage, diabetes, heart failure.
The only reference treatment is bleeding. This is a blood sample. However, there are natural remedies to reduce ferritin levels by half.
A special hemochromatosis diet
The goal of this specific diet is to reduce dietary iron intake and absorption. It is therefore necessary to focus on dietary fiber and vegetable proteins.
On the other hand, it is necessary to:
- favor sources of non-heme iron;
- eat lots of legumes and beans;
- prefer whole wheat bread rather than white bread;
- consume green tea during meals, or coffee failing that;
- reduce your consumption of red meat;
- limit your consumption of crustaceans and shellfish;
- as a snack, eat dried fruits (almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) and seeds;
- eat plants rich in tannins (pine, vine, hawthorn, sainfoin, trefoil);
- avoid certain species of iron-rich fish such as tuna or mackerel;
- limit alcohol consumption;
- avoid vitamin supplements and dietary supplements that contain iron.
Use proper cooking utensils
In case of high ferritin, it is better to cook meals with utensils made of natural materials (wood, glass, ceramic) rather than cast iron or stainless steel which add iron to preparations.
Regular exercise can lower your blood iron levels. You can start by walking at least thirty minutes a day. And bodybuilding is also one of the sports that help reduce ferritin in the blood.
Gradually increase the intensity and duration of the physical exercises. The more intense the practice of sport, the greater the chances of reducing iron levels.
If you suffer from hemochromatosis, consult a herbalist. This herbal specialist will deliver a Chinese natural remedy known as Xiao Yao. It is a compound of plover root, angelica root, atractylodes rhyzome, white peony root, a fungus, licorice root, flowering mint.
In addition, this natural solution helps to circulate the liver and tone both the blood and the spleen.
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